From the positive pregnancy test until the present day, I’ve told you something; a phrase that some people have thought to be strange for a mother to say to her young daughter.
I don’t care what they think, though. I don’t care what anyone thinks about what I say to you. The only person whose opinion I care about when it comes to my relationship with you — is you and me, that’s it.
What have I been saying that has onlookers gasping and rolling their eyes? I’ve been telling you that you’re my best friend… because you are.
I’m well aware that many parenting experts and the majority of the general public think it unwise to be your child’s friend.
“You are their parent, not their friend,” they say. “You’re blurring the lines of your authority,” they contend. “If you are their friend, they will never take you seriously,” is a popular contention held by many who are opposed to parent/child friendships.
What do I tell them? Nothing, because I don’t need them to approve of my parenting decisions.
I don’t think they are right, and as a mother, I only have to do what I believe and feel is right.
My heart has been guiding my head for these last few years, and you know what? It’s worked out pretty well for me.
I can recall speaking to you inside of my belly as I drove to work at the foster care agency where I was a Case Manager, and every morning for nine months I would tell you:
“Sweet girl, I hope that you are having a good day in my belly. You are my best friend. I can’t wait to meet you.”
To some, the mere fact that I was speaking to my stomach should earn me a trip to the local psych ward, or at least a prescription for something to make me right in the head. Then there are other mothers who know precisely why I was having this conversation with you — because they had it with their unborn child, too.
There is no problem with me being your best friend, but the reason people have such an issue with it is that there is this warped view of what a friend should be, and I, as your parent, want to combat those mistaken notions.
I have chosen to make it very clear to you, that your father and I are your best friends, and that is because I want you to base what a friend should be off of the example which we set.
Friends should not pressure you.
Friends should not criticize you.
Friends should not mock or embarrass you.
Friends should not need to impress you, nor should you need to impress them.
Friends do not place conditions upon your friendship.
Friends challenge you to be a better version of yourself.
Friends inspire you with their positive behavior.
Friends support you and show you empathy.
Friends share your values or, at minimum, respect them.
Friends listen and are supportive.
Friends are honest.
Friends love you unconditionally.
All of this is what I need to tell you about friends, but I am smart enough to know that exemplifying this behavior towards you and modeling how you should be treated will do a way better job of reinforcing these principals than merely vocalizing them to you.
I will continue to live out my life as your best friend, and I will continue to ensure that I am the prime example of what a friend should be.
My dear daughter, the thing about “BFFs” is that they should make your life better. You have done that for me since the day I birthed you, and I promise to work my damndest to make your life better (in any way I can) until the day I die.
“You’re supposed to be her parent, not her friend,” they tell me.
Ha, if only they understood the powerful lesson a parent can teach their child by actually being their friend.
This story originally appeared on Grown and Flown