Raising kids is not easy. No matter how many times this phrase can be screamed across mountains, only a mom truly understands the struggle. Finding the balance between work, kids, home, social life (if you’re lucky) and everything else is a daily battle. You want the kids to be happy, and you want them to trust you. Building a relationship that allows for this isn’t as simple as it seems. There is a fine line between being your kids buddy, and being their parent.
As odd as it sounds, the worst thing you can do for your child is to be their friend. You have your role – and that is raising them right. You can’t do this if you are buddying up with them. There will be many times in life where they are being swept up by friends and doing the wrong things. And this is by no means their friends fault. Kids can’t be expected to know any better, and how could you expect them to keep your child in check?
Sometimes, most of the time, being a mom means making tough decisions. You will do things your child doesn’t like, you will discipline them for doing wrong and you will try your hardest to stop them going down the wrong path. This takes difficult, trying decisions sometimes, and you can be guaranteed your child won’t like them. Being their friend takes that authority and respect away. If you let them treat you like a buddy, you are letting them see you as equal. They will not listen to you if they don’t regard you as a parent, and if you have placed yourself as their friend, you might not make the ‘uncool’ decisions that you need to.
Friends come and go, but moms are there to stay. It can be hard, but here a few tips on how to create and keep your role as mom and not friend.
Set boundaries – In no way does it mean you can’t have fun with you kids. Have all the fun you can, cherish them and enjoy them. Do fun activities, go for walks and jump on trampolines together. But make sure your kids know that you will step up to the plate and be the ‘bad guy’ when you need to. Separate yourself from being on their level, and put your foot down when you need to. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to please them as their friend, you are there to guide them and discipline them, you can only do that as their mom.
Encourage them to have their own friends – Your child will naturally gravitate towards you as their friend if they are not getting the stimulation elsewhere. Encourage them to make friends at school or set up play dates with other kids. By having their own friends and nurturing their own relationships, they will be able to know the difference between mother and friend. Social interactions and relationships are also vital for kids growing their sense of self and independence outside of the household.
You need to have your own friends – As much as your kids need their own friendships, you do as well. If you aren’t getting adult social interaction, you will inevitably look to your child for this companionship. Not only does it blur the lines between mother and friend for your child, but it makes it difficult for you to discipline your child and make the correct decisions that mothers need to make if you are too focussed on protecting the ‘friendship’.
You need to protect your child and look out for their best interests at all costs. You need to do this as a mother. By placing yourself as their mother and not their friend you are giving yourself the room you need to put those difficult decisions into play when you need to. You are also placing yourself in the position to see things differently than a friend would, allowing you to act in your child’s best interests at all times.
You do not need to be their friend. They will have many growing up. They will only have one mother. They need you to be there to guide them, to shout at them, to lead them and to teach them things only a mother can.