The Parental Struggle: To Befriend or Parent Your Child


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The Parental Struggle: To Befriend or Parent Your Child

Being a parent is not easy. As a parent you try to consider your child and yourself. You become a master navigator of feelings as you delicately try to raise a self-sufficient and thriving human being. Being a parent you try to fulfill the emotional role and functional role that your child needs. However, as children get older many parents find themselves fulfilling the emotional role more and wanting to be a friend opposed to a parent. This can be detrimental in your efforts of wanting to create a healthy, self-sufficient and thriving human being.

Let’s first start by breaking down what the emotional and functional roles of parents are. Keep in mind that both functions are necessary but the amount of which you give changes depending on the age of your children.

The emotional role is one based on affection, love, esteem building, attention, care, nurturing, etc. In example, a parent will show this to their newborn through rocking the child, reading them a bedtime story, cuddling, mirroring their expressions, etc.

The functional role is where the parent assumes responsibility for teaching and sharing the ways of life in order to function properly. In example, a parent will show this to their newborn by feeing them, changing their diapers, bathing, etc.

Both the emotional role and the functional role go hand in hand, it is about finding the balance for the age of your child. When you child is young it is necessary for they’re to be an even amount of emotional role and functional role. They are dependent on you to learn how to speak, for basic survival needs and this is also the optimal time for bonding. The equal balance of these roles is very necessary. As your children get older the parental role becomes more functional and less emotional.

At this time your probably thinking, what?! I don’t understand. Am I supposed to show them less love, or less affection? No. Continue to show them love, care and affection. But the importance is focused on the functional role and this is where many parents get wrapped up into being their child’s “friend”. They want to be the “cool” parent so that their child talks to them. Or they are “always honest” with their kids because their kids are mature and can handle it. A parent’s role is to raise healthy, self-sufficient, thriving human beings. If you are ONLY being their “friend” you are doing your child a disservice.

Here are some parental do’s and don’ts:

*Parents should not confide in their children.

*There is a normal level of secrecy that children have with their parents, its apart of their journey toward individuation.

*Parents shouldn’t share everything instead they should only share what is necessary.

*Parents should set boundaries and limitations.

*Parents should have consequences for misbehavior.

By being your child’s parent and not their “friend” you are teaching them to respect authority. You are teaching them to have faith and confidence in you as a parent and to trust your opinion when expressed. You are allowing them to live as a child and not jump into the role and the worries of an adult. You are structuring their lives with healthy boundaries. You are raising a healthy, self-sufficient, thriving human being….isn’t that the goal?!


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