Who among us moms doesn’t hope to end up with a close, trusting, warm relationship with our children when they grow to be adults? Who, in the end, wouldn’t like for our children to be true friends – fellow Christ-loving adults sharing the joy of life together? Surely we all aim for this.
The interesting part is the sequencing. It seems to me that often parents who seek friendship with their children often fail to achieve the long-term goal, while those whose mindset toward childrearing avoids ‘friendship’ style interaction with their kids – instead focusing on godly training, instilling character, learning responsibility (etc) – have the best shot at ending up with children who can truly be called “friends” at the adult age.
A mommy-friend of mine who works in a toystore one day a week said:
“It’s a pet peeve of mine, this tendency of society (and schools too) to put everyone on the same level… Kids throughout the class-room (honor-student stickers for everyone) and parents and their kids (I see a lot of “best friends” come into the toy store).”
[Her first point about “putting everyone on the same level” reminded me of a recent encounter I had with an eleven-year old boy who basically functioned as a peer of his two siblings, age 18 and 21. He got his older sibs hooked on an R-rated movie he enjoyed so much that he’d memorized it verbatim. “Completely inappropriate,” said the 21-year old with a smirk in relaying the story, yet the awareness of this didn’t seem to cause anyone in the family to change their actions regarding his movie-viewing habits.]
The “my buddy” style of parenting – in which parents and their children operate as if on equal footing – has received ample discussion; I found this post about it particularly provocative. The author asks:
“In reality, are our offspring really our friends? Did we live our own lives, go through our own school years and form our own social circles to become in our thirties and forties, or even our fifties, buddieswith our five and six year olds? Let’s delve into this question a little further by asking ourselves two more questions. Firstly, what are the results (or repercussions) of forging a friendship with our child as opposed to creating a positive parent -child relationship? Secondly, what does the title of parent compel us to be, a friend or a role model?”
We actually do use ‘buddy’ as a nickname for our son, so I can’t say that I fully embrace the author’s points about the power of terminology on this one, though it is food for thought…