This is a question that I often here in many circles. I often see on social media sites these famous lines, “my daughter/son is my best friend” or “my son/daughter is my homie”. In all honesty, I tried to figure out this complex idea that have many bamboozled.
When I was growing up, it was no such thing as me being a friend. I was the son and I better know my place or else. Growing up, I saw my mother and father as a disciplinarian that didn’t play games. Of course , we had fun but I never crossed that line of thinking we were friends. Friends for that matter were people who confided in each other, had each other back, supported each other, did things for each other, etc (Don’t take this the wrong way). I looked at them with respect but I knew that if I got out of line there was going to be a price to pay. Now, this made it difficult for me to talk them about issues that I had growing up. Why? Because it was a fear of getting in trouble. Sometimes you wanted advice but didn’t know how they were going to take it.
Fast forward some years, I have the privilege of having a 16 year old son that I truly love. The story about him and I is a story that you wouldn’t believe! I will leave that story for another time. As my son grew in age, I began to treat him more and more like a friend. I figured that’s what I wanted because I wanted that when I was younger. The problem that I began to have with him was that he couldn’t separate the two. I would try and play games with him, go out to different events together, and do friend activities. Consequently, when he received his grades from school, I had to be the parent. I would ask him what happened. His response would be the shoulder shrug. I couldn’t stand it! In his mind regardless of what we did together, I was still his daddy.
I learned that in order for me to have an effective relationship with my son, I had to learn to BALANCE. This means that I was firm but fair, cautious but caring, rigid but respectful . This allowed him to not just see the father in me but the “friend” in me. This allows him to open up to me when he is in a crisis. Also,this is where GRACE comes in. I often discipline my son like God does me. There are times when I’m upset at him for the things he might have done and I’m ready to go on a warpath. Suddenly, my mind quickly think of things I’ve done and how I let my heavenly father down but He never gave up on me. Even spiritually there is a balance! John 15:15 (NIV) tells us, “I no longer call you servants because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you FRIENDS, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you”. This is amazing to know because not only can I call Him my Father, Jesus is also my Friend.
My challenge to you is to not just be your child’s friend but also their parent. In this day and age, we have to master the parent part because our children need their PARENTS like never before.
Just some thoughts…..