Riddhima Kapoor Sahni talks about whether you should be friends with your kids or not

Whether a parent should be a child’s friend. Every parent has different methods of parenting, as no family setup is the same

Riddhima Kapoor SahniUpdated: Friday, December 02, 2022, 09:05 PM IST
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This question often arises: Whether a parent should be a child’s friend. Every parent has different methods of parenting, as no family setup is the same. However, what I feel is, there’s a big difference between being a parent and a friend.

When I say difference, what I mean is you don’t want your child to forget the boundary that exists between a parent and a friend. The child shouldn’t take you for granted if s/he thinks you are very ‘friendly’ and get away with unacceptable behaviour.

But yes, that doesn’t mean that you need to be an authoritative or strict parent. It’s a tricky line that every parent needs to draw. You need to make your child trust you so that s/he can confide in you.

I feel a striking a balance is extremely important. Today, every child needs to feel safe in his/her circle, which includes family as well. The parent must make the child feel safe and make the child trust you. You must give the child the freedom to confide in you and not feel scared to share his/her feelings.

Being a parent of a preteen I know while growing up they tend to shy away from speaking their mind. They want to be left alone. They want to share secrets with their friends, but not tell you. That’s why you need to assure the child that s/he can share their feelings and thoughts.

I say this from my experience. I have given my daughter the freedom to talk to me about everything under the sun – school problems, friend troubles, etc. But, at the same time, she knows she knows she can’t take me for granted and cross the boundaries.

Spend time with your child, do things together, and make your child feel loved and secure. That's very important. But, of course, it does not mean you give up being a mother or a father and start being the child’s friend because you don't want to confuse the child. Make your child comfortable enough to be expressive in the family. Assure the child that though I'm your parent, I am always there for you. Encourage the child to talk to you. Hence, striking a balance is very important here.

Another important aspect is not to shun your child away when s/he wants to discuss a particular topic by saying that it's not to be discussed at this stage. There will be topics that a young child might not understand. But you can always make the child understand and revisit it in detail at a later stage when the child is mature enough.

I have also noticed that a lot of parents these days don’t allow their children to explore and be independent. For almost everything that the child asks, the answer is no. For example, the child wants to play with friends, and the answer would be no. Of course, I am talking about stricter parents. But, saying no to everything when the child asks will make him/her feel dejected. And that is not good. The child will start being secretive and do things behind your back.

Let the child be, let the child go play with friends or invite friends home for a play date. Make the child’s friends comfortable as well. So that they would have no problem with you being in the same room. I have a very chilled-out relationship with my daughter’s friends. And they aren’t apprehensive about having me around. I love being around them. It’s interesting to hear them talk about their daily lives. One of my daughter’s friends told her that her mom is so cool and we can have a conversation in front of her, you know. That made me happy because somewhere I feel like what I'm doing is probably right.

Whenever she comes back home from school, she makes it a point to tell me everything on her own. So it's not like I ask what happened throughout the day. I'm not too pushy. I feel what is important is being a guide to your child. When my daughter shares problems, I listen to her and then share my point of view. I never tell her that she should have done this or that. I show her the way and let her walk that path. That’s how she’ll learn from her experience.

You may not agree with your child’s opinion and that is okay. Let the time pass and the child will understand later what you were trying to say. Sometimes, giving space is important too.

I know every parent wants to protect his/her child. But every child has to learn on his/her own, that's the way I feel. I'm happy that my daughter talks to me about everything.

Every parent knows where and how to draw the line. When to be strict and friendly. And, that is something that every parent has to decide. I speak only of my experiences as the mother of a preteen.

(Riddhima Kapoor Sahni is a fashion and jewellery designer, and daughter of veteran actors Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Kapoor)

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