I remember exactly where I was when the words tumbled out of my mouth. I was unlocking the front door and my nine-year-old daughter was rambling about something. I was exhausted, and she was challenging my opinion on something. I mumbled something along the lines of, “I’m not your friend, I’m your mom!”
I wish you could’ve seen her face. I’ll never forget it. She looked shocked, concerned, and genuinely confused. “You’re not my friend? I thought we were friends.” As soon as I said it, I knew it was a mistake. Instant regret. I didn’t really even mean it.
She is my best friend.
She’s the one who tells me I look beautiful on my worst days. She’s there any time I need a hug or smile. She’s the one who snuggles me at night, begging for another story while she knows it’s past her bedtime (I always give in). We laugh together, cry together, paint nails, spill secrets, prank each other, struggle over homework, make shopping plans, and build each other up every single day.
Isn’t that what friends do?
In the end, I apologized and told her I didn’t mean to say those words. I told her I don’t know why I said it. This was a defining parenting moment for me. It gave me pause. It caused me to take a step back and think about the words I say to my child and the impact they might have. Don’t we want to be friends with our kids? Friends seek advice from one another, love each other unconditionally, and build each other up with both words and deeds. Friends are kind to each other. Friends are honest with each other, even when the truth is hard.
Isn’t that what we want with our children?
I’m not the know-it-all mom, but I do know this: If you don’t have a basic friendship with your child, they won’t trust you or respect your opinion. (Psst: teachers, this is also true with your students. Those relationships are so important!) And while I don’t quite know what I’m doing in the long run yet (because we haven’t hit the teenage years yet), I really hope I’m building a strong foundation for trust, love, and security.