Something that happens when you’re childless: parents think you know nothing about children.
I’m not a parent, but I do have nearly 20 years of childcare experience, and personal experience with this issue. There’s something we need to talk about: parents who call their children their “friends.”
I get disturbed when parents call their kids, especially small kids, their “friends” and, particularly disturbing, “best friends.” Why is this a problem?
As an adult, think about the things you do with your friends. Maybe drink, go to dinner, go for a drive, go shopping, have coffee, watch R rated movies, have a game night. Can you drink alcohol or coffee with your kids? Can you watch R rated movies, shop, or play games uninterrupted?
Think about the things you discuss with your friends, especially your best friend. You might talk about sex, about your spouse, about work, about money problems, about that jerk that cut you off in traffic, about trying to get pregnant, about how hard it is to keep the house clean; you might even complain about your kids from time to time. Would say say any of that to your child?
Of course not, because your child is not your friend. Your child is a child. And you don’t go to them with your problems, they come to you with theirs. You are the parent, the adult, which means you are responsible for them and they get to have the freedom to be innocent and not manage adult burdens. Speaking to a kid about problems they can’t understand, let alone solve, only makes them feel helpless and powerless. They see you stressed and they want to fix it but they can’t, which leads to a feeling of being out-of-control and worthless.
I know the pain and damage that occurs when these boundaries are broken. When I was a child, my mom called me her “best friend.” She spoke to me about everything that was happening in her life: my father, her depression, her history of abuse, my sister’s issues, all of her problems. She confided in me and told me wonderful it was that I was so grown up and could handle so much. Taking on her burdens and being her equal left no room for me to have my own feelings, my own identity, or to have a childhood; I was too busy being an adult.
Don’t do this to your kids. They will have many friends throughout their lives, but they will only ever have two parents (if they’re lucky). Be their parent, because God has blessed you and no one else with that role and responsibility. And if you need friends, find some other adults. I promise you, we’re around.
Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the
land the LORD your God is giving you.