Can you be a parent and a friend?

I don’t think there is a child in the land who wishes that their parent was stricter or who would request more rules being enforced in the home.  The reality is however, that children need a world with clear guidelines and expectations.  Without this, we are in danger of creating a generation of teenagers who think like this:

Article courtesy of  Facebook (not sure which newspaper originally!)

When I read this, I actually wanted to ‘high-five’ the principal of Northland College, I could not have put it better myself!  But are we as parents partly to blame for creating these lazy teenagers who reckon the world owes them something?  And it’s not just teenagers either, there are plenty of adults who carry around this mentality too!

Only recently, one of my daughter’s classmates said to her “your mum scares me“!  Whilst this is a little bit funny and we had a chuckle about me jumping out of a bush next time he’s walking past and shouting “boo!”  I was also slightly offended. We all want to be liked don’t we?  Who wants to be the Mum in the playground who has been labelled the ‘meanie’, the one whose house other kids don’t want to go to because they’re not allowed to watch films with a certificate 15 or spend as much time on screens as they like, or stay up past midnight at a sleepover. Let me tell you, it’s not an easy title to live up to!

But being liked by our children is not something that we should be striving for as a parent. Yes there are times when I question my parenting style and of course, I have naturally felt hurt when my child has screamed “I hate you” after a punishment has been enforced. I also believe however, that one day they will respect me for it and understand that love was my driving force, not a desire to spoil their fun.  I don’t want  my children to turn into the type of people described in the article above and I’m going to make damn sure that doesn’t happen, even if it means they hate me on occasion!

One day, when they’re adults and perhaps have families of their own, I hope to hear  my children  refer to me as their ‘friend’ but whilst I am their care-giver, discipliner and all-round teacher in life, I don’t think that I can carry this title.  A friend doesn’t want to offend or say ‘no’, a friend is reluctant to enforce rules or a punishment.  A friend isn’t going to ask you to do something that you clearly won’t like but they know is for your long-term good.

This fantastic poster that I came across on pinterest, sums up my parenting approach…

Do you think you can parent effectively at the same time as being a ‘friend’?  

53 Comments on Can you be a parent and a friend?

  1. Sarahmumof3
    January 30, 2013 at 1:32 pm (4 years ago)

    I am a total soft touch, and I don’t really think its right the way to be, I know I should be harder on them, so I don’t think your horrible at all… I just think its really difficult, but I do try my best and I hope that even with a soft touch of a mother my children don;t turn into horrible beasts of teenagers!!

    Reply
    • Suzanne
      January 30, 2013 at 4:54 pm (4 years ago)

      My own mum was actually a bit of a ‘soft touch’ (she’s probably reading this!) but my Dad was the opposite. I think that as long as one parent takes the firm line, this works ok. I don’t think that there’s any fail safe way of ensuring our kids won’t turn into horrible beasts in their teenage years!

      Reply
    • Suzanne
      January 30, 2013 at 10:30 pm (4 years ago)

      Thanks for your support :)

      Reply
  2. Emma
    January 30, 2013 at 2:13 pm (4 years ago)

    I totally agree- when you’re raising them you can’t be their ‘friends’ as well, great post Suzanne!

    Reply
    • Suzanne
      January 30, 2013 at 4:54 pm (4 years ago)

      Thanks Emma. Still got the teenage years to come (4 months away yet!)x

      Reply
  3. Anonymous
    January 30, 2013 at 2:19 pm (4 years ago)

    We can be friends when they are adults! Totally agree x Leslea

    Reply
    • Suzanne
      January 30, 2013 at 10:31 pm (4 years ago)

      My children already have loads of friends, they don’t need me to add to that! Thanks for commenting x

      Reply
  4. LUCYLAST
    January 30, 2013 at 2:43 pm (4 years ago)

    I think I get along brilliantly with mine (they’re still only 8,6 and 3, mind) but no, I’m not their friend. If I was, their bedrooms would be horrendous (more than they already are!), they would eat chocolate for breakfast, sit playing on the ps3 every day rather than weekends only and not complete much homework. I have to be their parent first and foremost.
    (But I do look forward to their adult years when we can be great friends- hopefully!)

    Reply
    • Suzanne
      January 30, 2013 at 4:55 pm (4 years ago)

      Your kids are the same age gap as mine! I’m not saying that I don’t get on with my kids, I do (most of the time!) but I think we shouldn’t be scared to lay the law down every now and again, it does them good! And yes, parent first is definitely the way to go :)

      Reply
  5. Older Mum
    January 30, 2013 at 4:30 pm (4 years ago)

    That was very, very thought provoking indeed. I like to think as parents we are mentors – boundary setters who also encompass the supportive aspects of being a friend. As parents we are not friends in the strictest sense but we kind of are at the same time with the support and love that is given….

    Reply
    • Suzanne
      January 30, 2013 at 5:41 pm (4 years ago)

      I do agree with you and I try to find the right balance between the two, which is hard at times. I err on the side of strict though 😉 Thanks for commenting x

      Reply
  6. Elaine Livingstone
    January 30, 2013 at 4:22 pm (4 years ago)

    If only more adults thought like the principal. We seem to be breeding a generation whom nobody says no too, who dont like being disciplined, think only of me me me, never get told what to do, and never have to do anything they dont want to do.
    My eldest regularly use to say “I hate you” when she could not get her own way, was grounded, or made to do something that was expected of her ( ie helping with housework). She really hated me when I put her into supported living as she was running with a bad crowd at 16 drinking, getting drunk and sleeping around, so I moved her out of our home village 20 mile away so she could not run with the crowd. Buy she now admits it was the best thing I ever did for her.
    Parenting is about tough love, the reward is adult children who are your friend.
    But as a 34 yr old parent she now understands that I did it out of love not malice and she is a well balanced adult who takes responsibility for her own actions.

    Reply
    • Suzanne
      January 30, 2013 at 4:57 pm (4 years ago)

      Wow, I take my hat off to you – what a tough call! Well done for sticking to your principles and choosing the hard option. So great to have some wise words on here from someone who has ‘been there and done it’. Thanks for commenting :)

      Reply
  7. mum in meltdown
    January 30, 2013 at 4:27 pm (4 years ago)

    I saw that piece and thought it was fab! I’m with you all the way and I’m hoping my kids thank me for it in the end! I believe all kids need boundaries it shows that you care and they are loved! I’m a strict mum with a 14 and 12 yr old and no they don’t get a lot of screen time, or watch 18’s in films or anything else!! There is plenty for that as they get older!! Good on you I would pay money to see you scare their mates jumping out of a bush!! LOL

    Reply
    • Suzanne
      January 30, 2013 at 5:01 pm (4 years ago)

      Tee hee! I’m still winding my daughter up, telling her I’m going to do it one day! Being fairly strict is the harder option IMO and I tell my kids that continually…I think it will make things easier long-term though. Thanks for commenting :)

      Reply
  8. Coffee Lady
    January 30, 2013 at 4:29 pm (4 years ago)

    After my divorce, my middle son started acting out and was caught smoking pot and skipping school. He had to do some “time” taking a workshop while I the Mom, had to as well. The last day of the county program they brought our teens in, to address us. One thing that really struck me, is my son told me (as well as the other juvie teens)

    “We need a mother or parent – not another friend”.

    They can always find friends but there is only one Mom and she needs to be a blend of both friend and parent.

    From then on, I tried to apply balance. All 3 sons are grown now and we are friends. But during those formative years, when they really need that firmness – we can’t be afraid. Teens that smell fear in their parents will act out and get into trouble.

    Reply
    • Suzanne
      January 30, 2013 at 5:03 pm (4 years ago)

      You’ve hit the nail on the head – they need a parent, not another friend. They have enough of those. I do agree that a balance needs to be found somewhere, too strict and you might just push them away altogether. I shall be sure not to allow them to “smell the fear”. Great comment, thank you :)

      Reply
  9. Looking for Blue Sky
    January 30, 2013 at 4:33 pm (4 years ago)

    My own parents were a bit strict and so I rebelled as a teenager, got into all sorts of trouble and my relationship with my parents was not good for years. To be honest, I think that different children need different parenting styles, strict works well for some, but not for others.

    PS I do have some boundaries, around things like 18 films and games, telling the truth, sticking to agreements made, and nastiness to others in the family is not tolerated either.

    Reply
    • Suzanne
      January 30, 2013 at 5:42 pm (4 years ago)

      Couldn’t agree with you more about parenting them all differently. This is something I am learning and trying to work through as it isn’t easy. I have another blog post brewing about this!

      Reply
  10. Anne Stone
    January 30, 2013 at 5:03 pm (4 years ago)

    I’m on my second round of parenting having two grown up children and now three little ones. I’ve learnt loads and having seen my children become adults I can work on what I did right and what I did wrong. I am stricter than I used to be but I think carefully about the rules I want to impose, or the punishments I want to dish out and I never do anything in anger. I have always been a mother first and a friend second, but I do wish I’d pushed more on the ‘do stuff for yourself’ front with my eldest.
    Very thought provoking post.

    Reply
    • Suzanne
      January 30, 2013 at 5:43 pm (4 years ago)

      ~I guess your younger children will definitely benefit from you having ‘done it all before’. Very interesting to read your thoughts. Thank you for commenting

      Reply
  11. Supergran
    January 30, 2013 at 5:04 pm (4 years ago)

    Yes – I suppose I was a bit of a soft touch! I think when one parent is very strict sometimes the other one has to be “good cop” to counterbalance it. I never wanted to be my children’s friend though. Plenty of time for that when they are grown up. However when one of my daughters described me as “the worst mummy in the world” because I wouldn’t give in – I felt quite pleased with myself! I think the previous comment has a point about different children needing different treatment though.

    Reply
    • Suzanne
      January 31, 2013 at 2:32 pm (4 years ago)

      Totally agree with the different children needing different treatment but that’s hard to get the balance right and not make them feel like a ‘target’….time for a new post!

      Reply
  12. SarahMummy
    January 30, 2013 at 7:02 pm (4 years ago)

    I like to think I’m a friend to my kids, but maybe not! I can be pretty strict and don’t quibble about telling other people’s kids off at football or rugby if their parents aren’t around and they’re doing something dangerous! So they probably think I’m the mean mum!

    Reply
    • Suzanne
      January 31, 2013 at 2:33 pm (4 years ago)

      I have also been known to tell other people’s kids off – try to keep a lid on it when they’re present though! I feel incensed when watching children misbehaving whether they’re mine or not, especially when it is mean or downright dangerous!

      Reply
  13. gina caro
    January 30, 2013 at 8:11 pm (4 years ago)

    I don’t think you sound horrible at all, just a good mum! This is a subject that I could rant about all night. I hate this culture of ‘the world owes me’ what happen to get off your backside and make things happen? I’ll stop now or I’ll take up all of your comment space lol. Great post x

    Reply
    • Suzanne
      January 31, 2013 at 2:34 pm (4 years ago)

      I agree Gina, I think there are far too many adults our age (or perhaps mine anyway!) who think like this. I wonder if it was their upbringing or society who have created them this way….ranting over! Thanks for commenting x

      Reply
  14. Little Lilypad Co
    January 30, 2013 at 10:14 pm (4 years ago)

    My mum was super strict and at the time I was not impressed but now, I hope to emulate the same love and discipline in my own parenting! I turned out okay (I think) xx
    Thanks for reminding us that sometimes we have to be hard to be heard xx

    Reply
    • Suzanne
      January 31, 2013 at 2:35 pm (4 years ago)

      As you can see, I take this approach too. I continually have to remind myself of the ‘cruel to be kind’ thing, it’s hard sometimes to push through the flack, especially with peer pressure coming in to the equation now they are older.

      Reply
  15. Kat Pearce
    January 30, 2013 at 11:31 pm (4 years ago)

    What a fantastic post and I agree with every word. I love the pictures and both are very true! I tried to think about my parents telling me off and can’t really remember it so it doesn’t matter for long. I have a great friendship with my parents now but I’m sure I screamed I hated them several times when I was younger! xx

    Reply
    • Suzanne
      January 31, 2013 at 2:40 pm (4 years ago)

      I think it’s probably par for the course in parenting but it does hurt sometimes :( I could do with striking the right balance but am a ‘work in progress’ – I’ll get there one day and they will be adults and have left home! x

      Reply
  16. Michelle Twin Mum
    January 30, 2013 at 11:35 pm (4 years ago)

    I am a meanie mummy just like you but they love me all the same. I do think distance and keeping perspctive that we are the parents is so important.

    Mich x

    Reply
    • Suzanne
      January 31, 2013 at 2:40 pm (4 years ago)

      Yes, I think too many people are ruled by their children….I’m the grown up! x

      Reply
  17. Mummy Plum
    January 31, 2013 at 11:36 am (4 years ago)

    Such a thought provoking post. I agree, I don’t think as parents we can be their friends, not whilst they are children anyway. My experience of being parented was just as you describe your own style and as a parent myself now, it’s pretty similar too. My husband was parented differently ( by his father at least) and his natural parenting style is to parent in much more of a ‘friend’ way. It makes for some interesting conversations in our house. It also means that Mummy is always the ‘meanie’ and sometimes I do get fed up of always being the disciplinarian and seen as ‘bad cop’.

    Reply
    • Suzanne
      January 31, 2013 at 2:43 pm (4 years ago)

      I am also ‘bad cop’ most of the time but I think it’s quite hard on Dads, particularly those who are at work most of the day, to come home and be tough on their kids. I’ve chosen that as my job! However I think they still love me! Thanks for commenting :)

      Reply
  18. Pinkoddy
    January 31, 2013 at 2:26 pm (4 years ago)

    This is brilliant.
    I think I have a balance. My children are spoilt.
    But then I made my 5 year old carry his own bags the other day and one of the other mothers turned to her friend and called me “harsh”
    Then today said, reception year, 5 year old said he had a headache – and I took him to school (to take his brother) and took him into see his teacher – and oh lookie he was well enough to stay lol.

    Reply
    • Suzanne
      January 31, 2013 at 2:47 pm (4 years ago)

      To be honest, I think most children are pretty spoilt. My own kids don’t want for anything compared to most children in the world. Nothing worse than an adult who behaves like aspoilt brat though is there?! I do the same with the school bags – have never carried them for my kids, even when they were 4! Mine also have to be unable to stand up to have a day off school (meanie!)

      Reply
  19. thepuffindiaries.com
    January 31, 2013 at 2:39 pm (4 years ago)

    Having adopted kids the requirement for boundaries and clear messages regarding acceptable and unacceptable behaviour is key. Your empathy has to run deep but at the same time you try your hardest to show your children the best ways to express themselves. I know other parents have looked on horrified when I carry through on a consequence that may seem harsh. My oldest boy has come so incredibly far and whilst an enormous amount of love and nurturing has been important standing my ground has been up there.
    Like you I hope when they are older we will be friends but right now I’m the parent, guiding them to the most positive future they can achieve.
    Great Post and I saw that article and felt the same.

    Reply
    • Suzanne
      January 31, 2013 at 2:45 pm (4 years ago)

      That’s really interesting. It’s hard but once a punishment has been suggested, it really MUST be carried through or your children will never take you seriously. I have had to pull out of play dates, sleepovers and all sorts. I do find that a firmer hand is needed for one child over the others and that is when things become tricky IMO. A new post needed for that one!

      Reply
    • thepuffindiaries.com
      January 31, 2013 at 2:54 pm (4 years ago)

      Again I agree, my two need a different approach completely and it does sometimes seem unfair but as the parent I have to believe that I know I’m doing it for all the right reasons, which I am. I look forward to that post!

      Reply
  20. Jini Finnigan
    January 31, 2013 at 9:29 pm (4 years ago)

    Love the post…saw the newspaper article on FB too…And the pinterest quote I even had it as my Status too:)

    According to my daughter (10) and son (8) and their friends I am the strictest mum. I was brought up in a different cultural environment where you respect the adults and you even greet strangers on the road by saying good morning, good afternoon!! and I am trying to instill the same values in them (minus the speaking to strangers bit)…Our household is a bit different just because there is no watching TV during school night. They are only allowed to watch TV starting Friday evening and during the weekend(still I controlled the hours) Their friends think I am’mean’ but my children are fine with it. After school, it’s homework and they both play piano so it’s 30 minutes piano and they can play or read, engage with something else instead of the TV. Their friends can come for sleepover but they are not allowed (I think they are too young…that’s just me!).As parents we have to have high expectations. For example I’ve never sworn in my life so I expect the same from my kids. I have christian values ( I do not go to church every Sunday!)and I expect the kids to have the same. My children never answer me back with attitude…they wouldn’t dare because I told them there will be consequences for every action and they know I mean it.
    As a mum…Do what you think it is best for your children. My parents were strict, fair and loving and amazingly this is what my daughter says about me so I must be doing something good. It can be tricky when you are in a mixed marriage but my OH and I work together, though he is a bit soft when it comes to imposing punishment.

    Can’t believe I wrote so much…good topic for discussion. Thanks for the post.
    Jini

    http://www.laperlenoire.co.uk

    Reply
    • Suzanne
      February 1, 2013 at 11:25 pm (4 years ago)

      Ha ha and my child think I’m strict! I think it’s partly about sticking to your decisions and being a confident parent, which you clearly are. I am sure your children will turn out to love and respect you. thanks for commenting

      Reply
  21. Sarah Miles
    January 31, 2013 at 10:18 pm (4 years ago)

    I wholly agree with you and worry about the ‘life owes me’ culture that has developed over my lifetime. As a teacher and having worked in boarding schools for most of my career it is paramount to remember the kids are not your friends, that you are in loco parentis. Like the poster says, friendship comes later – I try to do the same with my kids (busman’s holiday!) but unlike my pupils they ignore me! It is difficult to surrender your popularity for the bigger picture, but we are supposed to be older and wiser….sometimes I wonder.

    Reply
  22. Anonymous
    February 1, 2013 at 3:36 pm (4 years ago)

    loved your post.. I felt the same when I read yhe article.
    As a Grandmother I watch the different ways of parenting with interest. One of my grandchildren is always on her phone texting ir sending messages but I have a great relationship with her. We now have an agreement when we are out that she is not on the phone much. .
    One of children used to always say to me that they hated me and my answer was always ..”ok but thats a shame BUT I love you!!”
    Have enjoyed reading all the comments.

    Reply
    • Suzanne
      February 1, 2013 at 11:27 pm (4 years ago)

      Such interesting views and advice – I have certainly learnt a lot! Thanks for commenting and even I am guilty of being on my phone too much so can’t criticise kids! However there really is nothing worse then a child constantly glued to it!

      Reply
  23. Tori Wel
    February 1, 2013 at 9:15 pm (4 years ago)

    Absolutely and utterly agree with you! I remember seeing this article on Facebook a while back and sharing it. I also intend to do the same with the poem you put up too! A great post :)

    Reply
  24. Claire
    May 9, 2013 at 1:39 pm (4 years ago)

    With you all the way!

    Reply
  25. lynn
    May 11, 2013 at 8:50 am (4 years ago)

    Great post..I scare my daugher’s friends too. More importantly, guys are particularly scared of my husband! lol

    Reply
    • Suzanne Whitton
      May 20, 2013 at 10:54 am (4 years ago)

      I had a friend whose mother I was always scared of….I look back and wonder why now, she’s lovely! (Hoping my children’s friends will think the same one day!)

      Reply
  26. Mum of One
    May 20, 2013 at 1:00 pm (4 years ago)

    I am quite often the ‘bad-cop’ in this house, but I know my son still loves me and am sure he will understand why when he is bigger. This is a really lovely post, Thanks so much for linking to the Pin-It Party. I have come across such great stuff today and this is the kind of thing we were really hoping for that will really help other parents so thanks :) Have pinned and will follow now :)

    Reply

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