Should parents be friends with children?

Should parents be friends with children?

This is a much discussed and debated area. It has its advantages as well as disadvantages. At 46, I still get parented on managing work, balancing life, raising children, diet planning, etc. The best part of being parented is, it gives a sense of security, a feeling of love and affection and the concern for me by my parents. At the same time, being a parent of an 18+ child and parenting the child is a totally different ball game.

Parenting , in its true sense, is teaching, guiding and equipping the child to know how to make wise choices, to be disciplined,to accept responsibility when he/she has not made a wise choice, to be shown how to love and respect self and others, to make friends, and to evolve into a wise young person. 24 years of experience in the field of education and dealing with students and parents of students from pre-primary to secondary, I feel the 8 Ts enumerated below would be extremely helpful in coaching us on dealing with kids of today.

Treat the child as an individual who can think and act independently. It gives him/her a sense of ownership for the task undertaken. It will enhance the morale of the child and build leadership skills.

Trust the child regardless of the outcome. Success and failure are a part of learning. Success always gives a boost to the child’s confidence. At the same time, the fear of failure or coping with failure too plays a major role in sustaining the confidence of the child or send it plummeting down.In that case, a parent’s support or confidence helps to bring him/ her back on track.

Talk to the child about his/her dogmas, aspirations, concerns, likes and dislikes with openness. A child might feel being at home with a classmate than a parent. It substantiates the uncertainty of trust on the parent. So get a platform to talk to the child. With regard to communication, keep all doors open. Building that trust, wherein the child feels free to express anything, is very important.

Test the child’s patience and perseverance while he/she is entrusted with a task. It reinforces as well as stabilises the grit to stay focused on problem-solving techniques and coping with future. The parent should not intervene or help in case he/she is not able to cope. When the going is smooth, chances to learn are less.

Travel with the child. Explore new places and join him/her in new adventures. It builds a bonding for a lifetime and teaches life skills too.

Thank the child for whatever good deeds the child has done to you or others or teach the value of being thankful for others around. The child’s character building becomes profound.

Track the child on the use of social media. Discuss the constructive aspect as well as the destructive aspect of it. A healthy relationship can be fostered through the right choice and right collaboration over social media.

To say NO to the child. Parents should learn to say no at times so that the child will grow up to understand that there are things in life that need to be earned the hard way.

All the T’s listed above require the parent to be a good friend with kids.

On the flipside, I come across parents who are concerned about being their child’s friend. The assumption is that a friendly parent may not be able to establish an authority over his/her child. The child may even question interference and not take things seriously. This leads to helicopter parenting wherein child has parents hovering over with nothing much for the child to do or think by himself/herself.

In the given context, my advice to each parent is to have a hawk’s eye on the child’s routines but at the same time, have to tread a fine line and make ‘informed choices’ on when to ‘let go’ and when to ‘hold on’.

Cheers to Happy Parenting !!!

Sunitha Gujjula

Principal, Westberry High School, Bhimavaram Campus

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