Parent or friend? Be both

I’ve been working on this blog post for a few weeks now.  You see, lately I’m hearing this statement a lot: “You’re the parent, not your child’s friend.” While I certainly disagree with parents who have given up all control of their home in the name of being their child’s “friend”, I also think it is possible and desirable to be both.

During last 20 years or so, there was a trend in parenting toward less discipline and more entitlement.  Suffice it to say, the fruit of this parenting style was, well, rotten.  Now there’s a swing in the other direction.  (Why must we always embrace extremes?)

This morning, I viewed a viral video on Facebook that both infuriated me and broke my heart.  A father, upset over discovering his daughter’s hidden Facebook post in which she complained vehemently about her parents, decided to publicly shame and humiliate his daughter by making a video and posting it on her Facebook page.  He ended the video by shooting several bullets into the daughter’s laptop.  In case you haven’t seen it, you can view the video here.

There are so many things wrong with this, I barely know where to begin.  I won’t disagree that the daughter gives the appearance of an ungrateful, spoiled brat, but how did she get that way?  Also, what teenager has NOT complained about their parents, their chores, etc.?  I’m tempted to locate this man’s father and ask how compliant he was as a teenager.  And finally, he describes his daughter as childish.  At least she has an reason – she IS a child.  What’s his excuse?

OK, sorry, had to get that rant out there.  I’m better now.  :)

It’s obvious the disconnect between this man and his daughter was there long before he made this video.  What happened here is an example of a father reacting in anger and hurt, rather than doling out discipline motivated by love.  The bullets he shot might have just as well gone (metaphorically) through his daughter’s heart.  The damage is going to be difficult to repair, and I predict he will regret this for a long time to come.

Respect is a two way street.  If your goal is to be respected by your children, be respectful.  The best kind of authority is one that rarely needs to be exercised.

I grew up in a home when parental authority was unquestioned.  If you disobeyed, you knew there would be punishment.  There were no idle threats, there was no discussion, and there were certainly no plea bargains.

Both of my parents were regarded as authority figures, but they were also my friends.  I obeyed out of respect and admiration.  To this day, I still count my mom as one of my closest friends.  As a teen, I could talk to her about anything from the deeply spiritual to the inane, and so could a lot of my friends.  I enjoyed her company, but she also knew when to hang back and give me privacy and solitude.  We have many stories of shared adventures.  And yet, when she told me it was my turn to do the dishes, I did them.

I’ve tried to model a great deal of my parenting style after my mother and father.  Just like any other parent, I’ve had my share of failures.  However, I think if you asked my kids, they would call me both parent and friend.  At least I hope so.


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