One of the biggest debates that go on inside a mother’s mind is where to draw the line between being a friend to her child and being a mother. The line between being a friend and mother can get very blurry and to the point of no return. Many think that children have friends for a reason and mothers aren’t meant to be one of them. It is extremely easy to lose sight of the teaching and guiding we are supposed to be doing as mothers, when we focus more on being a friend. I know I was one of those people who thought that, but before I became a mother myself. Now, I am the biggest advocate of trying to strike a balance between being a mother and friend to your child.
This is something that I feel is important as well as necessary. A relationship between a mother and child is the only relationship in the world that is selfless and represents pure love. Being a mother, can mean being that one person your child can talk about anything to and at the same time be the person who sets the rules, expectations, and boundaries for behaviour. It is not necessary for a mother to be defined as ‘cool’ because then you start to lose sight of what your role really is as a mother. When the friend aspect overshadows the mother, rules become a thing of the past with a lack of any sort of consistency to your child’s life leading to comfort and safety. Striking and maintaining that balance between being a mother and friend to your child is key. This can change the way your child approaches life and lives his/her life.
From the time my elder son could talk, I have always made it a point to practice kindness and honesty with him. I think kindness goes hand in hand with almost every other quality that we hope our children will possess. By honesty, I mean honesty with me. As he grows and even at this young age of 4, I am trying with all my might to ensure that he knows he can come to me with any problem big or small. When they are young their big problems seem small to us but what they feel is what matters. I know it is asking for a lot but I want my both my sons to think of me as the first person they want to run to when they have a problem or something is disturbing them and they are unclear how to deal with it. Events around the world including India have had a traumatic effect on parents everywhere. The most recent Florida high school shooting has left not only America stunned but the rest of the world as well. This is one among the countless shootings that have taken place in the last few years. Sitting in India, we cannot put our hands up and say, “school shootings will never take place in India”. Whether that may be true or not, every country has its’ shocking events. The root cause of every violent event with a child or a teenager at the helm, boils down to how our children have been raised, the relationship with their mother and their morals and values. The violent behaviour stems from unexpressed feelings, insecurity and a lack of connection with family and friends.
Encouraging an open relationship with our children where they see us as part friend, gives us a direct line of sight into their life. It is crucial for us as mothers to know their ups and downs in school, arguments with friends, any attachments to peers and so on; and this even at a very young age. People say it is impossible to know what your children are always doing but that is a big problem right there and the line between being a friend and a mother becomes blurred. There are always ways to know who they are with, what they are doing and where they are going. There are always ways to know what their interests are, their fears and worries. Practising transparency with them goes a long way. So, my point here – THERE ARE ALWAYS WAYS TO KNOW.
It is crucial for mothers to bridge the mother-child relationship with friendship. I have seen houses where mothers rule their households with firm discipline, strict rules and have the inability to create any form of friendship with their children. No third person can judge what takes place in another person’s home but often, children from those houses fall into bad situations as a result of facing difficult decisions alone without any guidance. I am not saying to disregard discipline, but it is surely a whole lot easier if it is done as a friend and mother. Friends have mutual respect. One of the many things we as mothers don’t realise is that if we want our children to respect us, we must show them respect. We are so quick to demand respect from them but then we are equally quick to dismiss many things they want to talk to us about.
So whatever age your children may be, being a mother and a friend is the best way to go. It is important to establish that you will always be a mother first and then a friend, but they are both not mutually exclusive. I have always believed that being a mother isn’t about doing what is easy, but about what is best for your child.