Parent or Best Friend?
You want your children to love and like you. Everyone wants to win the Mom-of-the-Year award, right? What is the best way to accomplish that goal?
If you use a short-term perspective, you will be your children’s best friend. In the short-term, children do not like to have their behaviors redirected, so parents who fail to redirect are, in the short-term, more popular than those who do not. Constructive feedback and accountability will give way to turning a blind eye to misdeeds, finding humor in errant behaviors, or even parent participation in the children’s poor behavioral choices.
However, in the long-term, children whose behaviors are seldom or never redirected become disrespectful of their parents. It is difficult for children to respect a parent who seldom or never sets and maintains appropriate boundaries for their children. These children often begin to experience frustration and anger at their parents’ failure to parent. This is because many children come to construe this failure as the parents’ lack of interest in or love for their children. (For example, “Mom always took the easy way out. She was always too busy having a good time to notice, really notice, what I was doing. She didn’t care enough to step away from fun to teach me and just be my mom. So, my behaviors got further and further out of line as I tried to get her to act like my mom . . . “) As children’s disrespect for their parents grows, children begin disliking their parents. This is an ironic turn of events: by failing to act like a parent in order to be liked by their children, parents usually lose the very friendship they sought to gain.
The bright side is that love is usually not lost, even when respect and friendship is. Love can be covered deeply under thick mounds of anger, but for grown children in this situation, the love can be re-discovered by getting back in touch with their feelings and their origins. Parent-child relationships may be restored with understanding, forgiveness, and communication.
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