Are You Your Child’s Friend?

September 4, 2017

My son recently asked me if I was his friend. “No,” I answered. “I am your mom.”

His instinctual response was that it was mean of me to say “no,” probably because he observes that kind of overly friendly relationship between his peers and their parents. I argued, however, that it wasn’t mean. Our relationship would be akin to a friend telling me to clean my room or brush my teeth or do my homework. I explained this to him, and he looked at me funny at first. Ultimately, I think he understood: a friend wouldn’t demand you be nice to your brother.

From one extreme to another, we have gone from a society where parents distanced themselves from their offspring to such an extent that the children basically raised themselves to the society we see now; in modern times, many parents try to be too buddy-buddy with their children. It is not bad to forge a close bond with your children, of course, but it can diminish your role as the authoritative voice in the relationship.

Don’t get me wrong: I want to feel connected to my sons. As a mother — as a parent — that is normal. I want to know certain details, like what is happening in their lives, the kind of people they are surrounding themselves with, their interests, and what is important to them. This sort of information allows me to know they are on the right path. But it is important that they have space for them to find themselves, too. I cannot act as a shortcut on their life’s journey.

As my sons grow older, I acknowledge the fundamental significance of them finding their position in this world on their own terms. This can only be done through personal experience. It can be hard for any parent to accept this inevitability because it admits a loss of control. Although it is natural, it is still difficult. Yet we must learn how and when to let go.

Determining the “how” and “when” can be confusing because it is not always clear, and it changes on each individual basis. Some children need more guidance than others. Therefore, it is important for parents to work on themselves, first and foremost. This builds our sensibility.

If you are a parent, work on strengthening yourself and your mental fortitude. Think back to the time in your life before you had children. You were simply… you. Because there were less people to consider when making decisions, perhaps it was much easier to view life with clarity. Try to return to that. Reconnect with yourself. This reflection can help you rediscover your potential, including rationalizing your thoughts and feelings so that they can be transferred into healthy, beneficial decision-making for you and your family.

When you self-reflect, you are able to self-correct yourself. By design, your children will learn to do the same. They look up to us, after all — or, at least, that’s how the relationship should function. Upholding the voice of authority, we act as a powerful mentor to our children rather than a chummy friend whom they don’t take seriously. With that strong relationship established, you and your children can grow together as you both experience the ups and downs of life.

It can be hard to stay sane when parenting, especially when the expectations can be so high. I meditate to keep myself grounded. If you’re looking for some relief, I recommend the Anxiety Releasing Meditation to help you remain in balance. The Seven Wave Meditation is also great; it helps you get your act together if you’re feeling particularly scattered. Lastly, you might want to explore I Am I Am or Me Within Me Meditation to help keep your own identity in tact. Remember: it’s important you remember your role, part of your identity, as a parent.

You will see the fullest benefits of these meditations if you practice daily for at least 40 days. Try it out and see if you like the changes it brings to you, your life, and your parenting. Once the 40 days are up, you might find yourself especially relaxed — and you may just want to continue practicing meditation daily!

– Madhur-Nain