• Lee

Parents or Friends?

Updated: Mar 1

Welcome to the second episode of the parenthood series and today we will be shedding more light on how to be a parent and a friend to your child without blurring the lines.

Being a parent comes with many expected and unexpected changes that can be hard to deal with. We all have heard of how kids change in their teens. They like to be on their own a bit more, they share little, experience secondary characteristics of their gender (puberty) and they begin to feel attraction towards others. This is something that all kids experience not just kids in America or European countries. Yet, parents in America and European countries in hopes of being friends with their children instead of parents have caused their kids to have a level of power that makes the parents helpless.

As a Ghana-born child and living with both parents who are from Ghana, it comes as a shock to me as to how kids in these parts of the world can tell their parents to “shut up” or use derogatory terms like “bitch”, “stupid”, “useless” and some even go to the extent of laying hands on their parents. I can imagine how hard it is for parents to deal with such after taking care of those same children for years. It is not an easy thing to keep your child on track anywhere around the world because of the influences that are surrounding them. However, one sure thing to do is to bolden the lines between friendship and parenthood at an early age as that will shape them. Being a friend to your kids is not as important as being a responsible parent to them. Many people have focused solely on being friends that their children see them as equals as it almost hardly ends well. Here are some ways to bolden the blurred lines that some parents are dealing with.

The first and most important thing you must make clear is that you are the parent and whatever you say goes. If there is something you must not struggle to earn as a parent, it is authority. Let your child know that they are under you and no matter what they say, you make the final decision. Children cannot provide for themselves. They do not even know where to start or how to go about life so it is important to let them know that they are dependents and do not have the right to make final decisions but can freely make suggestions in a very respectful manner.

The second thing is to make them aware that they are not more special than any other family member so no special treatment for them and they cannot disrespect others. When parents focus on being friends with their children too much, the kids begin to think they are more special than others and can escape punishment. Let them know that is not allowed. Courtesy, respect, and kindness are expected of everyone no matter the age. Once the rules are broken, there should be consequences that will remind the child that you are in charge as the parent. If a 10-year-old breaks a vase after being told to stop running around, they have to clean it up and work around the house to make up for the cost of the vase. This may seem harsh to some people, but it is this training that will keep them on their toes and will avoid them viewing you as a weakling.

One more thing I would say is very important is to distinguish clearly the difference between a privilege and a right. Children have the right to education, healthcare, protection, life, a safe environment and to be heard. That’s it! Most of the other things like having iPods, iPhones, video games, sleepovers, and money are privileges given by parents and they can be easily taken away. This will make them aware of who makes decisions. Anytime you as a parent take any of these privileges away, it will serve as a negative reinforcer so that they do not repeat the same action.

These steps will help you as a parent make your role very evident to your child so that they do not think you both are equals. If you happen to have a teenager with who you focused on being friends instead of a parent, sit them down and make your role clear to them, what is expected of them, and the consequences of the actions they will take. Since you have been solely their friend for all these years it will cause them to withdraw a bit from you and yes it will be uncomfortable, but it is needed. After they process everything, they will be much better and treat you with the respect needed. Again, it is not an easy process or journey, but you have to start somewhere in order to provide the best future for your child.

Let us know what you think about this.

Always remember, it’s just you and us.

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