Thursday, May 10, 2007

My Children are My Friends

I've been thinking about this lately (don't I always start out like that? Do you suppose I'll ever run out of things that have "lately" been puttering around in there?) ...another thought that has been contentedly simmering on the back burner, waiting for attention, and for a larger flame of consciousness to be put under it.
The thought is... my children are my friends.

Traditional parenting (and fear-based parenting, -such as children are grand manipulators- as could also be viewed) says that children need a parent, not a friend. Or more friends. Your kids don't need more buddies.
This thinking doesn't feel right to me, so I'll be exploring the Why of it, trying to figure out exactly what feels so wrong with this widely accepted Truth.

Before beginning this post, I pulled ds onto my lap, as I wanted to discuss our being Best Friends. (I don't exclude dh here, my son has no concept of "Daddy is best, therefore Mommy can't be" or vice versa. We're all, all of us, best friends.)
He just hugged me, and said "Mommy, we'll always be best friends!" while trying to see the tellie over my shoulder. :)
I let him go, as I felt I was centered after this, and that's a good place to begin.

I don't have "buddies". I'm just not a buddy kind of girl. I have friends. I don't even really have very many acquaintances, as I either bring them into my world, giving them status of "friend", or I don't bother. Though that process can take years, admittedly.
I s'pose the best place to begin would be what, exactly, friend means to me.

Someone that I love. Who loves me. That love will grow, and develop, and change; and begin with esteem and respect, and grow into something fulfilling and loving.
Someone that I admire. The admiration can be began from a starry sort of "wow!" for how very different they are from me, or a quiet respect for their intellect, or merriment at their pluck, or irreverence, wit, audacity, politics, whatever. Something that I would like To Be.
Someone to be openly honest and vulnerable with. To whom I can speak my truth. Whether that be in a shout in a wildly exuberant moment, or in a quietly whispered confession. No matter. A friend embraces it either way.
Someone that I have history with. Who has seen The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. And will come around anyway.
Someone who accepts me without making me feel judged.
Someone I can respect. That doesn't mean we have to agree with each other's every thoughts, or actions, but an opposition of many core beliefs might be a bit challenging, and off-putting, as such issues are close to the heart.
Lastly, someone that I can trust, and that finds me trust-worthy. This feeling of comraderie always assumes there is truth and integrity in the relationship. And also allows for leaps and lapses in growth and evolvement.

While not considering my children in these definitions but rather my adult friends, I cannot help but think that these are things that I also welcome in my relationships with my shortest loves.
It's not a matter of wanting not to tell them "no" because I want their esteem, or for them to like me. It's a matter of wanting to say "Yes!" because they are important to me, and I take pleasure in helping them. Just as I would a cherished girl friend. Or my husband. Or my siblings. Or one of my parents.

This post at Raising Small Souls is what started me on this whole thing tonight. (Put the fire under the simmering pot.) I just find this article offensive/wrong on a number of levels.
It assumes (it seems to me) that all friends have the relevance of "poker buddies" or "drinking buddies". Which I certainly don't agree with. And it seems to scoff at a friendship with a child, and deems said relationships as having no merit or depth.
It appears (again, to me) to say that if you call your child "friend", then your child will automatically assume that you have no opinion, or wisdom, or value as a mentor, or respectable place in his life. That they'll (at age six) assume that since he's a "buddy", then he is invited to go drinking with you at the bowling alley on Thursday Nights.
This makes no sense to me.

It gives no credit to children! Children should be allowed to have friendships with lots of other folks, no matter their age.
I guess the whole thing just smacks of ageism, and values above all else bonding with others that are of the same mind and heart as you. I can't think of one friend that is exactly like me.
Nor would I want them to be.
How the hell could I learn from someone that is on the same path - at the same time- travelling at the same speed- in the same vehicle- that I am?
All I'd be left with is someone to grump and complain with.
And I certainly don't need anyone else for that.

I'm not uncomfortable being a parent to my children. That is to say, I'm happy to be of help to them. An aid. A facilitator. A lap. Or a ladder. A cushion. A reminder, a sounding board, a hero, villain, confessor, target, doctor, taxi-driver, coach, minister, follower or guide. Whatever they need of me.
But I'll not belittle my child, even for the sake of establishing my authority, and forsake the pleasure of having them call me truly their Friend.
I don't even have the right to do so.


Melissia said...

I read a quote at Waldo's last week that said something like "A true friendship is one where two people have the same mind but still act as two" and I totally thought no I see it differntly- "A true friendship is where two people think as two but can still act as one" Meaning we are not uniform but unified- and I thought of you and how we don't have the same perspective and how great that is. Just thinking in type about your great post- Love Melissia

Stephanie said...

This was a beautiful thought, honey. What a lovely way of putting it.
And "not uniform but unified" makes allowances for differences, but binds them (the friends) together with a shimmery ribbon, and packages them as having the same the same intent and purpose.
How beautiful.
Not only for our own friendship, but in our acceptance of our children (in thier nievete, joyfulness, excitement, exuberance) as well.
Thanks so much for this poignant reminder.
Love back to you,