Why It’s OKAY To Be Friends With Your Kids

DSC08130Yesterday I saw yet another article about why parents should not be friends with their kids.  I see memes all the time warning parents about this, and it seems that every magazine, parenting blog site, and advice column rails against the pitfalls of being your child’s friend.  While I do understand where they are coming from, I have to respectfully disagree.  You see, I am living proof that it’s not only possible but beneficial for parents and children to be friends, even best friends.

Parents are our first playmates.  They teach us to play peek-a-boo and patty cake.  They show us how to build block towers and sand castles.  My mother used to play Barbies with me, color with me, ride bikes with me.  When I was in middle school, we took tennis lessons together, and in high school, we took aerobics.  When my mother went on ladies’ weekends with her girlfriends, she didn’t leave me behind in a house full of men; I went, too.  There was no Mrs. Brown or Mrs. Dyer.  They were Debbie and Shannon.  And I wasn’t “Judy’s daughter.”  I was just one of the gals.  We went to historical sites, shopping outlets, and the beach.  There wasn’t drinking or going to bars.  These were ladies and acted as such, and I saw this and learned from it.

I knew kids in high school whose parents allowed them to have parties with alcohol.  The parents not only condoned it, but some even participated in the drinking and partying.  Those were not parents who were being friends with their children.  They were simply being children themselves.  Nothing like that would have taken place in my house, ever.  We had family game night, family movie night, and family vacations.  We had fun.  But my parents knew where to draw the line.  My mother was my friend.  She was always there.  She was our troop leader, team mom, classroom volunteer (and yes, she worked – part-time when we were young and full-time when we were older).  I knew I could always count on her for advice, comfort, and yes, fun, but I also knew that she was my mom.  There were lines I could not cross, and lines she would not cross.  She was the rule-maker, the game-changer, the one in charge.  There was never any confusion or doubt.  Mom was Mom, but she knew how to be a friend (and credit to Dad, too, who always kept us laughing but was also truly a dad).

Today, my Mom is the first person I call for advice, the first person I call when something good happens, the person I want to talk to when something bad happens.  We tell each other everything, go on trips together, and celebrate every special occasion together, no matter how small.  Throughout my life, friends have come and gone, some I don’t see or talk to for days, even weeks or months.  But my mother has always been there.  I talk to her every day, sometimes several times a day.  It wasn’t a friendship that developed as I grew older.  It was a friendship that my mother nurtured from the day I was born.

In our house, I am the troop leader, the team mom, the classroom volunteer.  I am the shoulder my girls cry on, and even the shoulder that their friends sometimes cry on.  We are the sleepover house, the party house, the snowed-in house.  And everyone who comes here knows that it is a safe place – there will be no drinking, no boy-girl sleepovers, no inappropriate movies or behaviors.  But there will be fun.  Because everyone who lives or comes into this house is family, and we are all friends.  When Katie Ann told me recently that I am her best friend, I knew she didn’t mean that I was a party buddy or someone who would condone every bad move she makes.  I knew that she meant that I was the one she could count on to be there for her, good and bad, and tell her like it is, whether she wants to hear it or not.  When Morgan’s friends marvel that she has no secrets from me, she understands that having no secrets also means that I get to reprimand her when she is wrong and punish her when she does something of which I don’t approve.  As Rebecca recuperates on our couch this week after oral surgery, she knows that I’m going to boss her around and make her follow the doctor’s orders so that she fully recovers because that’s what moms do. And she also knows that no matter how tired I am, I will stay up past my bedtime to watch another movie with her because that’s what friends do.

I will never feel bad for being friends with my girls.  They know when I am Mom and when I can be their friend.  As with my mother, there are lines that are not crossed.  But they also know that I will be there for them, the only true best friend they will ever have, from the day they were born through all eternity.  I should know.  I have my own best friend to prove it.

Amy Schisler is an award winning author of both children’s books and novels for readers of all ages.  She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her latest book, Picture Me, is the recipient of an Illumination Award, placing it among the top three eBooks of 2015. Her next book, Whispering Vines, is due out in the summer of 2016.

You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor on Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschisler and on her web site http://amyschislerauthor.com.

Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me (2015)

Events:  April 30, 2016 01:00AM, Wicomico Public Library, Salisbury, MD, US  http://wicomicolibrary.evanced.info/signup/EventDetails.aspx?EventI… 

May 01, 2016 02:00AM, Westminster branch of the Carroll County Public Library, 50 East Main Street, Westminster, MD, US http://library.carr.org/about/westminster.asp# 

Raising Adults

DSC07028No offense to any new moms out there, but you have it easy!  Those first few years of parenthood are both wonderful and exhausting.  Sleepless nights, changing diapers, choosing a preschool, putting them on the bus, teaching them to make friends, watching them make the wrong friends, helping with homework, cheering on the sidelines, cleaning scraped knees and wiping snotty noses and tear-stained faces are just some of the painful joys of parenthood.  But I have to be honest with you, looking back, it was actually quite easy to raise children.  It’s once they hit high school that everything changes because that’s when you realize that you are no longer raising children; you are raising adults.

I liked raising children so much better than raising adults.  I have such a hard time letting go.  It just seems so much easier for me to fill out forms, contact teachers, cry to (and about) coaches, and make the tough decisions for them.  I want so badly for them to advocate for themselves, but I can’t help myself!  I am always fighting the urge to step in, and I often lose the battle.  If you think that watching your child fall off a bike is hard, try watching them fall in love, fall into the wrong crowd, or fall on their faces literally and figuratively.  Being able to pick them up, cradle them in your lap, and kiss the hurt away is infinitely easier than mending a broken heart or being on the other side of the slammed door.  Being a guide and mentor would be easy if I didn’t want so much to be at the reins, controlling everything that happens in their lives.  As if I could have stopped that bike from falling…

Raising adults is a lot like raising puppies.  You discipline as best you can, hoping they understand that it’s out of love, you scold and yell to stop them from doing something harmful, you keep them on a short leash for as long as you can; but then you realize that there comes a day when you have to trust them, leave them alone, let them wander, and pray that when you or they return, nothing has been damaged beyond repair.  There will be accidents and incidents, and no matter how old they are, they will try your patience and make you so angry you see red, but deep down, you know that all they really want from you is your love and attention.

I still have a lot of learning and letting go to do.  It’s not an easy road, and there are many bends, dead ends, yields, and U-turns, but I know that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.  My mother and I don’t always agree, and we had our share of arguments when I was becoming an adult, but there’s nobody in the world whom I love, respect, and enjoy spending time with more than her.  I can only hope and pray that I can be as lucky with my three girls.  Correction, my three young adults.  Loving them while letting them go is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but I know that someday we will all reap the rewards.

Amy Schisler is the author of two mystery / suspense novels. Her first book, A Place to Call Home is in its second printing and may be purchased in stores, online, and through ibooks. Amy’s newest mystery, Picture Me, was released in August of 2015 and is available in stores and online. Her children’s book, Crabbing With Granddad, may be purchased in stores and on Amazon.

You may follow Amy at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor on Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschisler and on her web site http://amyschislerauthor.com.