To be or not to be a Friend to your Child

At some point, every parent faces this dilemma, whether to be a parent or a friend to a child and whether being a friend will help or prevent the child’s development.

Our children look at us for guidance and also a role model. So here’s comes the question of remaining only a parent or be friends with the child.

I follow some basic guidelines:

  1. Start being friendly with the child but also remember that we the parents are not the child’s best friend (which depends on the definition of being a friend through the child’s eyes).
  2. Always prepare to say no at some point of time and also be prepared to face the tantrums.
  3. Know where to draw the line. You can engage yourself in several activities with the child but also be firm in discouraging the child from doing a particular activity which you don’t approve.

The line between parent and friend should be drawn any time the child’s safety or the family’s values comes to play also on situations depending on the child’s age.

  1. Sometimes the kid is allowed to do a job depending on the situation and his age.
  2. Sometimes we make him understand why it is not possible.
  3. Sometimes it’s really necessary to say no and decide as a parent that a situation simply is unacceptable and also face consequences.

Experts say there can be both short-term and long term consequences like the child’s losing confidence in the parents or the child growing up unfocused and becoming extremely selfish, needy and unable to tolerate frustration.

So we as a parent should remember our positions in a child’s development and follow the basic steps of understanding the child and making him / her understand various things in life.

It’s useful to discuss with the child (depending on the age) on issues one can be friendly about, and which issues will require us to go into full parent-mode.

After al we are the persons who can make the child a better human being.

Just the other day, my life became more meaningful when my 4 years old came back from school and said “you are my friend, mamma”, though he never quite knows the meaning of the word “friend” till now.

To him I am also a friend as the other schoolmates.

So I am back with the question “To be or not to be a friend to the Child”?


Last 5 posts by Malini


  1. Khushi

    I think the parent is not a friend. The way your son put it, Malini, is so innocent – and a compliment, so I think you can safely rejoice in it. Its more in action than in words that I think we need to remain parents. Now I havent figured out how. My dad used to tell me that in Vedic lit they say that you are a parent till the child turns 16 and then you are his friend.

  2. sarmila.basu

    to me specially moms become a real friend of her kids.. it was my experience from my childhood and now also i see that my kids are familiar to tell everything to me than of their dad..
    and i think you should also encourage your son to remain a friend and of course a good mom to him..
    very relevant topic! thanks

  3. Yasmin

    Part of the reason I think we’re trying to be friends with our children, is because a lot of us had strict parents. And we want to give them a little more freedom than what we had. Friendship should definitely be a part of parenting, but not a separate entity. Children need leadership, guidance, firmness and protection especially when they are young. So I think, it’s all about striking a balance between the two.

  4. Malini

    Thank you all for your comments.

    Khushi, I think each parent has their own viewpoint of looking into this matter. But I think we can be friends to the child after a certain age.

    Sarmila, I think it’s nice that your kids share little details with you.

    Yasmin, I fully agree with you and can relate as I had a strict upbringing. I also echo your thoughts….we should try to balance between being a parent and also be a friend to the child

  5. Khushi

    I am feeling a need to clarify myself. I like what you all said, but I did not like the way I wrote what I said. I was very fortunate to be very free with my parents – I talked to them at great lengths on any topic and they were pretty lenient. But there were many situations in my life where I wanted ‘protection’ as Yasmin says, and leadership and because of this ‘freedom’ with them, I did not. Our generation is certainly more on the friends side as a kid, but I think this is something we need to remember and make our children understand.

  6. sarmila

    yes, i agree with you

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