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Being a Parent, Not a Buddy

I was expecting a nice warm and fuzzy story when my young friend Antionette told me about visiting her 3-year old at preschool:

“Jordon took me by the hand and walked over to one of her little playmates, then introduced me as her girlfriend”

I smiled and was about to say “how sweet”….when Antionette cut me off before I could take a breath and finish my sentence.

“I looked directly in her little face and said, I am your MOTHER not your friend and don’t you ever forget it, Missy Jordon.”

What a total surprise, and it hit me like a pitcher of ice water.

Hey, I am not a young mother. I never even had a kid and at this point was ready to accept that nowadays parents seem to like being friends with their kids. But Antionette was having none of that mother and daughter buddy routine.

This was kind of refreshing for me because I am more a product of back in the day when kids didn’t hang out much with adults, unless it was by special invitation to show off some talent so my parents could feel good about all the money they had spent sending me to piano lessons. As a matter of fact, my mother and I didn’t become what I term “good friends” until long after high school.

Antionette firmly believes that parents who style themselves as “buddies” may find it hard to enforce rules and standards. She explained that any time a child sees you more as a peer than a parent, he or she is going to treat you as one. You need to find a middle ground. Parents can be approachable and still be figures that demand respect.

Modeling good behavior is an obvious solution, but some parents can complicate this when they try too hard to be their kids’ best friends. I think guilt plays a huge role because parents are often stressed and exhausted when they come home, and the last thing they want to do is reprimand their kids.

Some parents also have this fear that when they squelch certain behaviors they may be hurting their youngster’s self-esteem. Although her daughter was not behaving badly, Antionette did not want the lines of respect to be blurred at such an early age.

But what about kids that talk back or make sarcastic remarks that are clearly disrespectful? How do you handle the lip? Auntie Em offers these tips on dealing with a mouthy child:

Tips to Nip the Lip

Don’t let it escalate The first sign of that whiny pitch – stall it. Once it becomes a habit, it’s learned. Call it clearly on the spot.

Never engage with a rude kid. Refuse to talk. A rude child can be very verbal and manipulative and he or she can wear you down.

Be clear about your expectations for your children. Parents will tell their children to stop being out of control. But what they don’t tell the child is how to be more in control. If your child forgets what a nice voice tone is, you could say. ‘Make your voice sound like mommy’s.‘

And if these tips don’t work? Send them to boarding school.

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