Trying to be your child’s best friend is a major mistake. I am not saying that you should not be on good terms with them; it is extremely important that you are. But do not try to be their BFF. As their parent, you are in the position of having to make decisions that are in your child’s best interests. These can be decisions that your child may not like, but you must make them.
When my daughter was fifteen, she asked me if I was her BFF. When I said “No, I’m not, and I never will be,” she seemed to be quite surprised. She asked me why not. So I asked her who her best friend was at that time. She said “Rachel and Chloe.” I then asked her how she would like it if Rachel started telling her what to do. She said “I really would not like that Dad.” So I explained that I have to make decisions that she does not like sometimes. She thought about what I said for a minute and then said, “Ok, I understand.” We have been very close ever since.
You need to be kind to them; you can even be chummy with them. But not their best friend. Here is something to think about. If your child likes every single decision you make, then you are not doing something right. Your decisions are made based upon many years of experience. Your child’s decisions are made based upon no more than ten years of experience, or even less. Now who do you think has the capability to make the wiser decision?
Here is an example of what I am talking about. When my daughter was twenty-one months old, the three of us—Me, Mom, and Daughter—went to a shoe store in the mall to get Mom some new shoes for work. So I took her by the hand, and led her over to a bench for customers to rest on. After about a minute, she got up to started walking towards Mom.
I said, “Where are you going?” She answered, “I’m going over to help Mom.” I replied “No, you’re not. Sit down like I told you to.” After a couple of minutes, she started to whimper. So I said, “Okay, let’s go.” I stood up, and took her by the hand. We walked over to Mom, and I said “Mom, we will be right back.”
So we walked outside the mall. There was no screaming or yelling or spanking. I got down on my knees and I leaned in. Said in a tone meant to get her attention, “Go ahead, get it out. Cry, scream, stomp. Do whatever you feel like doing.” I then leaned back, folded my arms and did not react to anything she did. After about a minute, she stopped crying. So I leaned in, and in a very firm tone meant to be intimidating, I said, “Are you quite through young lady?” She shook her head up and down, and said, “Yes, sir.” I then said “You better not ever do this again, or I promise you are not going to like Daddy. Do you understand me?” Again, she shook her head up and down and said, “Yes, sir.” Then I said “Okay, let’s go.”
I stood up, and we calmly walked back to the store to sit down. My daughter has never done anything like that again, and she is now thirty years old. The point is, you have to get their attention very early on to make sure they understand that you are in charge, and you will not put up with any static from them. Not doing this can lead to a lifetime full of headaches and problems for you and your significant other. This is not something that your child’s best friend could have done effectively.
It is your job as the parent to teach your child that they will not always get their way. Sometimes they will have to do something they do not like. That is just part of being a human being. They look to you for advice. If you are unwilling to accept that role and everything that goes with it, you might want to reconsider whether you want to be a parent or not. Truthfully, some people are just not cut out to be a parent. That does not mean there is anything wrong with them. It’s like how some people are not cut out to be a doctor or an engineer. They just know instinctively that being a parent is just not for them.
Now, for the rest of us who have chosen to be a parent, I think I can safely say that it can be the most rewarding experience of your entire life. The memories of the experiences that I share with my daughter are worth more to me than all of the gold in Fort Knox. Both good and bad. They can be for you too if you take being a good parent seriously.