It's encouraging to be friends with our kids, but there are times for parenthood, too.

Negative Effects of Being a Friend Instead of a Parent

by Stephen Maughan

It is normal to want to feel close and friendly with your children, but your child needs to respect you as a parent and not just as a buddy. Sometimes, that can be hard because many of us want to please our children and see them happy, but giving them what they want all the time will not make them happy in the long run.

Consider Their Future

You want the best future for your child, so it's important to teach them morals. According to educational consultant and writer Bill Rogers, children need to learn the rules, morals and expectations of society to succeed in life. So, a relaxed parent who tells her child not to bother about doing homework might earn a few brownie points in the moment, but if the child fails at school they might end up blaming you for not pushing them toward academic excellence.

Goals of Parenting

Harvard professor and author Robert LeVine spent years studying family cultures around the world, and in 1974 came up with three goals of parenting: child survival, to learn the values of his culture and to become economically independent. This means it's our job to care for our children, to give them food and comfort, to tell them about what is acceptable and not in our society, and to teach them skills so they can live independently and be well-adjusted adults. If we don't do those things, many sociologists and psychologists say, we have failed our children.

Not An Equal friendship

You cannot have an equal partnership and friendship with your child because it is up to you to make important decisions in life, and it is unrealistic to expect a small child to have the life experience or knowledge to do so. If you tell your child your problems in life in the way you might do with your friends, it can cause confusion and anxiety for a child. If you say, "Oh, I just don't know how we are going to pay the rent this month," your child might become unduly upset and worried.

Be Yourself

You might have had a rough childhood or be determined not to bring up your children the same way as your parents did, but you can still be an effective parent by being yourself and teaching morals and ethics, according to psychologist and author G.C. Davenport. Be your own person, and remember that your child needs instruction and guidance. If he isn't getting it from you, he'll look elsewhere.


  • An Introduction to Development Psychology; G.C. Davenport
  • The Language of Discipline; Bill Rogers

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