First, there’s the need to tackle what “Friendship” means in this context.
Though every Friendship is different, for most parent-child relationships, the general qualities expected are; mutual loyalty, respect, trust, honesty, open communication, active listening, and pure love.
Imagine walking into a restaurant and the waiter receives your order with a very hostile attitude or lets say, an aggressive nurse providing medical care to a patient. For these two instances- Food and Health, both having to do with life, we do not take for granted.
So let’s envision the relationship between a parent and child. The child like the “food and health” above, is dependent on the parent. The child relies on the parent for everything and the Parent depends on the child also. This implies that a level of trust needs to be built between the two parties.
How then can we build this trust without exhibiting respect, honesty, open communication, and love? How could I ever open up to an authoritative parent? Of course, I’ll be scared whenever I’m in contact with him or her (You know, the kind of parent you have that when you hear him/ her hunk at the gate, you hit the room and dive on the bed).
With controversies on the term, “Child-Friendly Parent”, it is important to note that, while working towards having a warm relationship with your child, there should be times when “being firm” is not compromised.
How can I be Child-Friendly without of course being permissive?
- Be calm even in the midst of chaos – According to Jim Fay, “when we do discipline without showing frustration, success rate increases”.
- Offer Choices – This helps them feel a sense of control.
- Plan with them – Set ground rules and ensure they understand the consequences of breaking the rules. This while teaching responsibility helps them make the right choices.
- Treat them with respect – Respect they say is reciprocal.
- Have an Open form of Communication – Together, create a list of achievable expectations considering the child’s age, developmental stage, and resources available. Hold meetings to review the list and make amendments where and when needed.
- Trust the child – Just as you expect your child to believe what you say, he/she expects the same too. By offering your trust, your child learns to do the same.
- Be Honest – By being transparent, your child understands that it’s alright to make mistakes and that you are also human.
We should understand that at some point in a child’s development, the parenting role must establish an element of friendship.
However, in the early stages of parenting, it is expected that you establish your parenting role by guiding the child and ensuring he/she understands that there are boundaries and that you are the authority. You simply parent! Friendship should come after the fact that you are in charge is established- at early adulthood.
Though it is important to note that trying to be a friend to your child is also not easy, as there are consequences – blocking your role of authority, which may arise if the parent-child-friend role isn’t properly transited.