Do you ever feel pressured to give your kids what they what, even though you don't feel comfortable with what they're asking for? You just want to feel like you're a giving, compromising, cool parent, right? Or, maybe you do it to gain some type of credibility from them as someone that they can come to, no matter what, to try and keep the lines of communication open? You want to be the parent that gets "it," whatever "it" is.
You may have asked yourself, "Why am I trying so hard to be a friend — the cool parent." Well, according to Drs. Barbara R. Greenberg and Jennifer A. Powell-Lunder, clinical psychologists specializing in working with teens and their parents, it is the cool parents to whom teens turn when they are faced with a concerning situation or crisis. Teens often turn to these people because they do not fear being judged, criticized or disciplined by them. However, these are also some of the same individuals that overlook consequences and allow their children to bend or break the rules.
The good news is you can still be looked at as cool by your son or daughter without trying to be their friend. "Parents should have the confidence to lay down the law in order to gain their child's respect, and to raise a capable young adult," says Rabbi Shmuley, Oprah Winfrey radio host. Shmuley goes on to say that trying to be your child's best friend is not only ineffective, it's irresponsible. There is a responsibility that comes along with parenting that should never be compromised or ignored.
If you desire a wholesome, healthy relationship with your child, consider these tips:
Don't talk...just listen. Give your children the opportunity to talk before you interject.
Don't react, and definitely, don't overreact. Sometimes they just want to share something; they're not always looking for a solution. Just listen and remain calm, no matter what it is. If a solution is needed, develop it together.
Praise often...criticize less. No matter how big or small, just let them know you're on their team.
Set ground rules and discipline. Make sure that your household rules are clearly understood, and if rules are broken, you must discipline and be consistent.
Give them room them breathe. Though you want to keep them close to protect them, you must give them enough room to grow into independent, responsible adults. Allow them to have time with their own friends (unfortunately, that doesn't include you).
The bottom line is you're not their BFF; you're their parent, and you can gain the respect of being a parent by being just that: a parent. Remember this: a child will have many friends in his or her lifetime, but will only have one mother and father. Don't take a demotion; your title as a parent is the most prestigious there is.