So I was thinking about how I hear/see some parents say that their child is their best friend. No matter how many times I hear that sentiment, I always have the same reaction of bewilderment. My mind just can't grasp the concept. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that a parent/child friendship is impossible, but them being BEST friends makes a bit more sense to me once the child is an adult, AT LEAST. I see this best friend label used on children under the age of 18, all the way down to toddler and infant age! I just don't understand.
Maybe I feel strongly because of how I was brought up. My parents told me that they weren't one of my lil friends. I was taught to stay in a child's place and out of grown folks business. It was ingrained in me that certain conversation, language, and activities were inappropriate between children and adults, especially when they were your parents. Aside from that, I didn't WANT my mother or father to be my bestie and now as a parent, I don't want my son to be my best friend. To me, a best friend is a peer, an EQUAL with whom I can relate on multiple levels, someone with shared interests, someone whose conversation I enjoy, who I desire to spend time with, and most of all someone with whom I can talk to about ANYTHING and vice versa.
Right now, my main role in my son's life is as his parent. I'm here to instruct and guide, discipline and mold, love and protect. We do enjoy each other's company and I've made it my business to establish a relationship with my son where he feels comfortable talking to me about most things, but there are boundaries set and lines drawn which I make sure are not crossed. I teach my boy the importance of relationship and encourage him to develop friendships with children his own age. But, when he needs that extra boost of wisdom and guidance or just needs to talk some things out, and doesn't feel comfortable coming to me, I implore him to use all available outlets; talking to his dad when he feels he can and talking to another adult he trusts, like his uncle. I encourage him to journal and he also goes to therapy. In my opinion, having boundaries and other outlets allows for a certain level of respect to be maintained between the parent and child, ESPECIALLY when the child is below the age of 21. I've witnessed scenarios where parents and children become such friends to each other that the line between friendship and parenthood becomes super thin and the behavior of the child, though usually unintentional, crosses over into disrespect.
As an adult child, I can say that my relationship with my parents, especially my mother, has moved into more of a friendship status. However, she isn't my BFF. She is not my peer. I still revere her as my mother FIRST and there are certain things I don't wish to discuss with her, places I don't want to go with her, she doesn't expect it, and I know that the feeling is mutual. And that's just what works for US!
I'd like to hear from you! Is your child(ren) your best friend? Are you best friends with your parents? And if you have young children, how does being best friends with them work? What exactly does it mean? Talk to me in the comments, fill out the contact form, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.