The reason I ask this is because I have often heard it said, “I am not your friend, I’m your parent.” I have actually heard this more from parents themselves reporting that they had to make this statement. I don’t know if you agree with this, but this kind of statement makes me cringe… And I hope that this is hyperbolic bravado, and that no child actually heard this.
You can’t unsay this kind of stuff.
Perhaps you may mean that your main priority is to take authority and to protect and blah, blah, blah. Honestly, you have taken much joy out of the relationship that can be had with children. You can essentially erase a thing called “hope.” “If all I have to look forward to, as a child of him/her is discipline and instruction, I must seek for acceptance somewhere else.”
People share things with friends.
If you hold the philosophy of friendless parenting, you will not likely share an intimacy which your child needs a whole lot. Frankly speaking, you may find yourself desiring a friendship when your child has grown. However, much damage has been done to that prospect. And we’re not talking about mistakes made. We are talking about a choice to simply shut your child out of a friendship. To a child the words “I don’t want to be your friend” are these words “I don’t want to have a relationship with you.” A daddy who wants to dance with his daughter at the wedding better dance with her in the living room years earlier.
Jesus called his disciples friends.
We celebrate the fact that our Savior is our friend even though He is our King. We are his disciples. We follow Him and rightfully call Him “Master, Rabbi, Lord, Father.” But he calls us “friend.”
Some of the best parts of a relationship with a child are borne out in a friendship.
“There is no greater love than this: that a person would lay down his life for the sake of his friends. You are my friends if you will do all that I command you. No longer do I call you servants, because a servant does not know what his master does, but I have called you my friends, because all that I have heard from my Father, I have taught you.” John (Yochanon) 15:13-14
The very next verse is majorly important in this discussion. He says that his disciples did not choose Him, He chose them (us). Think of that in relation to your child. Your child needs, almost more than anything, to know that she is chosen by you. Reject the idea of accidents in reference to having, or raising, children. Rebuke the notion that you are “stuck” with her for 18 years. Reject the urge to be a better discipline-meister than your neighbor. Do not deceive yourself with the notion that you are living in a dispensation of laser pointed rule giving… then we can sit back with girlie drinks on a porch somewhere and reminisce. If you set the standard now, and carry it through. You will have no friend daughter… or buddy son later.
Oh those memories. What do you want to be remembered for? This is a tricky question because, by hearing the boasting at gatherings and parenting conferences, I do wonder. But do you want to be remembered for your efficiency in corporal punishment, or your batting average on the butt. This is not a call for avoiding necessary correction when needed. I think we all know that a lack of discipline is deadly too. This is a call to reason.
If you don’t want your child’s friendship, will you do yourself (and your child a favor) and ask yourself why? Perhaps you were missing something in your own relationship with your parent. Maybe you have seen a family with eleven children who can sit on a blanket for twelve hours during a conference and not move. So you looked and said, “boy, I have to step up my game.” Look. Take that pressure of perfect parenting away from your shoulders. Just know that getting an army of little children to sit quietly without fidgeting can be a level of impressive efficiency. However, you have no idea what some highly disciplined (and controllable) children are going through behind closed doors. For some – it’s not good. We shouldn’t want that for any of us. Not our kids, nit our neighbors’ kids.
Rescue yourself from the burden of perfection parenting, and allow yourself to teach yourself to enjoy your children. You might find that you enjoy yourself in the process.
“A friend loves at all times…” Prov. 17:17
If you haven’t enjoyed friendship with your children, please try it. It might be what they need.
I wonder what your thoughts are on this. Have you ever told your child that you are not his friend? Did you ever hear that from your parent?
Let me know in the comments below if you agree or disagree.