The other day, I asked Zane to pick up his toys, and when he refused, we had words.
"I am not your friend, Mama!" Zane stomped off--to pick up his toys.
"Good," I fired back. "I am not your friend, either. I am your Mama."
Parents can fill many roles in their children's lives: coach, teacher, cheerleader, mentor, confidant, nurse, protector, and hug-giver. Moms can stand-in for Dads, and Dads can stand-in for Moms. The one role that a parent can never be, however, is a friend.
A friend is an equal. A buddy. A partner in crime, occasionally.
There is no equality in a successful Parent-Child relationship. At least not until the Child has become an Adult. Sometimes not even then.
A parent has the extremely important and powerful responsibility, however 'not cool' it may be, of providing a safe place for their children to grow. Children rely on the adults in their lives to teach them the boundaries in life, what is expected of them. If a child understands that there are boundaries, rules, etc., and that their parent is there to make sure those boundaries are respected, then the child feels safe. They need a parent for this, not a friend.
Parents are the Gatekeepers in their children's lives. Parents are the ones who have been through most of the things that their children are going through as they grow up, and know how to help. The ones who set the boundaries. The ones who must say 'No' to their children, and mean it. Sometimes that is not fun, or glamorous, or cool. Sometimes it means hearing some horrible things from a child, but that doesn't change the reality. Being a parent means making the hard choices for your children, not the easy choice. When you are a parent and are making decisions for your child, there can be no path of least resistance.
If you can't be the heavy, if you can't draw lines and consistently maintain the boundaries for your children to keep them safe as they grow, then DO. NOT. HAVE. KIDS. And if you already have kids and you can't do these things, grow the hell up and start drawing those lines in the sand. Be a parent.
It is as simple as that.
Photo Credit: areyoumyrik.
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