How to Raise a Best Friend Child
Well He Is More Than My Son
Why Would You Not Want to Be Best Fiends With Your Child?
There is this rather too common incorrect assumption about both best friends and a child. A child is not a little toy soldier and a best friend can still be the one giving out or receiving direction and orders. People seem to think being in command invalidates a friendship. And likewise that a friendship invalidates a command.
I was just going back through my life on this issue and overwhelmingly in relationships that I would call best friends, very seldom were they co-equal co-workers. I am not really clear on the why of that but I am clear that it is true. And likewise I have some friendships going on over 50 years where at one time or another we were either the boss or the subordinate. It is also true that coaching and being coached created long lasting friendships that endure. And for sure the teacher student scenario is like this for me.
Yet here we are in this modern age where there is still the notion that parents cannot be both strong parents and best friends with their children of any age. Out of the six children my mom raised I think she was pretty much best friends with 3. Although I would in no way be counted there, we were really good friends. Even at a young age I just got the feeling she liked hanging out with me and I certainly with her. But boy let me tell you she ruled with one hell of an iron fist.
From about 20 on, my father and I were definitely best friends. Miles and distance made it hard but once cell phones and online stuff happened, for his final three years we for sure communicated for several hours every week. And before that there were many many letters.
This is not one of my sermons but let me just suggest that if you think of a “Father in Heaven” and do not consider Him to be a best friend, you should really look into that idea.
Something I just thought about that I have to think about – Maybe for my adult children, maybe they should have other best friends. But from my perspective they just plain are my best friends.
So that will now take us around to a hypothetical 7.5 year old, who is not hypothetical at all and his name is Gabriel and he is my youngest child by many years.
Me and You!
A Face That Only A Child Could Love ;-)
May I Call You Friend?
So how does the all-powerful respect the lessor? And how can a mere subject respect the king? For make no mistake about it the core guiding principal in friendship is mutual respect. And of course the other essential ingredient as in so much of life is love. If I respect you and you respect me and we love each other it does not make for a friendship. Necessary yes, but without more it is not a friendship. Friendship requires a few more things. And the most important of these additions is not even trust. It is a pure joy in enjoying each other’s company. Common interests and/interests in common are good. And of course the aforementioned trust is really good.
Now I would really like some smart person to comment here and tell me why all these things cannot be present between a parent and their child. Do we dare start at the notion that fear is necessary? “My child respects me and follows my direction because he is afraid of me”? Maybe that is not that terrible of a thing. My best friends growing up mostly played the sports I played. And especially in football and wrestling there was a healthy fear between us. Maybe like in track and skiing it was just a fear of losing to the other. I tell you for sure in Basketball I was fearful of a few of my buddy’s elbows and in baseball getting hit by a high fastball caused fear. And of course Biblically fear of God is just accepted.
Here is a funny one with my Gabriel. And don’t you dare tell him about it. I am fearful of misdirecting him or causing him unnecessary emotional pain. Falling on your ass kind of pain I really do not care about for either of us.
So I think it good we have the above look at friendship and a bit about what it is. A note of possibly little consequence is that until I was 8 or so I was the youngest in the household. I mention 8 because that is about when Sophie died. Sophie was our dog who was even older than me. I was so far down the totem pole of family standing I even had to yield to Sophie. But including Sophie my brothers and sisters were way to the way my best friends. Even though they were charged with making sure I was safe as mom would kill them if they lead me astray they were my besties.
Thank You! Friend.
Hey If God Can Be Our Best Friend How Much More So Can Our Child Be Ours?
Make The Time
So that brings us to the actual raising of a child while being a best friend to that child. Look here, it is much easier with the less children you have. The time and devotion to the individual rather than a flock is just plain easier. I would reckon that it just takes a bit more work. Being a best friend means that you give of your time to the other. Being a parent means you give your time to the other. And quite literally I say to you that you cannot combine the time. It is different. Or is it?
Maybe with Gabriel we do some overlap. Reading for instance. We really enjoy reading together. There is so much out there to imagine and/or learn. Chess and one on one soccer are things that I suppose are part of a good parenting structure but we compete in them more for the fun. We really enjoy our rock collecting. I suppose good earth science stuff but we both really like it. I, to this day enjoy mathematics Gabriel likes to see if he can beat me. For sure that is just parenting and not being a friend, right?
Oops I better take back that line above that you cannot combine the two. Doing laundry can be kind of boring. Doing laundry together is social, goes quicker and maybe teaches something. So we are starting to share in chores. As I think of it, I would rather do a home project with one of my friends than go to a party.
Putting on the “ugly face and attitude” is unacceptable if it is done in order to get one’s way. We should never ever discount another’s feelings but we should not reward outward negative behavior. As a friend we need to be very honest with each other, sometimes somethings hurt. A friend does not shirk the responsibility to point out wrongs – the obligation is to spend the time to work things out once a wound has been opened, not to avoid the hurt. I cannot imagine telling my Gabriel to do something because I said so. That is so disrespectful and discounting. If I am too busy to explain my thoughts to my friend I am no friend. If I am too busy to explain my thoughts to my child I am no parent.
And as parents we say “but but but”. As friends we say “but but but”. Of course these are our excuses for not spending the time. It would seem that in the end being a friend and a parent really just takes more thought than being just one or the other.