~”In today’s society, children are more vocal than ever.”
Back in the day parents lived by the philosophy that children were to be seen, not heard. Discipline was handed out in heavy doses, respect was demanded, and punishments were often harsh. Conversations between parent and child seemed to be limited and vital information was shared only on a need to know basis. Let us keep in mind that back in the day there seemed to be a lot less crime, school violence, bullying, incidents of teen pregnancy, and drug use.
In today’s society, children are more vocal than ever. Participation in “adult” conversation seems to be no big deal. Discipline consists of “time out” and punishment for bad behavior may mean forfeiting that new pair of Jordans. Many parents are proud of the fact that they are their children’s friend. So much so that some will allow alcohol to be served to under aged kids in their home. Others have determined that if their child is going to do drugs or have sex, it is best that they do it under the parents supervision. If that’s not disturbing enough, there are parents that have decided that regardless of what their child had done, they are not to be disciplined by any other authority figure. Kids are attacking teachers in the schools, disrupting class, fighting in the streets like heathens, and flat out acting a fool. Yet their parents will go to war to defend their deviant behavior.
Now don’t get me wrong, I have tons of fun with my son. He is the apple of my eye, they joy in my heart and I admire the young man he is becoming. I’m not a dictator and I love the open communication that we share. I think it’s important for my son to know that he can discuss anything with me. However, it’s equally important for him to know how to discuss things with me (don’t talk to me like I’m your home girl) and know that any and all advise I give will come from a parenting perspective. I’ve made it clear that he does not need the friendship of a forty something year old woman, but he does need my guidance.
With all of that being said, let’s ponder a few questions:
- Can one be an effective parent and simultaneously foster a friendship with their child?
- Does a child have as high a level of respect for a friend as he/she does for a parent?
- If a friendship is fostered, how can one go about drawing a definitive line between being a parent and being a friend and how will the child know the difference?
- Will the respect level that a child has for his/her elders, their respect for authority, and decision making skills be hindered when mom and dad are trying to be both friend and parent?
Please also bear in mind that I’m not speaking of the relationship between adult children and their parents. As our kids grow and navigate the waters of being a responsible adult, the relationship between parent and child has no choice but to change. It tickles me pink to imagine the conversations and interactions I’ll have with my son once he’s grown and has successfully left the nest. But until that time comes, he is the child and I will respectfully treat him as such.
Let us never lose sight of the fact that we are responsible for the children we are given. We are tasked with raising respectful, honest, and caring kids that grow into responsible, positive contributors to society. Some have been able to successfully navigate the parenting/friendship lane and I applaud them. For me, it’s too fine of a line to balance and I choose to operate from the parenting side of the road. However, everyone should carefully examine the pros and cons to determine the lane that will be most beneficial for their children and their successful futures.
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This is a very good and timely blog. I think that it’s important to establish boundaries and respect early on meaning during the Early Childhood phase. When that happens the rules are already understood the roles are understood. Much of the problem that we see today is that the roles were never clearly defined. Does this come from Teen parenting or not enough mentorship or not enough guidance for those new parents? We will never know.
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