ANGELINA JOLIE IS RIGHT, YOU SHOULD BE FRIENDS WITH YOUR KIDS
According to some, the idea of having a relationship that reaches beyond that of a strict parent/child one should be discouraged and could lead to confusion in terms of boundaries.
Our sole function as a parent is to teach, guide and mentor our children, and give them consequences when they misbehave.
In short, a parents job is more complicated than having a jolly old time with your kids.
Scary stuff, indeed.
Being a single parent of a nine-year-old, our ‘friendship’ wasn’t a conscious one, but more an organic relationship that has grown over time.
It can be exhausting bring up a child on your own and playing both good cop and bad cop all the time – so, good cop I decided to be.
As a consequence, I am the mother of a happy and well-rounded child.
One who I include in my social life as much as possible – whether it’s joining myself and my friends for Sunday lunch in the pub (one of her first words – I jest, of course) spending the day shopping together or exploring a new city on a girls weekend away, despite the notable thirty year age difference, I consider her to be my best friend and treat her as such.
We’ll stay up watching Little Britain together (too adult) eating marshmallows (too sugary) until 10pm on a school night (too late) and to hell with the rules because sometimes life feels too short, and we’re just having too much damn fun, to play by them.
Beyond the evenings out and the city breaks, I also talk to her more like a friend than a child, which means that, yes, some of the conversations we have are direct, we argue with each other (as opposed to me shouting at her) enjoy a good gossip and, often, a real laugh.
I open up about my life to her, regularly asking her opinion and views on things and, whilst I’d never ‘lean’ on her too heavily emotionally, she’s a mine of useful advice.
Being friends with my daughter means that we are exceptionally close, and because of the blurred traditional roles we’ve established our relationship is one which, despite not playing by the text book parenting ‘rules’, works for us.
When she’s worried she tells me, when she’s angry she lets it out and when she’s done something wrong, instead of being terrified I’m going to discipline her, she’s quick to own up and talk it out.
Our friendship means she feels comfortable sharing with me and communication is a key part of her developing into a well-rounded adult.
Being best friends with my daughter doesn’t mean she runs rings around me though.
Despite our closeness she does pay attention to me when I tell her off and I firmly believe it’s because we are ‘friends’ that she listens to me when I need to be firm – but instead of being the person that barks instructions at her or focuses on ‘mentoring and guidance’ we actually communicate with one another, and our relationship is a two-way street.
Maybe I’m too lazy to take on a traditional ‘parent’ role and our friendship feels more natural (and easier) to me than constantly disciplining a child and reminding them of their boundaries, but, for now, it works and I’m in full agreement with Angelina Jolie, your children should be your friends.
I’m blessed to have my nine-year old daughter as my best friend – and If I had to choose between sending my daughter to bed at 7pm every night without exception, scolding her regularly and spending my life installing ‘correct behaviour’ in her or raising a free-spirited young woman with a deep understanding of open communication and mutual respect – I’ll take the second.