Last week I was invited to participate in a parenting conversation on the Bethenny Show. The topic: "Should you be your child's best friend?" When presented with this question my immediate reaction was "of course you shouldn't be your child's best friend," but as I reflected on my own parenting practices and examined the deeper issues I found the conversation I wanted to have on this topic to be more than a simple yes or no.
For starters, we often parent based on our own experiences as a child and the relationship we have with our own parents. While this is an important part of who we are, it isn't always the best place to form our parenting philosophies from. Our children are not us, they are a wonderful combination of genetics and have a persona and identity of their very own. I often call this "rebound parenting" (I don't want to do ____ because that is what my parents always did). It is important to reflect on our parenting choices and consider all factors (including the personality of the child, current research, our personal experience, etc.) along the way. This is a fluid process and our opinions and views are likely to evolve throughout our parenting experiences.
In addition, children do need boundaries and it is our responsibility as parents to define and establish limits in our relationship. Within this idea there are two critical elements that are central to my feelings on this topic.
- Paying attention to our reactions, remaining calm (think stop and take a breadth) when
a troublesome situation arises (e.g. bullying at school).
- Talking about difficult topics in honest, yet age-appropriate, ways. Research shows that
families able to tackle difficult situations during the early years are often to find more
parent consultation with parents during adolescence.
- Telling the truth. With toddlers this can be as simple as being open about how that
immunization will feel at the pediatrician or
Before we criticize others for their parenting choices we must remember that various cultures define the word family in different ways, and we should acknowledge that our relationship with each child will evolve as they grow and mature. Furthermore, we should respect one another as parents for knowing what is best for our children and support the ongoing dialogue that will ultimately inform our decisions along the way.
The theme certainly sparked a passionate discussion during taping in the studio. What are your thoughts? Do you think you should be your child's best friend?
ABOUT CHRISSY K
I am mom to three boys (one with several life-threatening food allergies) who will never own too many picture books or create Pinterest-worthy snacks. Simply Chrissy K is a place to find helpful tips on parenting that stem from my work with families as an educational consultant and parenting coach.
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