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There is a common school of thought that believes parents are parents and friends are friends and never the twain shall meet.

We completely understand this point of view and we remain respectful of every opinion however on this point, and in our clinical experience, we disagree. It seems to be a left over view from generations past that remains present in some families and let us tell you why we disagree.

In this modern era of social media there are less true friends than we may have experienced in our childhood.

Every week I see teenage clients that have hundreds (or thousands) of friends on social media yet they remain lonely and isolated, the one comment that remains common to them all? “I wish I could talk to my parents about this”, and this is why we need to be able to switch between a parenting role and a friendship role.

For a start let’s take a look at the role of a friend, what does a friend do that is so important?

They listen without judgment, they support you, they make you feel better, they give you their time, they make you laugh and they keep your secrets.

Now let’s take a look at the role of the parent (traditionally): The parent guides, gives advice, shelters you, provides a safe haven and gives you safe place to return to when you need it.

This all sounds great right? Well yes it is, it’s important, it’s valuable and it’s completely necessary but sometimes what your children really need is for you to be quiet, just listen, don’t try and solve their problems unless they request help, just sit quietly and listen.

Become your child’s confident, help them to laugh and feel supported, don’t judge their stories or their feelings, if they confide in you and it’s too much to handle just tell them “I love you and I’m so glad you feel like you can talk to me, sometimes I don’t know exactly what to say so can I just take a moment to think about this and then we can talk some more?”

It’s OK to be shocked or afraid when your child confides in you and it’s OK to take a moment to digest their information, in fact it’s an important lesson for your child as they are in turn learning how an adult processes information and how to think before they speak.

Can you be a friend to your child when they need you?

Can you listen without judgment? Can you stay quiet and not offer advice unless asked? Can you love and support your child? Can you keep this information to yourself?

Then congratulations because you are exactly the kind of friend your child needs.

Do you feel you are a friend and a parent? Please share in the comments below we’d love to hear from you.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com
  • Nice read

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  • My mum has always been my best friend. She is the ultimate role model. I can only hope to be the same for my daughter too x

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  • A great article. It can be hard juggling act but ultimately we need to do what is best for our kids.

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  • Something all parents should aspire to.

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  • Sone so called professionals say you can’t be both friend and parent, you lose your authority if you try,and parents need to maintain control. I think I successfully achieved both, I like to think so anyway

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  • Great article. Thanks for sharing.

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  • yes it is possible listening is answer without comment! also asking right questions, so they trust you and you are also Mum as well ,fine line but can be done Love this an unscarry witch we all can be creating magic constantly Happy Halloween

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  • I absolutely love your articles. I have saved this one, as it has fantastic content. I particularly like the point you highlight about seeing teenagers with hundreds or thousands of friends on FB, yet they feel so alone and isolated. I often have to try and draw boundaries to distinguish the friend from the parent with my son.

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  • I want to raise my child to know that I am there for them anytime.

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  • i wish my mum was like that therefore i want to have this close relationship with my kid.

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  • I agree, parents should establish strong links with their children, be their friends forever in life.

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  • I feel so sorry for children who cannot talk to their parents about their problems. They must feel so lost and alone.

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  • I feel my husband and I are both friends and parents. My son usually takes one of us into his confidence, depending on what the issue is. I feel we have the mix right, and our son feels he can talk to us.


    • That is a wonderful, supportive arrangement



      • yes the balance can be hard to find. don’t want to drive them away but don’t want to let them walk all over you either.

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  • There are some moment that you have to choose to be parent or friend but it is so important to have the trust of your child. I make a point to thank my son for telling me about his day. No matter how trivial. I want him to know that I am there and listening.

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  • Thank you for sharing the tips.

    Reply

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