"I am not your friend, I am your parent. I will stalk you, flip out on you, lecture you, drive you insane, be your worst nightmare & hunt you down when needed because I love you! When you understand that, I will know you're a responsible adult. You will never find someone who loves, prays,cares and worries about you more than me! This is my promise to you."
I recently saw this poster on Pinterest and quoted on Facebook and it got me to thinking... Hmmmmm, really? Do we really want our children to grow up believing friends are people who say “yes” to them, and that people who love them are controlling and punitive?
I work hard to have a loving connection with my children. The last thing I want to be is their stalker or their worst nightmare, but given the number of times I saw this posted as a status on Facebook, not everyone agrees. I get it; people have the impression that if you’re friends with your children that you let them do whatever they want — party with them, drink with them, get into trouble with them. But that’s an awfully narrow definition of friend — and not necessarily the definition of “friend” I want my children to have.
I try to be an example of the friend I want my children to be to others, and also of the kind of person I want my children to be friends with:
I am a leader. I think hard about the decisions I make so they’re good ones, even if they’re not popular. I want my children to surround themselves with thinking people — the ones who will say no to drugs or getting into a car with a drunk driver. It’s a lot to ask of anyone to make good decisions all the time, but it’s not too much to ask for them surround themselves with people who make good decisions most of the time.
I set boundaries. I don’t want my children to be givers or takers — I want them to be both. I want them to be generous, but I also want them to be honest when they need something. I want the people around them to be the same way, so no one feels taken advantage of or used. Friends need open and honest dialogue.
I am kind and gentle. Friends don’t hit each other, and they apologize when they get upset or frustrated.
I listen. Yes, I need to guide my children, but before I can tell them where to go I need to know where they’re coming from. My children want to be heard, even when they say disturbing or careless things. Most of the time, they just need a safe place to say those things without judgment or action. I want to be the person they come to, and I want them to be a safe place for others too.
I am their mentor. I want all my children’s friends to be people they admire and people they can learn from. Every relationship should add something to our lives, and it should start at home.
I respect them. I learn so much from my children, and I want them to be comfortable around people who learn from them too. Even though my children are my responsibility to feed, clothe, and keep safe, they have so much to teach me. I want them to be confident in their relationships with people of authority, so I show them how valued they are.
As a mother, I’m more than a friend to my children, but our relationship starts with friendship, and it’s a model of friendship I want them to carry with them throughout their life. If I never show them friendship, how will they know how to be a friend? How will they know what kind of friend to be?
I’m so proud to call my children my friends, and I hope that one day many people will be proud to call my children their friends too.