This is a topic that is so relevant today as we see an increase in parents attempting to shield their children from reality in an effort to protect them. Is this harmful or helpful?… Does it create stability or does this set up our children up for greater struggles?
Approximately 3 years ago a study revealed that 54% of Millennial parents considered their child to be “one of my best friends.” This is alarming as a professional in the mental health field. The impact this has had on children, families, and society is alarming. As a result of this mentality, children often see their parent as their “buddy” and not an authority figure.
As my two children were younger, they knew I was NOT their friend, their pal, their buddy … I was their parent. Now that my oldest is 30 years old, I can say she is my friend; however, that was not my role during her childhood.
As a parent, I had many roles. The most important from my standpoint was to raise up my children to be God-fearing adults first and foremost because the Bible says “raise up a child in the ways of the Lord and when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Prov 22:6) Additionally, my goal was to help instill good values, be empathic to others and preparing them for adulthood, just to name a few.
Too many times BFF parents, in an article written by Dr. Joshua Straub. Parents are afraid to say “no” to their children. Or they will not follow healthy boundaries set up by the parents out of a fear they will negatively affect the children’s personality or individualism. Or is it a fear-based out of losing the perceived love, affection and acceptance of the child? No matter the cause, the fact is they are teaching the children that they are the center of the universe and the world revolves around them. Can anyone see where this type of belief system may impact a child when they enter into adulthood or workplace? Go to work tomorrow and tell your boss your schedule doesn’t fit your tee time or nail appointments… Teaching your children they’re the center can potentially cause them to not develop empathy for others. Empathy is a critical skill needed in dealing with people.
I’ve seen many posts on social media. Some say “if you don’t teach your children respect, the legal system will!” There is truth in this statement. Before people get up in arms and start arguing on social media, I’m not saying the legal system is responsible for dealing with every disrespectful child/adult. What I am saying is that if we as parents do not set rules, guidelines, and boundaries then we are most surely setting them up to be ineffective in a world that is full of rules and consequences.
The “The BFF” parents are quick to try and justify their children’s actions. Placing blame on external sources; therefore, sending the message to the child they are exonerating them from having any responsibilities for their own actions. In doing so, our children are not prepared to deal with reality as an adult. They must face consequences for their actions whether good or bad.
As I provided counseling to parents who are struggling with the ever-changing stages of life, including when to let go, I would draw an upside-down pyramid. You may be asking what does pyramids have to do with parenting? Good question, in the beginning, stages, children need their parents to meet all their needs. As time progresses and children grow more independent, the roles change and are constantly being redefined. Ideally, with this change, the parental roles decrease from the hands-on standpoint to more of an adviser. At some point, children are expected to become well-adjusted adults functioning in a society that requires them to act independently of their parents. Think about it, would you still be cutting up your high school seniors meat before they eat? Or go to their college dorm and make their bed? I would hope not!
With all that being said, it’s up to you as to what type of an individual you want leading our country. Strong, independent individuals who know how to deal with life’s ups and downs? Or the individual who is not prepared to handle basic life decisions?
So you decide, are you their BFF? Or are you a parent?
Charlotte Whitworth is the wife of William Whitworth and co-founder of FightingDads.com, mother of two adult children, four grandchildren, and stepmother. She is a 2007 graduate from Radford University School of Social Work. Charlotte is currently an MSW and LSW in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Also, as a result, she is currently working on her clinical credential as an LCSW in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
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