Mother and daughter laugh at a festival with paint on their faces

Why You Should Take on the Parent Role and Not the Friend Role With Your Child

No guide can teach you everything there is to know about parenting skills or how to educate your child. But some approaches are better than others in terms of results.

Lots of parents, especially first-time parents, ask themselves which route should they take in raising a child, especially a successful child.

Some opt for a disciplinarian parenting approach and others a more friendly one. But since it’s a known fact that children need discipline, it’s important not to become their best friend.

Here’s a look at why you can’t be your child’s best friend along with tips on how to raise a successful child.

Why Being Your Child’s Friend Is A Risk

Parents are responsible for taking care of their children and doing what’s best for their wellbeing, even if it means being the bad guy sometimes. And you can still have a loving, respectful relationship with your child without being their friend.

Instead of being your child’s best friend, you can adopt an authoritative parenting style. With this parenting style, you are firm but kind. You run the show, and you don’t let your child make the decisions. You may offer them choices, but at the end of the day, you make the final decisions for your child.

Here are some reasons why this method works.

Children Need Discipline

Children need discipline, boundaries, and structure to feel safe and secure. Otherwise, they can experience stress and anxiety.

When kids have the structure and security of knowing what to expect and what is expected of them, they feel more comfortable and less anxious than kids who live in an inconsistent and unpredictable home.

Children are not emotionally or developmentally able to set these boundaries and make responsible decisions on their own, so parents shouldn’t let them.

With discipline, you can teach your child valuable life lessons that will keep them healthy, happy, and safe. It is up to you to teach your child what is safe and not safe, and what behaviour is appropriate and not appropriate so they can thrive in life.

Setting Rules and Boundaries

If you only aim to please your child, you are not preparing them for life in the real world, and you are not meeting the parent role of education for your child’s development. If you don’t set and enforce rules now because you’re afraid of upsetting your child, they will encounter failure and disappointment throughout their lives.

They will be faced with significant challenges at school, in their careers, and even in their relationships because they will have never learned to respect boundaries and follow the rules, nor will they have learned to respect authoritative figures or handle being told “No.”

You Both Need to Be Independent

As kids get older, especially in adolescence, they need a healthy amount of separation from their parents. This independence will help prepare them to become healthy, independent adults.

But if you act like your child’s best friend, doing everything together and giving in to their every desire, it will be difficult for them to separate themselves and develop into their own person. As a result, they could end up rebelling, never leaving the nest, or not being able to function on their own as adults.

As a parent, you also need time away from your kids. So if you need a confidante, reach out to adult friends, family, and peers instead of confiding in your children.

Parents who confide in their children often unknowingly place too much pressure on their kids to support their parents and worry about complex adult situations. And as a result, kids can sometimes be forced to grow up too quickly while not being actively involved with their own peers.

How to Raise A Successful Child Without Being Too Strict

Give Them Responsibilities

Give your kids things they can own, control, and be responsible for so they can succeed and fail on their own terms. For example, let them set their personal goals and weekly schedule. Or, give them weekly chores that they must do without being asked, along with a weekly allowance for doing the chores. And if they don’t take the initiative and do their chores, then they won’t get an allowance.

Also, let them spend their money as they see fit so they feel like they have more control over their earnings. You can suggest that they save up their allowance to buy that toy they want, but leave this responsibility of managing their money to them.

Value Respect

Teaching your child how to love and respect both others and themselves is a crucial part of childhood development. So be sure to show your child how much you love them each day. For example, when you get home from work, put your phone away, sit down with your child, and ask them how their day was.

This uninterrupted time with your child shows that they matter to you and that you respect them.

Teach Them How to Be Grateful

When parents give in to their children’s demands regularly, kids will always expect to get their own way. And they will take things for granted instead of learning to be grateful for whatever favour, gift, or treat someone gives them.

If they don’t get their own way, they will likely throw tantrums—even into their adult years!

Kids need to learn to be grateful and show gratitude for other’s kindness and generosity while also learning to reciprocate kindness themselves.

The parent’s role in child development is to keep a child safe and healthy while providing affection and nurturing their emotional and developmental needs. And contrary to popular belief, you do not have to make your kid happy at all times and be their best friend to be a good parent.

When it comes to a healthy parent-child relationship, your child will get mad at you sometimes. But as long as you’re guiding them down the right path in life, they will feel secure and loved, and grow up to be healthy, well-adjusted adults who respect you and the decisions you made as a parent.