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Some parents want to be friends with their children. This is a mistake. Children need to be raised from childhood to adulthood. Friends are not the party suited for that job. That is a job for parents. If you want to do the best thing possible for your children, strive to be a good parent, not a good friend.
Let’s start with a few definitions. Parent is commonly defined as one who brings forth another or who brings up and care for another. The word child is commonly understood to be one not yet of age or the offspring of parents. The word friend is usually described as a person who has an attachment to another due to affection or esteem. The words parent and children share some components, but there is a world of difference between parents and friends in these definitions. Interestingly, the definition for parent does not include words like love, like, affection and esteem. Similarly, the definition for friend talks about care, concern, and affection but not responsibility or obligation.
When children are born, they are helpless and utterly unable to survive without a great deal of assistance. Unlike many other members of the animal kingdom, human parents must spend many, many years teaching, guiding and preparing their offspring to survive on their own. In most cases, children need parents who are good at their job if they are to be able to survive and thrive on their own when they reach adulthood. Of course, some humans are able to do exceedingly well with no parents, or with poor parents. However, that is not the norm and not a circumstance one should hope for.
While parents have a legal obligation to care for their children from birth through the age of majority, friends have no legal obligations to one another. A friend is a person who choses to like you, care for you. and have affection for you without any obligation to do so. That type of relationship is also something to be treasured. Friends support you when things are going badly and cheer with you when things are going well. Friends listen to your secrets and tell you secrets of their own. Friendship is special because friends choose their obligation and relationship to one another.
While a child only has two biological parents, a child can have an unlimited number of friends over the course of a lifetime. A parent’s love is a treasure that cannot be replaced. At the same time, there is something truly special a friend. A child needs both parents and friends to go from childhood to adulthood with the best chance at success. If you are a parent, remember your place, your obligation, and your job is to raise guide your child from childhood to adulthood as successfully as possible. Stay in the role of parent, do not leave that role for the role of friend. It may seem like more fun, joy and less stress to be a friend, but as a parent, that is not your place.
If you would like to read more articles about the role of parents in the lives of their children, check out the following:
Take a moment now to look at the relationship you have with your children. Are you a parent or a friend?