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Being the Parent vs. Being the Friend

Writing about my kids is getting harder as they get older. It is frankly why my blog focus has changed from parenting to more fashion and food and random loves. I just always wonder when I share about my children if I am sharing too much and crossing over from telling my story to their story.

Lily is 10 1/2 now. When I started this blog she was almost 5. A lot of growing up happens between 5-10. The next five years will likely be even more dramatic in terms of changes. Right now I am immensely proud of the girl she is and the person she is becoming. Although at times the hormonal winds are definitely blowing strongly, for the most part I delight in being in her presence and wonderfully, she seems to delight in being in mine. I feel like we are in a very sacred space in our journey together.

Last night as I tucked her in, instead of reading our chapter book (we are reading this one by the way and it is so wonderful) I asked her about her friends and school and life. We chatted like girlfriends and giggled a lot. Talk turned to boys and she blushed as she spoke of a first crush, but also impressed me with her level headedness about it all (I feel like I was so much more boy crazed at her age). She said to me, “I don’t understand why girls act so stupid when they are around boys, I just want to act like myself”. Man did she make her mama so incredibly proud.

When talking about friendship she expressed her struggles with the fickleness of girls. I tried to empathize and wished I could tell her it all got better. But I know all toi well that some adults still swim in the jr. high pool. At one point she told me she was frustrated with a close friend and her constant quest to be popular. She said to me “Why does she care so much about popularity? I would rather just have true friends!” Oh Lily. I only wish I had your wisdom at your age. It would have saved me so much heartache.

We talked for a long time and hugged and she smiled a smile that immediately brought me back to her four-year old self all dimples and squishy cheeks. Her body that seems impossibly too long in a bed that she once barely filled stretched out and she pulled me tight in a hug. I left her room smiling and thinking how blessed I was to be her mom. She who made me a mom over ten years ago.

I know we aren’t supposed to be friends with our kids. That mantra is drilled into parents over and over by well-meaning psychologists and parenting experts. I have certainly espoused it myself. And it is so true. To a point.

I fear if we lean too far into that statement we forget to enjoy our children once they get old enough to be enjoyed like we would enjoy a friend. And sometimes our kid’s need a friend to bounce things off of, get affirmation for or just “chew the fat” with. I am so honored that she would choose me to share what is on her heart. And I need to remember that if I neglect the friendship side of our relationship then those times we I have to toe the line and be the parent when she is begging me to be her friend, I will just be the rule maker. Instead of the person who loves and cherishes her and wants the best for her. Authority without relationship is just begging for rebellion.

So yes. Be the parent. Always be the parent. But sometimes, be the friend too. Or you will miss out on some of the best moments parenting has to offer.

Comments

  1. Oh Jill…..I love this post. I feel like I am in the same place in regards to this I pic as you are. I ADORE this….

    “Authority without relationship is just begging for rebellion.”

    I’ll be sharing this post. :-)
    Jen recently posted…#StayBreak2014My Profile

  2. Love this. Truly. I think the “being a friend” thing becomes a problem when parents never outgrow the need to be cool and popular. It’s those parents who are always trying to be hip and cool in the eyes of their children who sometimes lose sight of the need to, um, PARENT at the same time. Since you’re already confident and secure in your coolness, I suspect you’ll be all good. ;)

  3. Bethany Wirin says:

    This was so drilled into my head, too, that I used it on other people before I even became a mom. (How ridiculous!) Then, about a year ago, I read Sally Clarkson’s thoughts on this topic. She gently cultivated best friends in her children. Certainly, she disciplined as a parent and had the authority as a parent, but she shared her interests in life with her kids. Now, 3 of the 4 are grown and out of the house, but she truly considers them her best friends. How nice!

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