Should We Be Friends with Our Children?

September 24, 2019
Surely you've heard the phrase: "My daughter is like my best friend" or vice versa. In this article, we'll talk about this topic and we'll raise some thoughts to answer the question regarding whether or not we should be friends with our children. 

Nowadays, the relationship between parents and children has changed; it’s no longer an authoritarian, strict relationship with set limits that cause the relationship to be narrow and informal. Today, it’s common to behave like friends with our children rather than parents.

Moreover, many parents argue that being their children’s confidant and colleague is a good way to raise and educate them.

The relationship between parents and children today

The relationship that most parents have with their children in our time is characterized as being a close relationship; even in its most complex stage, which is adolescence.

Today’s parents seek to be more in touch with their children, spending time with them, being aware of what they do, their fashion and tastes, and sharing quality time and hobbies with them.  

Many parents intend to establish a peer-to-peer relationship with their children. Sometimes, it’s not easy to distinguish who is setting the limits and has authority; is it the parents or the children?

The children of past generations would ask for permission to go out or to do things. Today, they only inform or notify. Even the way children talk to and address their parents has changed; presently, it’s not as strict.

Should We Be Friends with Our Children?

Why it’s not advisable to be friends with our children

While parental relationships have been changing throughout our history, parents should be cautious when establishing and adopting a parenting style and a relationship with their children in terms of “friendship.”

First, there are certain social roles that have a purpose, that is, they fulfill a certain function in relationships between people. Therefore, we mustn’t lose sight of the fact that being a parent is a social role; which is why parents must inspire authority and set limits. This should always be done, of course, through dialogue, trust, respect, and love.

Secondly, some parents can’t become friends with their children because that would imply maintaining this role in each and every circumstance of life, which is impossible. It’s precisely the children who sometimes demand authority, presence, and adult recognition. However, they’re the ones who need restriction based on maturity and experience.

The answer to the question of whether we should be friends with our children is “no.” Alicia Banderas, in her book Little Tyrants, argues that parents can’t be friends with their children and that their educational task is to find the balance between authority and affection.

The author states that parents should know how to set limits in time to prevent children from becoming true tyrants.

Establishing a friendly relationship isn’t the same as being friends with our children

Parents, instead of being friends with our children, can try to build a friendly relationship with them without turning off our roles as parents. To establish a friendly relationship with our children, we should keep in mind that:

  • Talking, reasoning, and negotiating limits is ok, but establishing them is essential. Parents should know how to say no and give their children enough reasons as to why.
Parents can establish a friendly relationship with their children.

  • It’s good to demonstrate affection, closeness, and body contact. Without the need to be friends with their children, parents can create an affectionate relationship with them that fosters dialogue and fluid communication.
  • Although friends gain lots of trust, this doesn’t mean that children can’t share their worries, needs, joys, and fears with their parents. To this end, it’s important for parents to generate enough trust with their children so they feel they can share their problems. However, they should also know how to accept the opinions and advice that their parents give them.

Undoubtedly, a friendly relationship with our children is…

A healthy, open, honest, flexible, and communicative parent-subsidiary relationship. It’s also important to have a relationship based on respect for parental authority and children’s acceptance of justified and agreed limits.

Unlike being friends with our children, in a friendly relationship, it’s possible to make authority and love compatible. This is essential for children to understand that their parents’ decisions and actions have no other intention than the good, safety, and happiness of their children.

  • Banderas, A. (2010). Pequeños tiranos: Cómo lograr que tus hijos pasen de ser niños desobedientes a adolescentes responsables. Editorial TIMUN MAS. Barcelona.
  • Mestre, M. V., Tur, A. M., Samper, P., Nácher, M. J., Cortés, M. T. (2007). Estilos de crianza en la adolescencia y su relación con el comportamiento prosocial. Revista Latinoamericana de Psicología, vol. 39, núm. 2, 2007, pp. 211-225. Recuperado de https://www.redalyc.org/pdf/805/80539201.pdf