Best friend parenting is growing in popularity. According to Stephan Poulter, clinical psychologist and author of The Mother Factor, 30 to 40 percent of parents engage in this style of parenting, and not without an abundance of negative consequences.
"This really is an epidemic. Because of unresolved issues with their parents, some parents today don't want to be so hard and just want their children to like them. At the end of a long working day they don't want conflict."
We can all relate to the feeling of not wanting to enforce rules or boundaries with our kids out of sheer laziness sometimes. We've all done it at least once or twice. Allowed our kids go to sleep without brushing their teeth. Gave them a candy bar just to keep them quiet. You know the drill. But best friend parenting is more than an occasional slip-up.
Best friend parents are seeking validation for their own egos through their children. They want their kids to think they are cool and in order to achieve this, they put themselves on the same level as their children. Unfortunately, this deprives children of the stable authority figure they need to be safe, learn self-discipline, and build trust. If we make ourselves the equals to our children, who will they have to turn to when they need real guidance?
LCSW and family therapist Ellen Schrier explains, "The research has shown that once grown, these kids overwhelmingly resent feeling less than competent when it comes to raising their own children, making day-to-day decisions or even doing basic household chores. And they place the blame smack dab on their parents."
It is important to remember that parenting is not a popularity contest. And it is certainly not always easy. If we are doing our job as an authority figure, our children are not going to like us 100% of the time. It is a child's job to push the limits and test the boundaries. It is the parent's job to remain firm and strong -- even when your little angel becomes a momentary tyrant and decides to hate you forever because you won't let her eat Skittles and popsicles for breakfast.
Children need a steady dose of unconditional love, age-appropriate rules and boundaries, as well as discipline. In fact, when you create healthy boundaries with your children when they are young, you are much more likely to have enjoyable and affectionate relationships with them when they become adults.
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