WARNING: Being Friends With Your Child Is Dangerous. Do Not Attempt Under Any Circumstances.
If you choose to defy this warning and attempt friendship with your child, you better brace yourself for one or more of the following:
- It will be inconvenient. Friendships sometimes involve having deep conversations at odd hours. Who wants that? You might rather your child go to his same-age friends for the late-night conversations so you can get some rest. Then when you want to know what's going on with your child, you can just covertly read through his text messages and emails. You will get his thoughts much more succinctly that way, when it's convenient for you.
- You will have to abandon your hopes of perfection, now. True friends don't try to mold or shape each other. This may involve you accepting your child for who he is. Sounds like a lot of work. You might rather form expectations about who your child should be, and expect him to conform to those. Then you can be angry or disappointed when he can't or doesn't want to live up to them.
- You will not be on a pedestal. You will feel free to be yourself in this friendship as well. You may admit to mistakes and apologize for things. It will make you seem fully human to your child very early on in the relationship. This might be disappointing if you were planning on hiding behind a cloak of parental infallibility for any portion of your child's young life.
- Your child will not always do what you tell him to do. People go to their friends for advice (but do not always follow it). This means your child could value your opinion as a thoughtful suggestion, but ultimately make his own decisions about things. This will definitely not look like obedience. You might rather your child not come to you for advice at all.
- You will have less time alone. Friends enjoy spending time together. This may happen with you and your child. You would definitely get more time for yourself if he preferred to hang out with other people as soon as possible.
- Your child will feel left out by his peers. Friends say nice things about each other. Your child might feel left out when all the other kids are complaining about their parents, because he has mostly nice things to say about you. You might rather keep a tenuous relationship so he can fit in with the other kids.
- The other moms will think you are obnoxious. Friends appreciate each other. The other moms will think you are lying, or bragging, when you offer stories of your child's genuine expressions of gratitude for the things you do for him. You might rather have more stories of your kids' being ungrateful or disappointing (see #2).
|Side effects include smiles, fun, and prolonged periods of happiness.|
Can you think of any actual problems with being your child's friend? I can't.
If you like the idea of being your child's friend, but still have concerns about it, read this follow-up called Five Words That Have Nothing To Do With Friendship With My Child Or Anyone Else.