Friend or Parent? 3 Reasons to be a Parent First

Empowered Parents know that it is crucial for their children that they are parents first before being a friend, and here's why!

          Being a parent is hard, and making the decision of whether you should be a parent or a friend first can complicate things.  It is a growing debate the in parenting world.  Empowered Parents know that they must be a parent first before working on the friendship part.

          Empowered Parents understand their role and responsibilities when it comes to helping their children grow and develop.  Do they always make the right call?  Of course not, parenting is hard and does not always have one answer!  However, they do seek to be positive leaders for their children and act accordingly.

          There is a lot of responsibility on us as parents, and choosing to be a friend before a parent makes the job harder than it needs to be!  The parent-child relationship is one of the most powerful and unique relationships that there is.  With that in mind, here are three reasons why we need to be parents before being friends.

Reason #1:  Your Responsibility is to Mentor and Teach

parent mentoring child

          Empowered Parents understand that being a leader comes with the responsibility to mentor and teach their children in responsible and respectful ways.  This means setting limits and enforcing them in the home, helping your children learn how to solve problems and think about the consequences of their actions, and let the child stumble and fail when reasonable.

          Being a mentor has its hard moments.  Think about when you know your child is going to face a difficult task, how hard is it to let them take it on instead of taking over it for them to shield them from insecurity and defeat?  You must teach your children, through your example and the limits you establish, how to navigate their lives.  If you let the world do it for them, you won't like the outcome.

          As their parent, you bring your life experience to the table.  You hold expectations for your children, and then teach them how to reach those expectations.  You let them stumble so they learn how to get back up.  You do not bail them out of teaching moments because of insecurity, whether theirs or your own.  You do not necessarily turn to advice-giving right away; rather, you let your children work out their situation.

          If you choose to be a friend first, you are less likely to let your children experience and learn from the uncomfortable things in life.  You might try to shield them from defeat, anxiety, rejection, or the scary F word - failure.  This keeps your children from learning the skills they need to manage and cope with difficult situations and emotions.  When this happens, your children will not maximize their talents and strengths and will instead rely on others to take care of them.  That is the opposite of what Empowered Parents want to accomplish!

Reason #2:  Children Need Structure

mom talking with child

          As a parent, you set rules and limits, enforce them with consequences, and see the resulting tantrums and rebellions that can come with it.  Building a solid structure in the home is a hard thing to do, and at times it's tempting to let things go and have fun because it seems easier.  Unfortunately, this backfires terribly.

          When there is a consistent structure in the home that is implemented respectfully and responsibly, it benefits your children.  They learn to trust you and that you will follow through with what you say you are going to do.  You become predictable and they know what to expect.  This is powerful because they will not be scared to bring you their tougher problems as they get older.

          Structure helps you be a more effective mentor and teacher for your children.  This structure helps provide lessons in expectations and outcomes of what happens when certain choices are made.  Being able to recognize the cause-and-effect of their choices and behaviors is an important skill your children can learn that can come from a solid structure in the home. 

          When you focus on being friends first with your children, your structure will probably be sporadic and unpredictable.  You might set limits, and then find excuses or exceptions not to enforce them.  You want to be seen as the buddy, and enforcing rules and discipline is a threat to this.  Let’s face it, children do not like to be disciplined.  If you want to be their friend, then you must avoid this, right?  The consequences are profound and you won't see them until later in life.

          If you're interested in learning more about how to put a consistent structure in place, make sure to get your digital copy of Creating a Lasting Connection With Your Child - it comes with a bonus focused on building a structure!

Reason #3:  Benefit their Future

dad and teenage son

          Your children form a blueprint of how the world works when they live in your home.  They learn lessons about work, effort, receiving things, authority, relationships, patience, success, and so many other things.

          These lessons and the blueprint they create have a dramatic impact on the future of your children.  If you decide to be their friend, you might be setting up unrealistic expectations.  For example, if you bail them out of every problem, do not provide steady discipline, or give them too much freedom and responsibility before they are ready, you are depriving them of important lessons.

          When you bail them out of every problem, they do not learn how to take accountability.  In fact, they come to expect that someone will always take care of it for them.  They do not learn how to problem solve because there is no need to, someone else has that responsibility.  With too much freedom and responsibility comes bad decision making, which doesn’t matter because they think you'll take care of any problems that come from their choices.

          Empowered Parents are influential leaders that mentor their children through the hardships of life to prepare them for being on their own.  They make the tough calls and restrain themselves from stepping in when their child is struggling but can still manage on their own if given a chance.  Children from this type of environment have a greater chance of navigating their adult world more successfully.

parent and child knuckle bumping

          Parenting a child is an honor and the greatest form of leadership.  Empowered Parents recognize they must be the parental figure first before being a friend.  This does not mean that they are not friendly with their children, quite the opposite.  However, Empowered Parents do recognize they have powerful responsibilities to their children to help them be as prepared for their life and future relationships as possible.  It is a lot of work upfront, but when the child becomes an adult and the relationship evolves closer to friendship, the investment will have been worth it!

Categories: Empowered Parenting