Kim GregoryComment

Should you be your child’s PARENT or FRIEND?

Kim GregoryComment
Should you be your child’s PARENT or FRIEND?

Can you be one or the other — or should we strive to be both?

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Your teenager comes home late and won’t tell you where she’s been. Do you shout at her about the time and lay down the rules of your household? Or do you sit down and try and gently coax it out of her.

When it comes to parenting, it’s hard to know how to get things right.

Some parents swear by strict discipline, while others long to be their child’s friend… Is one way better than the other? 

Dr Rachel Andrew, clinical psychologist and co-author of The Supermum Myth, says it’s all about balance. 

She believes that we should think of parenting as a cake made up of many parts.

Dr Rachel says: ‘It’s important to include things like discipline, nurturing, love and being caring, but also to set boundaries. 

‘If you go too far one way or the other, it doesn’t always work. Some parents end up being so strict, their children are afraid to approach them. 

‘Others are too laid-back, so the child perceives that lack of authority as acceptance of everything they do.’

It also depends on how old your child is… 

‘When they’re very young, they need rules and boundaries — and for you to be with them all the time,’ says Dr Rachel. ‘But as they get older they need more freedom to be independent. 

‘If you are too authoritative, children will become very reliant upon you in terms of decision-making. They are also unlikely to come to you if they’ve done something wrong or got into trouble, because they will anticipate that you will be angry. 

‘Likewise, if there’s not enough structure or routine, the danger is that children can become involved in risk-taking activities and assume that you don’t mind what they do. 

‘The fact is that teenagers do need some boundaries to push against.’ 

Essentially, your parenting style should be age-dependent and  change with your child’s needs.

Dr Rachel says: ‘Often our parenting styles and decisions can actually be more about us as parents rather than our children — our worries about the type of parent we want to be and how society feels we should be. 

‘The aim is to be able to adapt your parenting style and try to be a parent and a friend who your child can come to when they need guidance — or need to confide in you.’

Edited by Julie Cook


‘My job is to be a mum, not a best mate’


My daughter Sophia, seven, is my only child and I love her to bits. But that doesn’t mean I’m her friend — far from it. 

I think my role is to be her parent and guide — someone who can teach her right from wrong.

I see lots of parents become friends with their children and I feel it means they lose respect, while the child can lose discipline and take advantage. 

A parent can be approachable, kind and open, but still keep that parent role. Being a mum or dad is hard, but then it’s supposed to be! Becoming a friend is the easier option.

From Kate Geary, 42, of Totton, Hants



‘Me and my boy are good friends’


When my son Charlie was younger, I was definitely more of a parent figure. But he’s 14 now and, as he’s got older, I’ve become more of a friend.

When children become teenagers, so many of them  feel afraid to confide in their parents because they are stern figures of authority. I didn’t want that.

Charlie tells me things I know other kids wouldn’t tell their own parents. 

We do fun things together, like going to the cinema and having a giggle. I want Charlie to know the door’s always open and he can tell me anything.

From Linda Greenwood, 45, of Middlesbrough, N Yorks