As a mother of 5, I grapple with the right way to bring up my five very different children. Do we treat them as friends? Should we be lenient or fierce? Someone asked me if I punish my child for not playing the piano?(the answer is sometimes)
It is dangerous to treat your teenagers as friends. Having raised 3 teenagers by now, they are already in their late teens and teenage is almost over. I can reflect and say that fortunately, my kids did not give me teenage heartaches except for very small, transitional ones.
3 years on, among my children, there is nobody officially a child: just three teenagers and two adults and we live in three different accommodations, two different continents. I suspect, in two more years, we will be in four continents. Time does funny tricks.
It is dangerous treating them as friends because they are not your friends, they are our responsibilities and they need to know we set the rules and are the authorities, and that cannot be compromised. However, my kids know that they can always come to me for anything and I will listen and work out any issue with them. Even if the whole world is against them, they know I will be by (though I may not be on) their side, without deviation.
Being a good listener and being there for the kids are important, so is assuring them you have gone through more than them and therefore will know certain circumstances, certain issues better than them and their friends.
I am not sure if I sound really harsh, but if I do, then perhaps I have overly emphasized the importance of being a parent and not a friend, for a good reason.
Over the last 20 years, I have seen how my children have changed from taking everything I say as the ultimate truth, to challenging what I say and peer-influenced, back to realizing what I say make sense afterall, one full cycle. Those teenage years were not difficult because when they challenged me, I would hear them out completely but always told them my decision was final, sometimes to their dismal, but they got used to realizing who the authorities in the house are.
My kids are now big, my girls will still share their boy friend fancies with me, their crazy fashion sense (they buy my clothes), their secret admirers and admirees and most of all, they will listen to me for hours sharing my tips of life.
I think, if we want to have them as friends when we grow old and they have become adults, we must first support them as adults and responsible parents and not just another friend.
Just my honest opinion, and experience from an ‘older’ mother. So listen and do not judge, but be firm. Now, I tell them they can bring their children in a few years and I will find a way to look after each of my grandchildren, while they build their careers.
Hm… those childcare scares are getting into me… again. I want my children to now focus on building their families and careers as they prepare for their twenties and careers not worry about such things.