You’ve undoubtedly seen the memes that circle around social media. “I’m your parent not your friend” they say, and thousands of parents give their approving thumbs up. It’s also become a popular hashtag. Another thing I’ve seen around the web are people saying things like, “When my child says he hates me, I know I’m doing my job as a parent.”
I can understand these sentiments and don’t entirely disagree. I am not my kid’s third grade recess buddy. Certainly my role as a mother requires a bit more than saving him a seat beside me at the table.
And as much as it pains me to admit it, I too have been on the receiving end of one or two I hate you tirades from my precious offspring, and yes, it was because I held a limit he didn’t like, which is, in fact, doing my “job” as a parent.
Still, the undercurrent of these statements is polarizing and even dangerous.
These “I’m not your friend” and “you’re supposed to hate me” statements normalize a giant gap in the parent-child relationship, foster a “me against you” mentality and completely disregard the crucial attachment bond that gives us real influence.
When we view parenting through the “I’m not your friend” lens, I’m afraid we lose sight of the value of connection. Listen, I know that “soft parenting” has been shamed to death in our culture. We don’t want to look like the ones raising those disrespectful kids we hear so much about, so we harden. We tout ourselves as “tough” parents and get praised for it. Praise feels good. It’s validating. In a world that is constantly telling us how we are screwing up as parents, what little praise we can gather feels like oxygen…