Being a friend and parent is a blessing and honor. However, it requires a balance of the two. If you’re always your child’s friend without parental authority, you blur the parent/child relationship lines. On the other hand, if you’re concentrating on correcting without connecting, they’ll walk away.
Ephesians 6:4 says, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” This verse exemplifies how to parent with loving authority while being their friend. It inspires us to take our parenting role seriously while being conscious of our children’s spiritual and emotional well-being.
You can both be a friend and a parent, but there’s a God-given order that helps us properly balance the relationship. Here are some things to consider.
First, be a child.
Your children should see that you’re not only their parent but a child of God. As a believer of God, you’ve been accepted into God’s family and purpose to live according to His word. This idea is foundational to our children’s understanding of God’s lovely design.
Emphasizing our duty to God helps our kids see the appropriate order of things. Hopefully, it gives them a deeper insight into why we parent the way we do. The prophet Isaiah said, “Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay; you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.” This description is a perfect way to help your kids realize that we’re God’s children and accountable to Him. Hopefully, it encourages them to find a relationship with the Lord.
Second, be a parent.
After you’ve emphasized your accountability to God, it’s crucial to establish parental authority. This idea forms a healthy framework of respect and trust, so the friendship side of parenting can be built in the best possible way. Being a parent first means you set healthy boundaries, you’re honored and respected, and your decisions can be trusted.
Some parents are tempted to be their child’s friend first, but it can produce a dangerous pattern of disregarding healthy authority. Children may not take parents seriously, especially if you’re always buddy-buddy. It can lead to unfavorable consequences, especially during the teen years.
Being a parent first means you set the rules based on what you know is best for them. You avoid keeping the peace when you know you should address something, and you do the hard things that will lead them in the right direction, even if they don’t understand.
Third, be a friend.
Being your child’s friend is a blessing. Not only is this part of the child/parent relationship fun, but it’s a bond that’s hard to break. When children know they can share secrets with their parents as a friend, it creates a new layer of security and safety. They grow up knowing that someone will be there to cheer them on, have their back, and they can count on you if they need your help. Building a teamwork mindset with your children is valuable in more ways than one. It lets your children know you’re doing life together, figuring it out along the way, and ready to give grace when the other messes up.
As your children age, the relationship becomes more about camaraderie than parenting. This idea doesn’t mean that your parenting days are done, as your children will still seek your wisdom and experience, but you evolve into a friendship role that gives your children someone to lean on.
There’s a beautiful order to things that the Creator established. First, you’re His child, then a parent, and lastly, a friend. When we get this order right, the relationship with your children can prosper as intended. It’s an honor to be a parent and friend.
A prayer for children and parents.
Dear Lord, it’s a privilege to be a parent. Sometimes we take this special calling for granted, but we know it’s a blessing from Your hand. Lord, please help us be faithful in parenting, following Your commands as we raise our kids in Your way. Please show us the appropriate balance between being a friend and a parent. Please assist us with discerning when to do the hard things and setting healthy boundaries with our family. Let us not be harsh with our children, but lead us to parent in a calm, loving manner. God, help our children stay moldable like clay in Your hands so they can open their hearts to receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Help them realize that we are Your children first, and we’re parenting from a place of duty to You. We hope they long to be in a relationship with You and let us lead by example to that decision. Lord, bless every parent reading this and give them the wisdom to balance friendship and parenting. We look to You when we need advice on one of the most critical roles on Earth. In the name of Jesus, amen.
It’s possible to be a friend and a parent, but there should be a balance. You may push your child away if you’re too much of a parent. On the other hand, if you’re too much of a friend, it causes trouble with the parent-child dynamic. Your child may become too buddy-buddy with you and stop being you as an authoritative figure. Once you find the balance between parent and friend, the relationship will flourish.
Another key to balancing parenting and friendship is when your children are young, you’re more of an authoritative figure than a friend. However, it would be best if you understood that as your kids age, your parent role would evolve into a friend role. Once your children are grown, you can guide them and share your experiences, but you can’t tell them what to do anymore. Your kids may want to confide in you, and it would be best for the relationship if you keep those secrets between the two of you. Being a parent is a beautiful gift from God, but so is being a friend.