Dear Granddaddy, how do I know at what age to stop being a parent to my daughter and just be a friend? Jack- parent.
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Well, Jack, that’s a great question that’s tricky, but here goes. I don’t think you ever stop being a parent to your offspring. I don’t think you have to pack away that precious relationship builder called friendship until your kid reaches some arbitrary number, either.
It’s more of an art than a science. You have to play both roles in your daughter’s life. Now I know this is going to drive the data driven decision makers crazy. Life is messy.
I have always been able to be a real friend and a real parent to all five of my children, and it’s been pretty easy for me to bounce back and forth between the two roles. I’ve done it in the educational world for more than two decades, too. I’ve been both friend and teacher to my students, and many have thanked me over the years for not acting like I was better than them. But you better believe that every one of them knew who their teacher was, as well as who was in charge.
The same dynamics take place in my home with all five of my children. We play, talk appropriately, and hug like we were best friends. But when it is needed, I seamlessly make the transition to their parent and guide them toward what is good, all the while being fair and firm about it. I also inform them of the negative and positive consequences of what they’re thinking about doing, and then I let them fail if it’s not too painful and the life lesson is worth it.
Jack, it’s been very easy for me to bounce back and forth between being a friend and a parent. It won’t be easy for everyone to do the same, but relationships are everything. So why not continue to build them with your best efforts at friendship and parenthood at the same time. I believe your daughter will always need both of them.
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