An Analysis on Parenting and Parent/ Child Relationships

June 24, 2022

Esther Aliu (she/her/hers), Low Entropy Volunteer Writer


As a child, I would always refer to my mum as my best friend. Why? The simple answer is that I was a child who was super attached to her mum. This was also largely based on sentiments and emotions. Though my mum was and remains everything to me, Will I call her my best friend? Yes, for sentimental reasons. 


I watched a talk show a while ago and the guest speaker, who was speaking on friendships, touched on not being friends with her mum. She said she and her mum had to have a talk about what type of relationship they were going to have; were they going to be best friends or have a mother/ daughter relationship. The speaker said she told her mum she’d rather have a mother/ daughter relationship. She explained that it did not mean she and her mum weren’t close or that she couldn’t share important details about her life with her mother. They just understood the role they played in each other’s lives. I rather enjoyed this take and I always refer back to it in conversations. We tend to think that if we aren’t best friends with our parents, it means there is a distance between us but that isn’t the truth. However, the job of a parent isn’t solely to keep the child alive so that they can find friends when they get to school. This is also false and can be inherently dangerous. 


The Job of a Parent Goes Beyond… 


The job of a parent goes beyond providing food and shelter for the child. Yes, this is important and cannot be understated. But a parent must do more than that. They are their child’s first point of contact with the world, hence they need to make sure their children are well-equipped with the tools to live a well-functioning life. To achieve this, parents must connect with their children on an emotional level. A lot of children who lacked this emotional closeness with their parents in their childhood can attest to the fact that even though they know how to treat people respectfully and how to take care of their bodies, their soul is damaged due to neglect. 


Before we go further, I’d like to define what a friend/ best friend is.


Who is a Friend/ Best Friend? 


I will define a best friend or a friend as someone or something that feels safe. A place you can go without feeling like you have to put up a guard or keep things to yourself. If we take the word friend and replace it with ‘a safe space’ then every parent should be their child’s friend. I believe looking at things through this perspective changes the way parents approach relationships with their children. I have always felt safe with my Mum. I know that I can share anything with her and she won’t judge me. 

My mum is my safe space not so I can call her out of her name or call her by her first name (I’m African, and that is the highest form of disrespect), she is my safe space because she tells me the truth on days when I don’t want to hear it just as much as she laughs with me. That is my idea of a safe space. 

I find the words “Friend/ best friend” tend to be based on sentiments anyway. 


On the other hand, parents usually equate the idea of being besties with their children as stooping to the level of a child or that if they are too friendly with their children it could cause the child to be disrespectful. This is why I would rather use the word ‘safe space’. Parents are authority figures and always will be. But they must be able to balance it out. They need not be too strict with their children; parents need to understand their children in order to know what behaviors to nip in the bud, the ones to tolerate, and the ones to encourage. Parents also need to understand their children in order to know how best to raise them. No two children are the same therefore, one rule cannot apply. Take for instance a parent raising two children; one learns fast and does well in school. The other is slow at understanding things and doesn’t do as well as the first. Parents need to understand that their approach needs to be different. 


While I am not for or against parents being best friends with their children, I believe the style of parenting needs to change.



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