Something has been bothering me for a long time. I see the idea postulated in comments to articles. I read it in blogs. I see women saying it on facebook. It's the idea that we are supposed to be MOTHERS not FRIENDS to our kids.
And I think I understand that the point they are trying to make is that it's important to set boundaries and rules and teach and mentor. I also think they are saying that it's more important to do those things than to...what? Hang out with your kid? Have fun with your kid? Let them get away with whatever they want because you are equals?
But it just grates on my nerves every time I hear that spouted off. It's a cute little sound byte, I suppose, that quickly justifies a "mean" mom. And by "mean" I don't mean "mean", right? When moms are being "mean" they are being strict, holding firm, letting consequences happen. Not actually being naughty.
But as an actual parental philosophy it kind of stinks. It's completely meaningless at best and downright false at worst.
This is my commandment, that ye love one another as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends if ye do whatsoever I command you.
And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.
Doctrine and Covenants 88:3The way I see it, if the Savior of the World is my Friend, and there is a way for Him to call me a friend, then there is no good reason on this earth why I could not or should not be friends with my own children. In fact, because "Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ" (The Family: A Proclamation to the World), it seems of the utmost important that we, as parents, follow the example of God and actually be friends with our children.
Wherefore I now send upon you another Comforter, even upon you my friends, even the Holy Spirit of Promise; which other comforter is the same that I promised unto my disciples, as is recorded in the testimony of John.
Being a mother, not a friend is a false dichotomy. Either, the person claiming it doesn't really understand what parenting or motherhood is all about, or else they have a false conception of what true friendship is. I think that being a friend is a very important part of motherhood. And if we think we are going to get anywhere with our kids without befriending them, we are going to have a lot of problems. Why would they ever be willing to listen to us if we don't first listen to them? How will they want to obey and serve us if we aren't helping and serving them? Why would they want to do anything with the family if we aren't also seeking out their companionship and their insights and their experience?
I may be my children's mother because of mortality, but their souls are just as old and eternal as mine is. I may have more earthly experience and understand the culture we live in better. Sheer time gives me an advantage in this temporal and finite existence. I hope to share that wealth of knowledge with them to make their passing easier and more joyful. But they have their own take on the world, their own stores of knowledge gained in pre-earthly realms. It is just as vitally important that I be humble enough to sit at their feet and listen to what they have to teach me. They are my equals. I would even go so far as saying that they are actually my superiors in so many, many ways.
It is right that they should honor me as a mother because of the sacrifice of my life given for them. It is an additional, sweet gift if I should respect them and listen to them and laugh with them enough that they choose to call me a friend. That we love each other's company and crave each other's conversation is a beautiful thing that only bonds a family tighter together and makes it more likely that children will pay attention and follow when there is correction that needs to be made or principles that need to be taught or direction that needs to be given.
I count it as one of the greatest blessings in my life that I can open up to my children and talk about things that have been hard on me or that they care to listen when I've had a hard day, or think to ask about it when I've had a great day! I love getting texts throughout the day where they tell me what's going on and we joke and laugh together. I also love the serious conversations we have where testimonies are borne and spiritual experiences shared. It is my great privilege to count these great people as my best friends.
BIO: "Real", who blogs at Beautopotamus, is a childbirth educator and doula with degrees in French and Language Acquisition who is a full-time stay-at-home mom. Despite her job title, she still can't manage to keep the kitchen clean or the living room picked up. And don't even think about going into the bathrooms! She enjoys procrastinating doing any real work by running, jazzercising, reading, and making all sorts of plans for the future. When she grows up, she would like to teach French or somehow get paid to do public speaking, because she's really good at talking. Real has been married to a stalwart man (who considers himself the lucky one) for 20 years. They have 8 funny and fabulously unique children who are as breathtakingly beautiful on the inside as they are on the outside. Real joined the Church when she was almost 16 and has never regretted it for a moment.
The giveaway this week is a Dream Big Family Rules Subway Art sign from Landee on Etsy. "One of the reasons we love to create things for our homes is because our favorite people live there! We love our families and want them to be in a happy & healthy environment. We always try to create products that are positive, motivating and uplifting. Stop by our shop and find that special detail for your home that you've been looking for!" In addition to her etsy shop, the ever talented Landee blogs at Landee See, Landee Do, where she shares a plethora of craft and home decor ideas. You can also find Landee on Facebook and Pinterest. All those who comment on the posts this week will be entered into the giveaway.