Our Goal through our “Positive Parenting” articles is to offer “Tips & Reminders” to help parents keep children on track; when necessary; provide assistance to help a struggling teen or young adult get back on track, and at times offer insights into the unique challenges of teens and youth adults.  “Positive Parenting Tips & Reminders” by Darrell, LCSW, Therapist, Eagle Ranch Academy

You Can’t Always be Both

Through my experience of working with struggling teenagers, I have found many similarities. One of the most common has been parents wanting to be their child’s “best friend.”

Parents, it is essential to build a friendship with your child but not to the point where your child being upset with you is not okay. Many parents I have worked with have openly admitted that they feel like a failure if their child is upset with them. Also, they would do just about anything to make their child happy. This is not healthy.

We as humans want things done our way, but that is not the world we live in. There are laws/rules that we must follow. Parents need to make it clear to their child the rules and consequences for breaking those rules. It should be made clear how parents expect their child to conduct themselves when not with their parents. A best friend will typically let little things slide if the rules are broken. Maybe even look the other way as though they saw nothing.

Creating Boundaries

As a parent, you cannot afford this luxury. If a child gets a hint of the possibility that they are not accountable for breaking a rule, they will always test the limits. A best friend will allow the limits pushed beyond a parent’s limits. It is only when things are out of control that the best friend tries to be a parent.

Usually, this is where the child becomes very defiant and angry with the parent, allowing the relationship to be one of a best friend rather than parent. The child typically becomes very disrespectful toward their parents. In their mind, you have always let them have their way, and now you expect them to follow the rules; typically, this is not going to work with most teenagers.

This is usually the stage when your teenager will begin to withdraw from the family, and it becomes easier for them to hold in any frustration, anger, and resentment they may be feeling. Once this cycle begins, the downward spiral starts, and the parent/child relationship deteriorates; and too often, the possibility of drug/alcohol use can come into play.  The teenager finds this to numb themselves to any pain or anger because turning to their parents, who act more like a supportive best friend, seems hopeless.

Would you instead hold firm to the rules you have in place and dish out the consequences if rules aren’t being followed with knowing your child may be upset? Or would you rather be their best friend and flake on holding them accountable when your rules are broken with no consequences? The answer is easy as the latter will cause more headaches than you just deciding to be a parent.

You Are the Expert on Your Child

Are you perfect?  No. 

Do you make mistakes?  Yes.

Can you learn something today that will help you be a more effective parent?  Absolutely! 

Hold them close, but don’t smother them. Love them, but don’t enable them.  And, keep it simple with the basic, but sound rules that you enforce consistently. Take care, and use “Positive Parenting!”