I am friendly but not a friend. I love my children but we are not friends. Hopefully, if I raise them well, we will be friends when they are older. But we are not friends now. All parents have influence over their children. Fathers, step-fathers, mothers, step-mothers, significant others. Whomever is in their life is influencing them. But I think the mother has the greatest influence. If she is present or not. Being friends isn’t our job. It isn’t my job.
I am kind and compassionate of their worries. I share in their joys. I share my own sadness as appropriate, enough to show I am human and not perfect. Enough to keep me from the pedestal. I think children place their parents on a pedestal because we are always telling them what to do and how to do it as if we didn’t learn to do these things ourselves. We don’t share our own misgivings, our challenges along the road of learning.
And then other parents share too much, no boundaries at all. Talk about adult problems or adult circumstances. Bash other people or even bash the other parent. Adult problems should be talked through with other adults.
There is a balance in there. I am looking for it often. Being friends with them is not the answer. Children are a product of their environment. They are a product of our time. Not the amount of time but the quality of it. And quality doesn’t equate to money. Money doesn’t make a good kid turn into a good adult. I think quality is playing 17 games of Uno. Quality is coloring together, writing stories together, reading books together – something I should do more of. Friday night, as tired as I was, I read 58 pages of a science themed children’s book about animals with fangs. I read it with enthusiasm and energy and wonder. We even looked up some unfamiliar words and pictures of unfamiliar animals named in the book. They loved it. It took us an hour and a half. It would have been easier to turn on the TV. But I don’t think they will remember the TV when they are older. I think they will remember the other stuff. So that’s the stuff I strive to do as often as I can. That’s what childhood memories a made of.
I am friendly but I’m not a friend. You will NEVER hear me refer to one of my children as my “best friend”. And hearing others do it drives me nuts. Children need friendly parents and friends. We have fun but we have rules. My job is to raise them not befriend them. They shouldn’t like me all the time. I try to pick my battles based on how much impact they will have on future development of self. I try not to pick at everything so when I do pick they know it’s important. They keyword here is try. I am not successful sometimes but I think that’s ok because again, I’m a real person who has bad days and makes mistakes. It is what the recovery looks like that’s important. It’s apologizing for going off the deep end, swallowing the humble pie. That is just as important as the other.