When I was a kid there was absolutely no doubt of the answer to the above question. Your parents were your parents, the adults who ruled your life.
It was they who made the big decisions, they who set the boundaries and they who imposed the punishments.
I knew my parents would always be there if I needed them, but I don’t remember thinking of them as my friends until I was an adult myself. They were the adults and I was the child. Their job was to grow me into an adult who could fit easily into and, hopefully, contribute to society.
There was never any doubt over where the “line” was or what would happen if that line was crossed. I had a very secure childhood. I knew what I could do, how far I could push the limits and what the consequences of my actions would be.
In my adult life I applied this logic to my teaching practice. I believe one of the basic requirements of life is to feel safe. By establishing boundaries and routines for children, we provide them with security. They know what is going to happen and when.
Every child will push and push until they find the limits of what is acceptable. They need to know where the “line” is. Even tiny tots will do this.
Parenting is not an easy business and a good deal of gritting of teeth and deep breathing is required. Yes, they will “hate you”. Yes, you will be “the worst parent in the world”. I was for several years in the nineties when my daughter was a teenager…especially when it came to boys calling on the telephone.
Ring Ring: Hello
Caller: Is Katey there?
Me: Yes, she is. Hanging up. Daughter rolling eyes.
This would usually be repeated two or three times before the young man got the message.
Ring Ring: Hello
Caller: Um, hello, Mrs G. This is Matthew. Is Katey there, please?
Me: Why, good evening, Matthew. Yes, she’s right here.
My rule was that any boy who did not have the manners to greet me was not going out with my daughter. She couldn’t understand my thoughts then. She does now. My job was not to be her friend, it was to be her parent.
Kylie Lang wrote an interesting piece on this subject in our Sunday newspaper this weekend.
Click here to read it. I would be interested to know your thoughts.