Parenting: Parent or Best Friend?

By: Jillian Curry

Childhood and adolescence is a time of great transition, growth, and development.  Every child needs a parental figure to help teach and guide them through this process.  While it is very important for parents to establish close bonds with their children, it is even more important for them to maintain their role as protector, as well as teacher.  Parents should serve as role models for their children, teaching them the difference between appropriate and inappropriate behaviors, while also being understanding and explanatory.

This balance lets children know that they are respected and understood, while also teaching them the difference between acceptable and unacceptable behavior.  On the contrary, a parent who is either strict and un-explanatory or overly permissive and friend-like may result in an anxious child who has little idea of right and wrong.  Permissive parents who act moreso like friends with their children also risk raising their child to develop low self-esteem, as the child’s excessive independence and lack of guidance leads them to experience increased failures and feelings of incompetence.

For these reasons, although it may seem like children would prefer their parents to be “cool” and more laid back like their friends, what they really want and need are loving and understanding parental figures who will guide and protect them as they learn about life’s challenges. (