Why Your Kid Doesn't Need a Middle-Aged Friend
Demi Moore may have gone off the deep-end last week with the 911 call and the drama behind it. But what’s striking is how, amidst all the chaos, the media keeps talking in glowing terms about her three daughters, especially her oldest. Apparently, journalists seem to think it’s absolutely fabulous that 23-year-old Rumer is “so close” with and “a great friend” to her mom, that she’s “her rock” and provides so much “support.” But is this good for the girls?
We all have those moments when we’re not feeling very mom-like – it’s been a rough day, our own parent is ill, we’re stressed out from taking care of everyone else – and we just want somebody to take care of us for a change. And when our kid says, sweetly, “What’s wrong, Mom?” it might be tempting to blurt it all out and vent. But we’re still the adults, and the moment we forget that, the moment we ask our kids to take care of our emotional needs, we put them in a role they aren’t supposed to be in.
Most of us don’t tend to go to Demi-land with our kids, but many of us do share the media’s fantasy with mother-child closeness. Raise your hand if you’ve ever wanted your child to think of you as her “friend”? Anyone? Don’t worry, nobody’s looking. Besides, it’s understandable. Our kids are fun to be around (most of the time!) so, of course, we want them to think we’re pretty cool to hang out with, too. But kids have same-age friends for a reason: they don’t need another really tall friend. What they need are peers and parents, not in the same person.
The truth is, no matter how close we feel to our kids and vice versa, they’re not our friends. Do your friends ask you if they can have another cookie? Do they have to abide by your rules? Do you offer your kid a glass of wine with dinner? Do you confide in them your deepest secrets? Do they join you for girls’ night out? Of course not. Why? Because they’re your kids, not your BFFs. Kids get stressed out and feel burdened by personal adult confessions. They feel unsafe when the person who is supposed to help them learn to set healthy limits and boundaries can’t seem to do so for herself. And honestly, their friends are much hipper than you are, no matter how “young at heart” you feel. Which is how it’s supposed to be.
So next time you feel the urge to text your daughter the minutia of your day, share her clothes or – God help us – wear her clothes (just because it fits doesn’t mean it doesn’t look creepy!), ask yourself, “Why am I wanting to be my child's friend? What needs of mine am I trying to get met through him or her?” Then go get those needs met – by somebody your own age who doesn’t have to ask your permission to use the car.