We were driving home from school, and we were both happy to see each other and expressed our love in different ways. I looked at her with a big smile-
Me – “My little buddy.”
She grinned from ear to ear.
Me – “I guess that makes your Dad your big buddy.”
Her – “That sounds funny when you say it like you’re talking about another person.”
Me – “You know, some people say that parents shouldn’t be friends with their kids.”
Her – “Why?”
Me – “They say that if you become friends then the child will lose respect for the parent as a leader.”
Her – “Well, we’re best buddies, and we don’t do that.”
Her comment that “we’re best buddies” melted my heart. Her innocent way of saying “we don’t do that” amused me.
Me – “In my case, it’s not that I want you to listen to me because “I’m the parent” as people say. It’s because, at this point, I sometimes know what is necessary for you to make your life work well and for our family life to work well. That’s the main reason.”
Of course, the subject is more nuanced than this discussion articulated, but I do feel we have a great balance.
Guess my parenting style is a combination of love/praise, playfulness, firmness around certain values and explaining potential consequences of her choices for her life as leverage.
There are times when I lead firmly or even sternly and don’t want a debate. Even then, though, I never use time outs, definitely don’t spank, and rarely use a “take away.” If I feel I was to firm in my tone of voice, I always apologize and tend to her spirit and our relationship as more important than the temporary issue.
Certain values are important to me and a thread through most challenges we have:
Being respectful of others and their things, bodies
Mustering the courage and will
Challenging yourself instead of just asking others to do it for you
Doing your part in a family environment
She does have respect for my leadership when I exercise it, and we are best buddies. Every single day I can, I invest in and nurture her spirit and our relationship and her quality of life. She came into this world happy, and it’s my duty to protect that happy spirit. Anyone I let around her has to have that mentality, too. She sees that, and I think that also engenders respect and trust in my leadership.
FInally, I think that when you realize that your child’s consciousness related to being loving and happy is higher than yours, you have to have a little humility as a parent. I respect and admire her, and she also feels that.
To those who say you can’t be buddies with your young, developing child, I beg to differ. So far so good here.