Yes, My Kids Are My Friends

You are his parent; not his friend.

Kids need their parents to be parents…not friends.

She clearly needs a parent…not a mom/dad who tries to be her friend.

I hear those statements pretty regularly in our society and, quite frankly, they bewilder me.

My kids are definitely my friends. We spend time together. We make each other laugh. We do crazy and spontaneous things that produce marvelous memories. We share good times and sad times. Sometimes we drive each other crazy, but – in reality – we never tire of each other.

Yes. Indeed. These two girls of mine are my friends. Aside from Tim, actually, you might even say that they are my best friends.

Does that mean that I am not a parent – that I fail to protect, guide, instruct, and teach my children? Not at all! I strive to do all of those things, using my age and experience to help them understand the world around them – to show them through modeling + conversation how to love God and love others.

But I refuse to live under the faulty presumption that I must EITHER be a parent or a friend to my children. I choose to be both. Now – and in the future.

After all, I won’t always be the only adult around here. One day, I will be 40 and they will be teenagers. I will be 50 and they will be having kids and careers. Etc. When those milestones come, I want to still be friends. Sharing cares and triumphs. Being taught by each other.

That kind of relationship doesn’t just “happen.” It starts today…right now…in the every day ways we relate to each other.


  1. says

    Amen! I especially like your last line! If we want to have a long lasting relationship with our children, we need to start having that relationship now with them! Thanks Steph!!

  2. says

    I agree! I believe this is why my mom and I are best friends. She always made it easy to come to her about anything. And most of all, she respects me. Thanks for a great post!

  3. kristen says

    I love being friends with my parents… and they are still my parents. I guess I can’t say that I always was (there were those “times” in high school…), but it’s wonderful to be able to call my mom and chat for hours about everything and nothing and all that is in between. I am grateful.

  4. says

    At my baby shower, my mom filled out the “advice” card with the words: “be your child’s parent first, and their friendship will follow”. I think I like that advice better than the common “be their parent, not their friend”. Some parents try so hard to be friends with their kids, that they don’t ever teach them right from wrong, more worried about their kids ‘liking’ them then about teaching and protecting them. My mom and I agree with your views and feel that if you guide, teach, and discipline your children but also show them you are there for them and respect them, friendship will be there and it will be stronger than the friendship that may exist between parents and children whom don’t have the parent/child relationship.

  5. Jen C. says

    I completely agree!! I am friends with my parents still and I have always had a great relationship with them. I want to have the same relationship with my kids. I want them to know that they can always come talk to me about anything and I’ll listen as their friend and help them figure things out.

  6. Christine Jensen says

    I echo what Cameron said! We need to be both parent and friend. Children need the discipline of a parent and the friendship of a loving parent who will always be there for them. I think of our Heavenly Father when I think of the kind of parent we should be, loving and caring, yet willing to chastise us so we can become the child of God that he sees in us.

  7. Love Letters To Jesus says

    I agree that you can be both. I think it’s much harder to achieve this goal, but it certainly isn’t impossible. And it’s a goal we both share in our parenting journey’s.


  8. says

    THANK YOU! I have always felt like my girls were my friends. I mean, my goodness! I spend 24/7 with them, play all day with them, laugh with them. Why can’t I call that being their friend. Do they still know who is in charge? Absolutely! I 100% agree with this.

  9. says

    I guess it depends on what your definition of “friend” is. If it excludes the possibility that one cannot be a friend and a parent at the same time then no, a parent cannot be a friend (and vice versa).

    Now that being said…I don’t necessarily agree that what a “parent” feels and does for their children (and all that implies in regards to loving, nurturing, having fun with, sharing memories and experiences with) constitutes what I would define as friendship. Similarly, I think those who subscribe to the “parents cannot be friends” philosophy believe the same. Putting myself at risk of being the only nay sayer here, there are just some things I would do/say/participate in with (what I define as) true “friends” that I would never do with my children. So to be true to my own definition of friendship…my children would not in fact be considered “friends” *breathe*. As well, I find too many parents (those who I would define as having poor parenting skills…sorry I am judgemental sometimes) try too hard to be friends and spend little time actually parenting (now come on, you’ve met those parents so do I really have to expound on that?). Perhaps that situation is where the saying comes from that you refer to. So I guess what I am trying to say is it DEPENDS.

    For myself…I LOVE my 4 boys. I love seeing them grow and having wonderful experiences with them. I am their mom. I would do anything for them. ANYTHING. But at this stage of their lives, they aren’t my friends…they are my children. And that being the case, I have responsibilities to them and for them beyond any sort of friendship I could ever fathom. Ask me again when they are grown and have families of their own.


  10. says

    The friendship relationship truly does start now – I think it’s as much a mindset as anything. My dad and I are the best of friends – he is and will always be my dad too – but I’m so glad he is also a friend and the relationship did start when I was little. It’s the same thing I’m trying to develop with my children. I like what Cameron said above – be the parent and the friendship will follow. It’s only natural.

    I think the friendship follows in giving our kids the same kind of respect and consideration we give our friends. All that parenting stuff is all-important – providing for them, teaching them, discipline, etc… but the respect – keeping their secrets, listening to their thoughts, helping them reach for their dreams – that is where the friendship develops and builds.

  11. says

    My mom is the perfect example of what you just described.
    As I was growing up we were friends (especially the teenage years, if you can believe that!), but she knew when it was time to be the parent too. Most people would say my mom was strict; I even had a curfew until the day I got married (at 22 years old!) because it was her house, her rules. However, I also was the kid who caused little to no concern. I didn’t get into trouble, didn’t “experiment”, none of that, and I feel it’s because I had an involved parent who chose to be a friend AND a parent to me. Aside from my husband, my mom is still my very best friend.
    I pray I can be that to my kids too! After all, isn’t God a friend AND a parent to us??? =)

  12. Nancy S. says

    I’ve noticed a huge transition to friend with my adult sons. It’s nice to kinda let go of the parenting job a bit and let the friendship take over!

  13. Katelyn says

    I think you can be “friendly” with your minor child, but that’s different from being a “friend.” This doesn’t mean you don’t enjoy the time spent with your children and look forwards to doing things with them. I think a respectful and friendly parent child relationship can evolve into friendship as that child becomes an adult.

    To me, the dynamic/relationship between friends is inherently equal. I don’t believe a real friendship with a child is possible until a parent no longer holds authority over their child. Now, adult child and parent, yes. I am friends with my mother. I actively seek out her company and enjoy the time I spend with her.

    I will agree with other previous posters and say that some parents seem to want to be “friends” with their children instead of being parents. This often seems to lead to that parent enabling the poor behavior/habits of their still minor child.

  14. says

    Funny that you posted this. Just today my 2 year old said “mommy, I be your best friend.” How I only hope he will think of me as one of his best friends for years to come!

  15. says

    I think you can definitely be both! You worded this so well, I want to send your post to everyone who ever said those cliche lines of “you can’t be their friend” to me :)

  16. Erica says

    I mostly agree. I would say that the friendship is beginning, but the parent part is currently dominant. There are times when I have to do things more “parent-y” and less “friend-y” right now in order to teach them and grow them, but it’s not like there’s no friendship whatsoever. My hope is that the friendship becomes more dominant as I have to do less parenting when they grow up. It’s that way with my parents now, and I love it. But when I was a teenager, as much as I loved them and even liked hanging out with them, I still wouldn’t have put them in my “friends” list; and I think that’s okay. I suppose it’s a slightly different definition of friendship, but still important and still there.

  17. says

    Ok I am glad you feel this way too. I hear these things and then feel guilty if my girls in public say Mom You are my BEST Friend. I mean…don’t they all say you shouldn’t be their friend. I guess trusting yourself as a parent it what it comes back too and me being their best friend I trust is very very important.

  18. says

    I have to side with Kris on this one. Maybe because my kids are older and the dynamics aren’t quite the same???

    While I love my kids, I wouldn’t consider them my friends. I have different criteria for a friendship and it does not include nurturing, guiding, or discipline.

    I LOVE spending time with my children, more so now that they are getting older. I love having conversations with them and hearing their unique perspectives and watching them blossom into lovely little people. I love vacationing with them and working side-by-side with them in the kitchen. I love watching the wheels in their heads spin as they work through problems on their own and I love it even more when I can celebrate a success with them on the other side.

    All that said, I would stop short of saying that we’re friends. And I’m okay with that. There are certain boundaries that I have with my kids and that I also have with my parents. It’s weird maybe, but I just think there should be a degree of reverence (for lack of a better word) in a parent/child relationship. That’s not to say that I want walls or secrecy, but I’m not comfortable with my kids considering me a friend. A trusted, loving, gentle mom who will always be on their side? Yes. A friend? No. There’s a difference…in my opinion at least.

  19. says

    Lily is totally my best friend (along with my hubby). I love every minute with her. Your girls are very lucky to have you and you to have them.

  20. says

    I have only ever heard this phrase regarding much older kids, in a “you cannot be the cool friend-mom all the time, you have to make the rules because your teenagers will think they are smarter than you are but they are wrong” kind of way. I think you can and should be best buddies as long as you are the MOM first.

  21. says

    Thank you… so much for writing this.

    I too have been confused over the years by the statement. I have 6 kids, and I am friends will all of them.

    Yes, I have to be the disciplinarian… but they are my best friends. My son lies next to me some nights when we are watching a show (he is 15 and over 6 feet tall). My oldest daughter and I joke around and shop together.

    I love having friends that are my kids. I get to say.. “We’ve been friends your whole life”….

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