We’ve all heard it before: “If only children came with instructions!” While that would be nice, unfortunately that’s not how it works. We just have to figure it out on our own.
There are plenty of people who are willing to tell you exactly how you should parent. There are plenty more who are happy to advise you whether you want them to or not. It would simply be impossible to listen to every bit of advice you receive.
Eventually you come to the realization that you have to do things your way. You have to decide — in each moment and in each situation — what feels right for you and your family.
I’ve always had a close relationship with my children. We have a lot of fun together. I also lead and discipline them when necessary. We’re all familiar with the expression: “It’s not my job to be my children’s friend. It’s my job to be their parent.”
That’s true, it’s not our job to be their friend. But it is a gift. I’m friends with my kids. I am. It may not work for everyone, but it works for us. I’m their mother as well as their friend. We laugh. We joke. We play. I guide. I teach. I scold. I help. We’ve found a balance.
As parents, we have many responsibilities, and it’s important for us to teach and influence our children. It’s vital for us to set a good example. We must care for them physically, emotionally and financially. We also need to protect them. Having done those things, we could consider ourselves to be good parents.
In order to be a friend, we need to listen. We need to remember that sometimes our children aren’t asking for our judgment, guidance or an anecdote. Sometimes they just need us to hear them.
To be a friend, we must show support. That’s what friends do — support and encourage. Friends care. Friends also spend free time together. They compromise and find things they both like to do. Friends work together to find common ground.
I am a parent. I educate, I lead and I scold when necessary. I tell my children when I am disappointed and I remind them to make good choices. I am also a friend who makes jokes and laughs with them.
We have midnight dance parties in the living room, play with Legos, jump on the trampoline, camp on the floor in blanket tents and sometimes eat ice cream for breakfast.
I cherish my kids and I want to enjoy every moment that we have together. I love that they know that they can lean on me as well as laugh with me. You decide the relationship that you will have with these people you’ve made.
Your children look to you to set the tone. Some parents feel much more comfortable leaving the warmth and silliness out. I find that it adds so much. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
There will always be someone to tell you how you should do things, but it’s really up to you. If you want to be friends with your children, then do it. As long as they know you’ll be there to guide them and to catch them when they fall, you can be both their parent and their friend.
So, go ahead and build that blanket fort. Just watch out. You may be setting yourself up to have a fabulous relationship with your kids!