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November 24, 2014

Being a True Friend to Your Child

Image: Flickr/Lauren Hammond

Image: Flickr/Lauren Hammond

“A wise parent humors the desire for independent action, so as to become the friend and advisor when his absolute rule shall cease.” (Elizabeth Gaskell)

Sure, lots of folks take offense at the idea of being “friends” with your child. “They don’t need me to be their friend; they need me to be their parent!” And that’s true…for a while. But remember this: the whole goal of parenting is to help our kids get to the place where they don’t need us any longer. They’re supposed to outlive us, after all. That may be hard to think about, but it’s true nonetheless.

The sad truth is too many of us like to be needed by our children. It gives us a feeling of importance and worth that’s otherwise hard to come by.

Still, at some point, our children will be on their own. They won’t need our permission to do things or go places. That won’t happen all at once — at least it shouldn’t. But, as our kids grow, we should be giving them more and more freedom (and responsibility). We should be teaching them to become good decision makers, which doesn’t happen without a lot of trial and error. Making mistakes and getting hurt is an integral part of that process.

The more you can encourage your child to become independent and self-reliant, the more they’ll come to believe in themselves. And when you champion their dreams (instead of your own), they’ll come to see you as a true friend and a trusted advisor.


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