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October 5, 2015

Friend or Disciplinarian?

 

“I want my child to feel she can see me as a friend but, at the same time, I need to wear other hats such as the disciplinarian. How can I balance the two?”
~Confused Mom

 

We all want to be liked by our kids, don’t we? I have yet to meet a parent who doesn’t, yet the burden of being a disciplinarian can feel just like that—a burden. It can feel like the two are mutually exclusive:  I am either liked by my child or respected; I am either a friend or a disciplinarian.

 

I have good news for you. You can be liked and respected, but not necessarily in that order.

 

Before we go forward, however, let me address the “friend” issue:  I hesitate to say we need to be our child’s friend because a friend connotes a mutual standing. Typically, friends do not have authority over another friend, yet parents need to be the authority in the home. And while there can be a friendly and kind relationship, there is a distinction between parent and child…at least while the kids are young. And you can absolutely be a friendly parent, a kind authority within this hierarchy.

 

The challenge, in many ways, is seeking balance between being the business parent and the personal parent. The business parent is all about the schedule, the structure, rules, and consequences. If left unchecked, the business parent can become ALL business. Conversely, the personal parent can appear to be ALL fun. This parent is playful, nurturing, fun, and affectionate.

 

Sadly, some families assign one role to each parent:  Mean Mommy and Fun Daddy or Heavy-Handed Dad and Softy Mom. This should not be. Both parents need to embrace both aspects of their role—business and personal. All discipline should not be left to one parent; nor should all fun. Whether you share parenting duties or it’s all on your shoulders, you need to find that balance.

 

So here are some questions to help you gauge if you’re balancing the business and personal sides of your role:

 

  1. Did I spend time talking to my child today in a personal manner? Was it lighthearted? Was I interested in him/her as a person?
  2. Was I consistent in my discipline? Was our home orderly?
  3. Was I mostly bossy? Was I more concerned with rules than relationship? (If yes, bring in some fun!)
  4. Did I ignore discipline issues because I was too concerned with being liked? Did I skip structure because I didn’t want to rock the boat? (If yes, then become more business-like.)

 

As stated earlier, you can be liked and respected, but not necessarily in that order. In other words, when we are too intent on being liked by our kids, we lose their respect. Our kids have the opportunity to have many friends, but they only have us as parents. Let’s not abandon the privilege of being a kind authority figure in their lives.

In other words, when we are too intent on being liked by our kids, we lose their respect. Click To Tweet

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