Will you be my friend?

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A teacher or a parent who can be a child's best friend

A friend is defined as a person with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically one exclusive of sexual or family relations:  (as defined by the Oxford Dictionary).

Yet most parents and teachers want to be their child’s/student’s ‘best friend’. The next time you tell someone(or yourself) that you would love to be your child’s ‘best friend’, think about what sort of relationship you actually want with your child, and the implications it may have on his upbringing. Here are a few thoughts.

Parents as Friends

Your primary responsibility as a parent is to fulfill your child’s functional and emotional needs. The functional needs depends on your child’s age, like  diaper changes and feeds for an infant, helping with home work for an eight year old or setting a curfew time for a teenager. Emotional needs are also varied at various stages like cuddling and comforting your infant when he is crying, praising your eight year old for a job well done or offering emotional support for your teenager when he passing through a difficult phase. You cannot neglect one at the cost of another. But being friends is a different ball game altogether. Friendship is usually formed between people of similar ages or at least people who have common interest. Its rules are very different from those of parenting.

So does that mean you should not be your child’s friend? The answer depends on how you and child define friend ship. In friendship, usually none of the people involved are responsible for the other and are not encouraged to have authority over the other. So if your ‘friendship’ with your child demands that no one be in charge, then it will be very difficult for you to enforce any sort of limits and may thereby end up spoiling your child.

If friendship to you means confiding in each other, remember that your child is just not emotionally or intellectually prepared to be your confidant. So it may not be a good idea to tell him how you “really” feel about your mother in law (his grandmother) or his teacher in an attempt to be his “best friend”. Once you don the “friend” hat, don’t expect your child to think of you, as an “authority figure” and listen to you when to expect him to obey you. So what can you do?  Remember that your child will have many friends in life, but he will have only one mother or father. So be a mother first, teach him what is right and wrong; but be there when he needs someone to share his problems. Make him understand that you will always be there when he needs you and that he can share anything with you.

If this is the sort of “friendship” you want to have with your child then go ahead. Be his “best friend”

Teachers as Friends

As with parents, teachers too have an important responsibility towards their students. Friendship always implies, a give and take situation, a sense of equality between the people involved. So as a teacher, you may be better off being friendly with your students and not friends with them. This will ensure that there is no pressure on you to be popular with them or win their approval. This will also enable you to treat them with respect and ensure that you demand respect from then too.