Naturally, you want the best for your child and to share as many fun-filled and wonderful times as you possibly can with them. Your relationship with your child is unique in that, as a parent, you have the responsibility to bring up your child up in a safe, yet healthy way while maintaining your loving bond.
It is entirely possible to be friends with your child and a great parent, however, never, ever at the expense of their well-being. For the first 18 years or so, of your child’s life, you are their guiding light, leader and role model. As such, it is important to step up and embrace this special privilege. Leadership and modelling will give your child the love and support they require to navigate the world around them.
- Set boundaries for your child around health and safety. Your relationship is not so much about being popular so much as maintaining the respect between you. Keeping your child healthy and safe is the number one priority, and sometimes that can mean being unpopular for usually a short period. While your child may not understand your decision initially, they will thank you one day, when they remember that you always had their best interest at heart. For example, a teenager acting out, wanting to go to a party with underage drinking, is often looking for you to say no. It can be a relief for them to know that you are in charge and will be the “bad” guy if necessary to ensure their safety.
- Be open and approachable with your child (rather than manipulative and controlling). Developing excellent listening skills is a wonderful way to enhance the bond between you. If they are struggling with certain issues, ask them what they think, they should do. Children can surprise you with their innate wisdom. If they are looking for guidance, they will ask for it, and this is a time to share your wisdom respectfully with them.
- Speak to your child in an empathetic and courteous tone. Any aggression or dominance often cause your child to feel defensive which can shut down open and honest communication. In confronting or challenging situations, It is still possible to be firm and fair. Your child will pick up on when you mean something and respect you for it.
- Unconditional love and acceptance will allow your child to thrive and flourish. If your child feels as though they are in an accepting and loving environment, they are more likely to see you as a friend, as well as a parent. Reassure your child that whatever boundaries you set or differences you may have, you always love them, just for being themselves.
- Establish a culture in your family where mistakes are learning opportunities for growth. Working out a way to get through any challenging situations together as a learning experience, strengthens your loving bond.
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