I grew up with a strong notion that my Mom was NOT my friend. It was a comment she made quite often that she was not here to be my friend and it’s an idea that I have carried with my own children. Yet, as my daughters grow through ages and stages, I think I’m having second thoughts. I do want to be her friend.
I want to be the example.
As my kids navigate finding friends and forming long term relationships, I want them to choose people that will be healthy for them. I want them to look at me as their first example of a friend to help them find good qualities in the friends they choose. I want them to seek friends that are not only kind and fair but I want them to seek out those that will hold them accountable and encourage them to be their best selves.
I remember being in high school and hearing kids say, “You aren’t my Mom!” when others tried to hold them accountable or tell them they were making a bad choice. I want my kids to remember that a good friend wants to keep you safe and should tell you when you are doing the wrong thing. A good friend should encourage and support you and tell you that you’re awesome, smart, and strong. When I think of my very best friends as adults they are the ones that support me the most, offer a shoulder to cry on, and wave the red flags when I am making a “stupid” choice. They encourage me to take care of myself, and to slow down and look at all the facts when making a decision. They really are my extra Moms!
I want them to tell me their secrets.
I have an absolutely AMAZING and supportive Mom that has encouraged me and celebrated me through every step of life. She has always made me feel confident and loved and let me make my own decisions. But, she’s never been my confidant. Not that she didn’t encourage me to tell her everything; but because there has always been a barrier because you want to keep your secrets with the safety of a friend. There has always been an invisible wall up for me because she was my MOM and she was not my FRIEND. I never longed to gossip with her or tell her all the things that went on with friends or the boy that I thought was sooo cute. She was always just Mom, yet my friends who grew up with a Mom who encouraged them to see her as a friend were more likely to share everything with her.
I want my girls to see me as the person that they want to share all the details of their world with. I want them to use me as their safe space to share their dreams and insecurities. I want to guide them through what it looks like to be a good friend and teach them how to trust others and how to recognize warning signs in those that may not be so great.
Good friends are responsible.
In all of this, I want my kids to know that a good friend is responsible! One of the hardest things I had to do as a teen was tattle on my best friend. She tried to sneak out to see a boy that was really bad news after we dropped her off home. We overheard her plotting on the phone and when she pretended to go inside we called her Mom to let her know her plans. We knew we were responsible for her and we refused to let her follow through on an unsafe decision that would put her in harm’s way. That is the kind of friend I want my kids to select. A friend that doesn’t care if you will get mad, they will tell you the hard truths and protect you by any means necessary.
Good friends make decisions that are sometimes hard. I may not always be liked but a good friend is always there after a big fight and you hug and make up and say you’re so sorry for the things you said. I want my kids to know that I will be there for them no matter what. No matter how hard it is to say no, I will say it if that’s what’s best for them. We may not stay up and chat on the phone all night but I will always be there, I will always be watching, I will always be Mom, and I’m happy to always be their friend.