why you should not be your child’s friend

Man, I hate board games.

“Loathe” is also an accurate term. I’m not real sure where this disdain for board games comes from, but I find no enjoyment in them at all. I used to think the game “Sorry” was THE major tool Satan used to break up families. That game is just wrong.

There is now a new contender, “Settlers of Catan.” If you have not played this new game sensation, don’t. It’s “Sorry” for a new generation. “But Kenny, at least it’s not a video game.” Shooting zombies in a video game will cause less long lasting damage to the makeup of your child than “Catan” (sarcasm, kind of).

But in a somewhat ironic way, I also think that playing board games with your kids demonstrates a favorable direction in your parenting skills. You are taking the time to play with them and to teach them how to win, how to lose, and to play fair. In this arena, as a parent, I have failed miserably. I hate board games.

My wife, on the other hand, is always up for a round of “Catan” or “Sorry” or “Monopoly.” She is able to somehow keep foremost in her mind that it is just a game. She is also the only one in our family that is able to maintain that mindset.

One piece of advice

When I first decided that I wanted to share with the blogosphere some thoughts about parenting, I knew I needed to pick Kellie’s brain. She had somehow figured out some of the keys to being a parent. I mean she is really good at it. So I asked her this question: “If you had one piece of advice to offer parents of young children, what would it be?” Almost without hesitation she said “Be their parent and not their friend.”

For her answer to come so quickly, I knew this was something that she had spent some time thinking about.

My wife is an educator in the public school system. She meets with students and their parents on almost a weekly basis. One of the things that she has picked up on is that some parents are coddling their children to the point of damaging their development. They are trying to be their child’s friend and not their parent.

What does that parent look like?

So what does it look like when a parent is trying to be their child’s friend? It’s the parent who will take extraordinary measures to make sure their child is happy…all the time. They desire a pain-free, worry-free, burden-free life for their child. Which you could argue is a beautiful thing to want for your child, but it does NOTHING to prepare them for the journey ahead. There are exactly zero people on this planet that have ever experienced that kind of life. It is usually what the parent is trying to achieve for themselves as well–the easy way out.

Think about this, if you have focused on being their friend, how will your child relate to other adults? Will they expect those adults to meet their demands as well? How will they respond to their kindergarten teacher when a request for obedience is given? What about when that same teacher attempts to correct a behavior and your child does not know that as normal? Expect a phone call.

Instead a parent should be teaching their child respect, obedience, hard work and perseverance. You see, a parent–as opposed to a friend–is tough on their child. A parent sets a standard of behavior high and then never settles for less. A parent will only accept immediate obedience from their child. There is no negotiation. There is no attitude. There’s is no talking back. There is no way around this.

And the tougher you are on them while they are young, the greater the potential that you won’t have to be when they are older. I hope that you will believe me on this.

Having said all that, a parent isn’t always tough on their children. In fact, if you are creating a great normal for your kids, you’ll find that you will be laughing more than anything else. And we’ll talk about that soon.


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