Gary's blog for couples and parents plus resources for individuals, leaders and churches.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Are We Our Kids' Parent or Friend?

Few of us who parent want our kids to dislike us, right? We hope that they think we're the coolest parents around and never have to get therapy because of us. It's also not fun to endure their tantrums, rantings, poutings and defiance when they don't get their way so hmm. . . maybe it would be better to just give in.

Let me beg you to not to do that. Instead remember this . . . until your kids are out of your home, you're their parent first and friend second. That means that you choose your actions because of what is best not because they'll like you more at the moment. Unfortunately many parents' view of themselves is so poor they can't stand the thought of their child being unhappy with them so they constantly give in.

The kids' can disobey in public a hundred times and mom or dad still beg them to stop, promise them a treat or simply ignore them because they don't want the fight or to risk their sweet child thinking less of them.

Now I'm not suggesting that to parent first we can never be friendly or teach our kids what it means to be a friend. Some of my fondest moments of parenting are just that . . .fun times when we were together having a great time . . . kind of like friends would do. Running, throwing a ball, climbing a mountain, playing a game.

But those times must be reinforced and protected by us being a parent first. I remember that at least one of our kids (maybe both) used the "I hate you" line when they didn't get what they wanted. I believe one of those moments was at bed time and they were complaining about having to go to bed at a given hour.

My response, however, was something like this. "You know, I'm sorry you hate me right now, but I don't hate you. There's nothing you could ever do to make me hate you but I guess you're not happy with me. Maybe you'll feel better tomorrow. Either way, you still have to go to bed."

When we're a parent more than a friend we stay more consistent. We don't switch the rules on the fly. And when it's all said and done our kids respond better. They know the guidelines and that we mean what we say. In the end they will feel more protected and more at ease when life isn't changing all the time.

And then we also have more freedom to gradually lessen the rules or change them according to their age and maturity. We found that we actually have become more our kids' friends as they got older and we enjoy it more and more. But it would have been an unhealthy and illegitimate friendship if we hadn't been parents first.

Got a tough issue with your kids these days? Ask yourself, "what would the parent do?"
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.

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