All of my social media platforms are filled right now with posts about children heading back to school. Many parents are sending their almost grown-up kids to college for the first time. It is a time filled with anxiety for both the child and the parent as the child takes their first steps towards independence and adulthood.
But amongst all of these FaceBook notices, I see another trend emerging. Mothers are proudly proclaiming that their daughters are their best friends and that this split will be exceptionally hard on both of them.
Honestly, I totally don’t understand this. I have never had a desire to be the cool, hip mom. And though I am a very open-minded and approachable parent, my children are not and never will be my best friends. To me, it is just the inherit nature of being a parent. I find it disgusting to hear about mothers and daughters “partying” together, especially when the children are under-age. And the argument “I’d rather they do it with me”, doesn’t fly with me. Maybe your child is mature enough to handle it. But what if you are wrong and they are not. You may not know till years later. I’d rather not take the chance.
My job as a parent is to ensure that my children will be successful in the world. That includes the ability to form strong friendships outside of me and possibly, hopefully, a mate for life. I won’t be here forever. I want to make sure my daughter has the best foundation and support system that will help her navigate life as a healthy, responsible adult. I know of several friends that felt trapped and obligated to their mothers in later years. Their best friend status prevented the daughters from finding a partner and having a family of their own. I don’t want that for my kids.
Are there exceptions to the rule? Of course. I’m not saying that every mother/daughter best friend relationship will turn into a co-dependent, unhealthy alliance. Parenthood is hard and scary. We all do the best we can with the knowledge and resources we have. For me, I choose to be a strong, soft place for my children to come to when they need it. It is all about them and their needs. They don’t need me to be a best friend. They need me to be their mother.
3 Reasons I Will Never Be My Daughter’s Best Friend
1. Best Friends Are Equals
As long as my daughter is reliant on me for her emotional growth, career guidance and financial support, there will be an inequality in our relationship. I am, as I should be, on a higher rung on the proverbial ladder.
Yes, best friends can provide those things too but I really don’t think any of them will step up to pay for a wedding or help with the down payment on a house.
2. Best Friends Tell Each Other Everything
It is very important to always be available, open and non-judgemental as a parent. It encourages your daughter to come to you to discuss issues and problems with you. Your job as a parent is to affirm your daughter’s personal value and worth and meet her emotional needs.
This kind of support should always be one-sided and a parent should never use their daughter as their own personal sounding board or built-in therapist. Daughters should not feel responsible for their mother’s emotional well-being. Children should not be burdened with their parents’ problems.
If you are discussing things of a personal nature with your teenage or young adult daughter, you are being overly dependent on her for your own emotional needs. Find your own friends.
3. Best Friends Don’t Make Rules And Set Boundaries
Teenagers test the rules and young adults need to stretch their wings and try to fly on their own under your watchful eye. Your responsibility to your daughter is completely different from that as a best friend. You need to set boundaries and enforce rules. That doesn’t sound like a best friend to me and once you cross that line with your daughter, it will be very difficult to reign her back in. How confusing is it for her if you oscillate between best friend and mom?
I have many friends and they have carried me through many dark times. I want my daughter to find those kinds of relationships outside of me. I want her to be able to build close relationships with girlfriends and her future partner. I want to be her mom, not her friend.
I anticipate that once my daughter is out in the world, making her own way and has children of her own, our relationship will change. Maybe I shouldn’t say never. Maybe we can best friends then. But I will always be her mother.
What is your relationship with your adult daughter?