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wundayatta's avatar

Parents: are you your child's friend?

Asked by wundayatta (58709points) November 6th, 2011

Can you be a friend to your child? Or is it impossible to be a friend and a parent at the same time?

It seems to me that friendship is an equal relationship. Obviously, parents and children do not have equal relationships. One is responsible for the other… or is supposed to be responsible for the other.

I tell my daughter that I’m not her friend. I’m her father. I’m not eligible to be her friend, and she is always giving me shit about that. I can’t tell if she’s serious or if she’s just teasing me. I hope she doesn’t feel like I don’t like her if I don’t call myself her friend.

In any case, as we had this discussion tonight, she suggested I ask the question of you guys.

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22 Answers

Rarebear's avatar

No. I am her father.

DominicX's avatar

I’ve always been confused by this topic. Are the two opposites? What does a parent have to do before they’re considered to be their child’s “friend”? Is it just a matter of saying it? Is it doing things with their child that friends would do? Is it refusing to discipline or do other things a parent’s supposed to do?

filmfann's avatar

I always told my kids that I am their father, not their friend.
But I am also their ally. It is important that they recognize that.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Well I guess I just don’t think about parenting in terms of that dichotomy. For me being a parent isn’t about being a parent or a friend. Being a parent involves many roles, one of which is to be a friend for my children. But obviously not the same kind of transient friend they might have when they’re teens or whatever, a friend for life rather who loves them and wants to help them. I feel that every time this dichotomy is presented, the friend in this equation is something not to be desired. I guess I have a different definition of what a friend is, that’s all.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

No. Even though I am their confidant and a safe place to bounce ideas back and forth, they know by now I have no problem making the call between keeping something secret and acting out of deep concern. Hopefully they do or will appreciate me for this, they have plenty of other people around them to give them lip service.

zensky's avatar

Rarebear is a guy?

No – I am his father. Luke.


I’m against the idea of parents being “buddies” with their children. I’m my children’s father, not their buddy. I love them dearly and I’m devoted to them, and we share a very special and close-knit bond, but they know that I’m their father, and that I’m head of the household. If they need me, I’m always there for them, emotionally, physically, and financially. It’s not an equal relationship, and it shouldn’t be. But it’s a relationship with unconditional love and support.

EmptyNest's avatar

I was both to my children. A friend when it was appropriate and a mother when they needed to be disciplined. I never had a problem with it. Now that they are adults, we are friends and not strangers because I wasn’t afraid to be a friend to them.

Coloma's avatar

My daughter and I are friends now, and have been the last handful of years she turns 24 on the 18th but I was much more concerned with parenting and felt “friends” came later.
Yes, friends denotes equality and parenting denotes, well, parenting.

We had fun together, but parenting takes precedence.

I do not agree at all with parents that try too hard to be “cool” and play a peer role instead of a parenting role.

zenvelo's avatar

I am father to my kids, not their friend. They know there is a difference, that I will always, to the best I can, be there for them, even when they don’t know they need my support.

From what the child custody evaluator reported, they understand that and rely on it.

perspicacious's avatar

My children are grown. I was always a quasi-friend; I was Mother first and friend second. They are now grown.

martianspringtime's avatar

I’m not a parent, so excuse me for butting in anyway
I consider my mother my friend, and I know that she considers me hers as well. I don’t think the two are as exclusive as everyone makes them out to be. She has always been responsible for me, but that doesn’t mean she hasn’t been able to also be a friend. I think it’s a lot more likely that a kid will go to you when they have a problem if they consider you a friend as well as a parent. @Emptynest has the right idea, in my opinion.

size7's avatar

NO. I am my children’s parent, not friend. My duty is to guide them through childhood to the best of my ability to ensure they are “good” adults. I hope my beliefs and teachings have passed on to them, but I won’t know for sure until they are on their own.

ucme's avatar

I’m their…..
& numerous other things I can’t be bothered to list.
A true multi-task operation, one that I relish.

cazzie's avatar

I think a parent is a friend with authority as well as all the things @ucme mentioned.

I´m not so insecure or naive to think that by giving yourself a label, your child will trust you or respect you. Children still need to see that you are worthy of respect, what ever name you put on it.

MissAusten's avatar

I take the same approach as @filmfann and @ucme . I don’t think there has to be a total separation, that parents can have fun with their kids, be silly, relax, and not always be “on duty.” At the same time, parents have to be willing to let their kids be mad at them, hold kids accountable for their actions, and insist on a certain level of respect.

It’s fun as they get older, too. Now that my daughter is approaching her teen years, we can do things I can’t do with her brothers. She’s getting more grown up in her humor and attitudes, she’s finally reading books I read so we can talk about them, and sometimes she seems to almost enjoy shopping with me. :) She’s an interesting young woman and I’d be losing out on a lot by not being her friend on some level.

smilingheart1's avatar

Now as adults yes, but as children we did not want to become their expected entertainers and time fillers so tried to keep a balance of nurturing love and expecting them to determine their own choices of what to do within a scope when boredom was the issue.

snowberry's avatar

At this stage of their lives, yes. But if my kids need me to turn into Mrs. Mom again, I’ll do it. Hopefully not.

boxer3's avatar

my parents have always been:

parent first
friend second.

now that I’m older I think it’s more simultaneous.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

I’ve thought about this from another perspective, too. My mother and I were more like rival siblings while I was growing up. It’s took me into my mid 30’s before I can say we became friends and felt mutually “adult”.

mattbrowne's avatar

No, because I don’t believe in this concept at all.

Seaofclouds's avatar

To me, being a parent includes being a friend in some ways. I think it changes a bit as our children grow. In the younger years, I played games and did fun things with my children as a friend would in addition to doing all the parental things a mother has to do. I have spent many hours on the floor playing with cars and legos over the years. I expect as my son gets older, that will change some because he will prefer to do those things with friends his age and not his mom. I expect that during these upcoming years as we enter the teens and get through them, he will see me as less of a friend and our relationship with be primarily one of mother/child. I think that’s a natural progression. Once he’s an adult, I imagine things will change again and I am looking forward to seeing how it all turns out.

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