I am terrified. The day that I came home with my brand new baby swaddled tightly from the hospital I was terrified….and I think that it will get easier as my child grows older, but it doesn’t really get easier, it just gets more terrifying. Instead of worrying about our child suddenly forgetting how to breathe in the middle of the night, we are now afraid that our child will be bullied on the playground, choke on food, get kidnapped by the ice cream truck man, get left out of the lunch table crowd, dress too provocatively, or take drugs at a party to be cool and the list just goes on and on and on.
I was too recently reminded of a friend of mine and her families story. Because it is her story I won’t go into too much detail, but her daughters boyfriend attended a party where other kids had this new “cool” synthetic drug.. and he and died tragically because of its effects. I don’t know that boys specific families story or how involved they were in their child’s life, but it makes me terrified that my daughter will want to be cool, and do whatever it takes to be in the “in” crowd.
I wonder how we are supposed to raise our daughters in this world where we can photoshop women’s bodies into unrealistic shapes, while having girls in their twenties make naked music videos while swinging on a giant ball, and having myriad synthetic drugs circulating at high school parties. I used to be terrified of normal things, but now I’m terrified of the friends she might make.
I know i”m jumping into the future… but as history is teaching me, the future is not so far off.
I know I’m about to commit parental sin here, and go against the grain with my opinion and all, but I wanted to explore a new angle in parenting…Everybody knows the old, “I’m not your friend, I’m your parent” slogan… To be really honest, that phrase has always really bothered me to the core for some reason. To me, you’re basically saying to your kid that a friend will let you do whatever you want… that a friend doesn’t have your best interests at heart, and has a selfish agenda of their own… and that a parents suck all of the “fun” out of life.
Now please do not mistake what I am trying to say here… a parent that lets their child do whatever they want because they are too tired to deal with poor behavior or wants to gain favor with their child is not what I am getting at. I am not giving parents carte blanche to give up at being a parent, but rather to encourage them to be a parent AND a friend. Most importantly to model what friendship behavior is all about.The last thing you want is rules that aren’t enforced, boundaries that are broken, and kids that are running wild right? But to continually tell our sons and and daughters, “I’m not your friend, i’m your parent” sends a broken message.
If we continuously teach our kids that you’re “Not their friend” (at least not between the ages of 5-18 then what are we saying about friendships in general?
According to Websters, a Friend is:
: a person who you like and enjoy being with
: a person who helps or supports someone or something
A parent is:
: one that begets or brings forth offspring
: a person who brings up and cares for another
Surely I fit both definitions, so by definition I AM my daughters friend too am I not? It is my absolute goal to teach my very impressionable daughter that friends do not simply let each other do what is popular, but rather a friend is someone to confine in… someone to hold you up when your world is falling apart, and someone to keep you accountable. Proverbs 24:26 says, ” An honest answer is like a kiss of friendship.” I challenge us to all to teach our daughters what real friend are…
I’m sure many of you have heard this quote before, and most people view that this is what friends are about….
Proverbs, so full of wisdom teaches in verses 27:17, ” As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.”, and Proverbs 18:24 says, ” There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.” I think the psalmist David says this so perfectly. There are “friends” who destroy each other, and who don’t ultimately care about your eternal happiness. They want to live in the moment. Be popular… be cool…. sit in jail with you… but real friends stick closer than a brother. They look out for you. Look out for your best interests. A real friend stands up for what is right, and the path that you should go down. Real friends sharpen each other and warn you of dangerous waters… help you get out of sticky situations, and lead you towards your ideals… not away from them.
My point is – a friend is someone to hold each other up. A companion in life. I do not want to teach my child that her friends can lead her down a path that is away from how I’ve brought her up… but instead to find friends that will support her upbringing. I want to teach my daughter that friends are not the ones who lead you away from your morals, and ideals but that they support you and your best interests. That friendship (especially between women) is not ultimately about competition, but parallel lives… that we should be standing up for one another, and supporting one another.
I know many people will say, “haha good luck with this”, but really… I encourage you to look deep about what we are teaching our children about friendship. As mothers, aren’t we the ones who are to model female behavior to our daughters? Let us stand up and show our daughters what female friendship is all about. That it is about being strong in our faith, and our ideals, even if it isn’t always popular. Standing up for what you believe in, and not giving a damn about what other people think of you. Because the only opinion that is worth anything… is that of our heavenly father.
My daughter is young, and I am offering my opinion blind… as I do not have a tween or a teen going through the emotional baggage of that timeline in our lives, but I strongly feel that we as parents are their early role model. In many cases, like it or not, we ARE their friend… so why do we have to officially wait until our children are in their twenties and thirties to be “their friend” and model good friendship behavior… Lets be their parent and their friend now… while it matters most.