I know this title sounds pretty cold but it is the unvarnished truth—a parents’ job is to provide structure (as well as love) not to be buddies with their children.
Friends are equals – while parents need to be the authority who is responsible for providing and protecting their children. Your child shouldn’t be your confidante – parents should provide for children’s needs rather than look to them to meet the adult’s unmet love or friendship needs.
It is essential that you get comfortable setting limits when your children are young because it certainly won’t get easier later. In other words, the three year old who calls you a “butthead” will soon be a 13 year old calling you an “a—hole.” Now is the time to step up and be the parent!
When one of my daughters was 4 years old she asked me if I was her friend? My response was “No, I’m your mommy but I hope when you grow up that we’ll be friends like grandma and I are now.” Ten years later we are much closer than most teens and their mothers, but she knows I’m in charge (although still tests it regularly!)
Remember your job is to be in charge, not to be likeable or “nice”—it is to be a responsible parent who shows and expects respect. If you establish your role early as the parent (rather than trying to be their friend) the battles later will be easier.
For more reading on this topic check out: