Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Can You Be Your Teens Best Friend?

Are you your Teen Daughters Best Friend?

I raised this question on my Facebook Page recently.  

Do you think you can be "Best Friends" with your daughter?

The overwhelming response was a resounding NO!!! 

This answer kind of shocked me to a certain degree. 

During the course of this post I am going to explain why I think you can be both parent and friend.
I have a "Best Friend", we have been best mates ever since Year 8 in high school, she is terrific! I also pride myself on the fact that I am both Mum and "Best Friend" to my older daughters, Miss 15 and Miss 13.  

I can hear all the ooooh's and aahhh's and oh no's now!!! Voices telling me that this is the wrong thing to do and that I shouldn't be both friend and parent to my girls.  Every parenting expert is probably totally disagreeing with me right about now....

Being your teenagers "best friend" could be one the most advantageous weapons you could possess in parenting a teen, especially a girl.

Teen girls love to talk, just ask my husband...he never gets a quiet night at home, the chatter is endless. If you can convince a teenager to talk and open up to you, the battle is just about won!

Let's break down the definition of a "Best Friend".  According to the Urban Dictionary a "Best Friend" means the following:- "Best Friends are very special people in your life. They are the first people you think about when you make plans. They are the first people you go to when you need someone to talk to. You will phone them up just to talk about nothing, or the most important things in your life. When you’re sad they will try their hardest to cheer you up. They give the best hugs in the world! They are the shoulder to cry on, because you know that they truly care about you"  

A lot of the points mentioned in the above definition sound a lot like my relationship with my girls and with my own mother for that matter.  

My Mum always said to me that she had always preferred raising the teenager as opposed to raising a baby or a child/tween.  She said she couldn't wait until I was a teenager.

I was a very easy teen.  My mothers fellow parents of teens, would all be complaining about just how awful their teenager was, what trouble they were getting into including drinking, smoking and drugs. My mother just shook her head and said "Nup, I don't have that problem". 

I didn't drink until I was of legal age and I was always considerate and respectful in letting them know my whereabouts.  You might say that I was too good and missed out on valuable life experiences that teenagers are supposed to encounter, but I don't believe life experience should be gained at the expense of a mutually respectful relationship with our parents.  

I am an only child and as such the people I was around the most were my parents, this probably influenced the nature of my relationship with them to some degree.  I love how my mother and I have always been great mates and we continue to be to this day.
My mother and I love spending time together.  We go shopping, out to lunch, movies, and now we have started including my girls in these outings.

Let's just analyse what "Best Friends" do together....
  • shopping trips
  • Movies
  • Dinner/lunch together
  • Great and long chats about boys, friend problems etc
  • Makeovers
  • Offer advice about anything
If I can tick all the above boxes does that make me my girls "Best Friends"?

My girls and I can talk about anything and everything and we frequently do!  When Miss 15 was having boy troubles, I camped out on her bed and I was the first person she confided in and asked for advice from, I feel very privileged that she felt she could come straight to me.  

I lost my Father nearly 2 years  ago and my girls were instrumental in helping me cope with that. I remember locking myself in the bathroom to have a good cry.  I didn't want to upset the girls by crying in front of them, losing their Grandpa had been pretty hard for them.  When Miss 15 found out I was in there she ordered me to open the door, when I did she just gave me giant hug while I cried on her shoulder. She made me promise never to lock myself away again and that I could always come to her for a good cry if I needed to, I was so proud of her.

I know lots of parents of teens that have no idea what their teenagers are up to.  They have no idea what is going on their lives and when they ask the question "what did you do today"? They are met with a grunt in passing.  I don't want this to be the standard response I get when I ask my girls this question.

I totally believe that being my girls "friend" as well as their parent has opened the door to communication and I can't emphasise how important communication is.

Having said all of this, I am still and always will be their parent first.  My girls know that I don't tolerate lying, laziness, rudeness and disrespectful behaviour.  They know that trust is the most important thing with me, that if they break that trust, that will have serious consequences, namely on their social lives. 

One of my challenges with my girls is coping with arguments, both with each other and with me.  Miss 15 is considering studying Law and I can tell you she will achieve an A + for arguing her point!
I'm not saying that my teenagers are perfect, far from it!!  However I certainly believe that our close relationship and indeed our friendship, has been tremendously helpful in navigating the path through this challenging time.

So am I my girls "Best Friend"? I certainly hope so, just like my Mum was and is mine. 

What do you think, do you think you can be both parent and friend?

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