You all know how much I like to have a dig at popular memes on social media, well here is yet another. Every couple of months or so, this one comes across my Facebook feed:
“Hey child of mine. I am NOT your friend. I am your parent. I am going to do this and that (stalk you, yell at you, make you do shit you don’t want to do, etc.) because I am your parent not your friend and I intend to beat you into shape like the malleable piece of metal I think you should be.”
I can see where the people who create and share these memes and videos are coming from, but I really feel like they are not only misguided but dangerous. So I am writing this open letter to my children to explain why I value their friendship.
Hey Kid of Mine (in your head just insert your own name because you know I am probably going to say the wrong one anyway),
How are you going? I hope all is well with you.
I just wanted you to know that I really want us to be friends. See, there are two things that I have learned; your friends are what make life worth living and friendship makes a solid foundation for EVERY relationship you ever have.
There is a crazy sentiment that has floated around for ages that you can’t be both parent and friend to your kids. It is based on this weird idea that a parent lays down the law and makes their kids adhere to it. No matter what. On the other hand; as a friend, you do all in your power to make your kids like you. You give in to their every want and whim to keep the smiles on their cute little faces. You bend over backwards. Sacrifice your time, energy, money and happiness in order to win them over. The result, being kids that grow up to expect the world to be handed to them on a platter with no empathy for anyone else. Spoilt brats. Unicorns.
It makes me wonder what sort of friendships these people have. See Kid, that is not what my friendships are about. I love my friends. They are beautiful people and I want them to have everything in life that they deserve, but never have I felt like it was my job to give them what they want. I have never felt that my role in our relationship was to make them happy.
That is not to say that I am an uncaring arsehole. If I can help someone out, I do. When things are tough, if I can lend an ear and empathise or point them in the direction of a solution, I do.
The friendships I have are based on understanding, mutual respect, celebration of our different talents and valuing each other for who we. It’s a flow of energy back and forth; and give and take, for want of a better phrase. Sometimes the flow goes my way, sometimes it goes the other. Sometimes we look at each other and exclaim, “Fuck, neither of us have much to give right now, but I see that stuff is hard for both of us and I love you.” Sometimes both of our cups are so filled with joy we feel invincible together.
My friends don’t need to do anything to win me over. They don’t need to buy me gifts or chocolates. They don’t need to drop everything to appease my whims. That is not what friendships are about. Actually, it is not what any of my relationships are about.
So Kid, why would my friendship with you be any different? I am not here to be your slave. I am not here to win you over with friendliness. On the other hand I am also not going to try to berate, harass or shame you into being who I think you should be.
As with my other friends, there will be plenty of times I will say no. It might feel like rejection, but I promise you that will never be my intention. There will be times that I will ask of you, more than you can give; and when you say no, I will do what I can to accept that with grace. There will be times when you will need to be told that you are wrong. There will be times that I am wrong and I hope you feel at ease to tell me so.
But Kid, when a storm hits I will be your friend. I want to be a person you can always turn to. To help steer you through the hard times and I can’t be that unless we are friends. I want to be able to ask you for help when I feel like I am drowning. I want us to be invincible together like I know we can be. We won’t always agree; but I hope that the mutual respect we base our relationship on, means we can try to see each others perspective. So what do you think, can we be friends?
So much love,