Parenting is never easy. Knowing that the decisions we make on a daily basis will forever impact our children is a stressful — and truthful — concept. Sometimes the line between being a parent and being a friend is blurred by the desire to understand and relate to your child. But being too close to your child creates plenty of parenting challenges…as if we don’t have enough.
Boundaries are an essential part of successful parenting, so a lack of boundaries can make disciplining your child almost impossible. Following are some signs that you may be “too close” to your child.
You share your problems with your kids
Most kids know that their parents have problems, but they shouldn’t be intimately familiar with the details of those problems. According to Elizabeth Berger, M.D., Child Psychiatrist and author of Raising Kids with Character, “Parents should bear in mind that children — even their adult children — are easily overburdened by parents sharing too much information about their romantic issues, medical aches and pains, financial woes and similar complaints.”
You are Facebook friends
While it is wise to clearly define the rules and parameters of your child’s computer usage, being a part of their online social network may bring you closer to the action than you’d like. It’s difficult to establish trust between you and your child if you are monitoring their online presence from the perspective of a friendly insider rather than a parental figure.
Your child doesn’t respect a curfew
If you try in vain to establish a curfew, but your child scoffs at the idea, you may need to examine the parent/child boundaries. This blatant disregard for your authority may prove that your child views you as a peer rather than a parent.
You ask your child for advice
“The parent who feels like a hapless victim is also liable to turn the youngster into a parent or a therapist or a best-friend,” says Dr. Berger. This scenario often leads to an unhealthy role reversal in which the child feels responsible for the parent’s emotional health and the parent depends on the child for friendship.
You have no limits
If you are more worried about disappointing your child than you are about their character, there is a problem. Some examples include buying your kids alcohol or providing them with an adult magazine. “There are certain subjects and activities which are necessary rites-of-passage among adolescent peer groups, but the grown-ups must give them a frosty disapproving look,” says Dr. Berger.
You avoid responsibility
Would rather be your child’s friend that an authority figure? “We have all seen parents who seem to resent that they have already had ‘their turn’ at being young, and are poor sports about handing the prerogatives of youth over to those who are next in line,” says Dr. Berger.
You want your child to be your friend
Would be genuinely hurt if your child didn’t want you to be your friend? “Sometimes one sees a parent who is lonely, and leans on the child as a buddy or pal or source of entertainment and excitement,” says Dr. Berger. “This is bad if the youngster feels the parent’s presence as a weight that they must guiltily shoulder, a responsibility to carry.”