This has been stewing in my mind ever since I saw it posted on a local homeschool thread. There was an article posted about the damaging words, "You are the parent, not their friend." and how this particular saying is usually presented as a justification to be mean to a child.
It should come as no surprise that I agree. I can only hope that I am Lil'Bug's and Blueberry's parent AND friend. I do not think that these two things are mutually exclusive. Friendship is based on affection and trust. I am not, however, their peer and that simple piece of the equation leaves more responsibility on my shoulders to show them kindness, honesty, and keep them safe. They emulate my every actions and words, from Blueberry picking fruit over my shoulder as I weed the strawberry patch to Lil'Bug explaining to grampa that blue Gatorade make our normally brown poop turn blue.
Someone on the thread found a definition of friendship as someone attached through affection and esteem. Those words are what stuck with me. How wonderful it is to be attached to my own children through affection and esteem. The argument I have heard is that my children won't respect me, but I think the opposite will be true. As I respect them, they will respect me, because they will have learned it from me and from the trust we have established. Too often I have seen children whose parents are strict and cruel turn to lying and deceit simply because they are afraid of their own parents or they rebel in other ways and lose themselves. I want my children to know themselves and to flourish. I offer my friendship as part of raising them.
Last week LilBug "borrowed" my camera without asking. She then took a picture of the sun. I was worried that she had wrecked my camera and she was too. As soon as she did it she knew something was wrong, but instead of hiding it she brought it to me. She knew she should have asked, but she didn't now taking a picture of the sun would hurt the device. The key point is that she trusts me enough to come to me for help even when she knew I would be upset. She trusts me. I pray every day to nurture that bond into her adulthood.
Bluberry is growing into a person too. Not only do I model friendship with her, but to her through my interactions with Lil'Bug. She too copies little things I do, little kindnesses, hugs, and snuggles, but also the bad things. Her first words were "good doggie" and "nnnnnnno no no no."
So in all I do not have to show them who is boss. They know that I am the household manager and parent and they look to me for guidance and affection. If I had to demonstrate this through acts of cruelty, I would not really be the boss. Think of it this way, in the workplace would a boss be mean and punish to demonstrate authority?
A relative said to me last week that I better nip some character attribute of Lil'Bug's that she perceived as a flaw in the bud. She said I would have quite the battle ahead of me if I ignored it. My response: If I start to view it as a battle, I've already lost. I am choosing to not turn my home into a battleground of me vs. the children. There is more at stake than just obedience.
So that's the beginning of the thoughts I had from that thread. More to come later I am sure.