Updated: Apr 30, 2019
This post is not regarding"friends who have children." Those are probably good people in your life. Friends of yours that have children of their own. Possibly children near the same age as your own. That would be a different subject entirely. An overwhelmingly positive post.
This post is regarding people who want to be "friends with children." As in their still-living-in-their-house children.
Do you know people like this? People who want their children to be their friend?
What I can't figure out is.... why?
Why do you want these tiny, hormonal tyrants to be your friends? Do you not have enough friends? Any friends? Even one friend? A person in your life that you don't have to discipline or supervise?
If you're over the age of 21 (pleeeeease be over the age of 21 if you're reading anything here. This blog should come with a bouncer who cards readers. "May I see your license please? ...19? Nope, sorry - you won't understand her logic. Head on over to www.youngdumbandbroke - that'll be more your style.") don't you want a friend you can have a glass of wine with when the occasion calls for it?
(Or a spiked lemonade, or a glass of Sangria or shot of Apple Pucker or... you get the point, right?)
Listen, I've long said that I like my kids. And that's kind of major because kids are weeeeeeird. All kids. Mine included.
Also its kind of major because I know a lot of people that don't like their kids. I know parents who start a back-to-school countdown on the first day of summer vacation AND they send their kids to summer camp for a month in there.
But I like mine. When they're not being little jackasses they're funny and they yell at each other for chewing loud before I ever have to do it. That's kind of nice, in my book.
Are they friends of mine?
Friends are the people you go to when you don't know what to do with your kid.
Me: I can't take this kid. He's on this tangent about needing a cell phone. Like he's the only 10-year old in the whole world without a phone. I'm seriously considering adoption at this point.
Friend: Adoption is a lengthy process. Try Craigslist.
That? That is the response of a friend. A fellow adult who understands your frustration.
The confusing part here is that, as full-grown adults, many of us are (now!) friends with our parents. So there seems to be a confusing, fuzzy line that some adults like to walk upon where they try to forge into that friendship category with their own offspring well before its time to do so.
And there is a time to do so.
That time is not while they're still living rent-free under your roof and eating the food from your pantry and wearing the school clothes you buy them in August. No that is still firmly in the no-friend period.
Now you may be wondering - why do you have a problem with this Jess? If you don't want to be friends with your kids - then don't, but leave everyone else to their own choices.
The problem, Oh Thoughtful One, is that kids who think their parents are their friends when they're still growing up are not learning anything about friendship but everything about how to be manipulative and controlling.
Which, when you land in the real world and try to make real friends, turns out not so great for a few people.
Example dialogue of parent/child relationship:
Parent: Okay kid you have a test tomorrow - survey says - time for you to go to bed.
Child: Do I have to? I'm not tired.
Parent: Ooooh, sorry, survey did not say bedtime was open for negotiation, it said bed time. Now go. Hup to it. Chop chop. You'll thank me tomorrow when you're well-rested.
Child: No I won't. I'll be annoyed at you because all my friends are still playing on this game and they'll make fun of me for going to bed early like a baby.
Parent: That's a risk I'm willing to take. Thanks for your input. Tell your friends "goodnight." Now off to bed or tomorrows bedtime gets moved back another 20 minutes.
Child: 20 minutes?!?!
Child: Okay, I'm going, I'm going.
Example dialogue of parent/I-want-my-child-to-like-me relationship:
Parent: Honey, now that this show is over, why don't you head to bed? You have school tomorrow.
Child: Do I have to? I'm not tired.
Parent: You're not? How can you not be tired? I'm exhausted.
Child: I'm not. I'm not even a little tired.
Parent: Well, if you're not tired then, I guess you can stay up a little longer. How does ten o'clock sound?
Child: Maggie in my class gets to stay up until 10:30 - why can't I?
Parent: 10:30 on a school night??
Child: Mmmm-hmmmm. AND she gets to stay up til midnight on Saturdays. Her parents are so cool.
Parent: Well, okay then. 10:30 but not later than that. You need your rest to grow big and strong and be a superstar someday.
Child: Thank you Mommy, you're the best. Maggie's parents aren't the only cool parents in school!
Parent: puffs out chest proudly. That's right Maggie's parents - I'm cool too.
Somewhere across town Maggie's parents are sleeping soundly because Maggie and her brother are in bed, snug as bugs. And Let's-be-Friends Mama up here - she just got played. Also, her child learned the art of name dropping and complimenting.
Oh joy. Life skills at the age of nine.
Fellow mamas - I'm all about you liking your kids. They're the walking, talking product of your parenting. So its great if you think that, as far as kids go, you got some pretty good ones.
But as their role model, their supporter, their number one fan, their personal shopper - you need to play the equally important roles of rule-maker, bedtime setter, privilege giver and household enforcer. This is the only way they will learn.
They will learn, when you rip the Xbox cord out of the wall and haul the sucker to the garage that the D in physics because they bombed the test is a big deal to you. They will learn, once that Xbox is gone, that it was a big deal to them too. They will also learn that without the Xbox to play, they may as well go study for physics since their teacher gives them a chance to correct for half credit. And they will learn, when they bring the grade up and you return the Xbox, that you mean business but you also are pretty smart when it comes to knowing how they should spend their time.
So much high quality learning going on. How can you pass up that kind of parent/child bonding?
Hey, its not all sunshine and roses. But in 25 years when they have a 15-year old of their own and they call you up frustrated to pieces you can soundly say to them, as their friend, "remember that time I unplugged your Xbox and hauled it to the garage...."
Good times. Good times.