My husband and I were sitting in the living room the other night, talking about our day, when our oldest came in and sat down nearby. She was listening at first, but then she started contributing to the conversation. I don’t even remember what we were discussing, but the experience left me thinking about how much changes through the course of parenting. How our children go from dependent babies to independent adults.
My greatest parenting wish is that we have a friendship through the journey.
Wait. I know what you are thinking. Be friends with your child? How can you do that and still have parental control? Do you share all those intimate details of your life with your child the way you would your best friend?
First of all, I do not believe the role of parents is to control their children.
I believe parents are the ultimate role model for their children, showing them how adults interact with themselves and with others in the world, from newborns to adults. Parents are the first and greatest relationship a child has with another in this world, and my main priority is to demonstrate respect, love, and living my values for my children. Controlling them would certainly make things easier some days! But I always keep the end goal in mind: one day, my children will be contributing members of society, and I want them to contribute respect, love, and living their values more than I want them to obey or be controlled by external influences.
Secondly, I would advise against using your child as your emotional sounding board.
While we can have a respectful relationship with our children, we do still have the responsibility of being the adult and knowing that certain things are not things children need to be concerned with in their young lives. Just as you know you share some things with your spouse, some things with a co-worker, some things with a person you just met, some things with a friend you have known for years, etc, there are different levels of openness with our children.
However, as our children grow into the teen years, I do find great value in the conversations I have with my daughter. We have discussed how I felt about a work or friend situation, and how she has felt similarly at school or with her friends.
Instead of expecting the other person to have solutions, we simply listen and respect how we are each processing and growing through this stage in our life.
I attribute the ability to have these conversations with my teen to the way we have had these conversations since she was little. What is that saying? “If you don’t listen to the small stuff when they are little, they won’t trust you with the big stuff when they are older, because to them, it has always been big stuff.” Something like that. It is absolutely true. We have established trust and confidence in one another, the way true friends do.
My greatest wish is that my children and I grow in friendship as we grow through their childhoods. They are some of the neatest people I know, and I am so thankful for them.