While growing up, I recall my mother telling me it is hard being your friend when I am your parent. I don’t know what action or event that I did or put myself into that situation that initiated my mother speaking those words to me, but I bet that whatever it was…it wasn’t good.
My mother turned grey at a very young age. I would love to blame genetics because I myself started to go pretty early too, but I believe my mother’s and my own silver streaks resulted from making the tough decisions of when to be the parent, despite how much you desperately want to hug them. Just as when your best friend returned home from summer camp or a long vacation.
I am the blessed mother of three healthy, ever growing, and changing children, Lyndsey (13), Erika (13), and Jeffrey (11). I go to bed every night hoping they understand that I love them no matter if my face, my actions, or my words do not always paint that picture.
When my daughters (yes, both have done this) feel that since their friends parents’ allow them to say or acknowledge that they have a boyfriend, then dad and I should let them date the first boy that comes along. I have to put a pair of old parent pants on and explain to two smart and funny 13-year-olds that dad and I don’t feel they are old enough to take on the responsibility as well as the pressure of having a boyfriend. As I suck in the air of my parental authority, the applause arrow on the friendship meter creeps quickly to the “My parents don’t know anything” line.
When my 11-year-old talented son thinks he is old enough to hang around the hockey rink with kids that have finished high school or the 1st year of college, I have to step in and give him a couple cents worth of my parental judgment. He tells me I am ruining his life. Parenting is not an easy job, especially when I fear my son feels that he does not have a friend in me.
Since getting older, my relationship with my mother has more friendship moments then tests of parental rights and expectations. I guess that will happen with my children, as they get older too. As for now, I continue to try to be the parent I was created to be. I hope that when my children become parents, they understand how hard it is to be a friend and a parent at the same time.
Although this is my personal story, parenting is a tough job for everyone, regardless of race or ethnicity.