"Don't try to be your child's friend," all the parenting books advise. "You are their PARENT."
So why does it feel rotten when a child "unfriends" you from Facebook, which seems to happen in my life all too often--like every time I express an opinion to a child - or even hint at gentle criticism.
As a parent of three - my youngest being 17 - I have long recognized that I may not always make decisions that make my children happy. I acknowledge that I am far from perfect. Lord knows, I have made mistakes and I have my own personal foibles and stubborn desires. And one of those stubborn desires is to raise my three children to be responsible, mature, and considerate human beings. That means I have to sometimes set parameters, enforce rules, review the value system that has been integral in our lives - and let them know when I don't agree with some of their personal choices.
"I wish we could be like Amber and her mom," my daughter sighed. "They sit in her mom's bedroom and talk every night-- about their lives and their innermost thoughts. They are so close."
"I would love if we could be like that," I told her. "Why don't we try?"
"Because you don't love me," was the quick response. "You don't accept everything I do. You disapprove of some of the choices I make, and refuse to support me when I do things you disapprove of. You don't like all my friends and you are always judging me with your antiquated value system."
In other words...I am not being a very good "friend" to my daughter. I am being a parent.
So today when I woke up to find myself written off her "Friends" list yet again, I was not surprised - but disappointed. And I got to wondering how other parents manage to stay on their children's (and even MY daughter's list). I'd love some input here.
For all those parents who manage to stay "Friends" with their kids, please tell me:
- If you see your child "hanging" with friends who are engaging in questionable activities, do you just look the other way?
- If you notice your child doing something that goes against your values--and is the antithesis of everything you have ever taught him, do you just take it on the chin and move on?
- If you find compromising photos of your child on Facebook - or photos that clearly prove that he or she is breaking your House rules, do you stay a "Friend" and pretend you didn't see it?
Because I would love for my child to think of us as having that perfect "friendship" like Amber and her mom. But somehow "Friends" don't let friends drive drunk, but parents take away the car keys.