(Closed) Can mothers be friends with their children? Interesting debate

posted 5 years ago in Emotional
Post # 2
2051 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: February 2016

I think when I was younger I had a parent/child relationship with my mum. Especially during the teen years. Yeh, we would do fun things together but she was definitely the parent. 

When I moved out to go to university (and I’ve basically never moved back in) I think our relationship slowly shifted and so we are friends now. I imagine, it might shift again at some point (maybe children of my own or if she needs care due to age) because then we might have an adult child setting up boundaries with their parent or taking care of their parent and I think in these situations you can be stuck in the parent/child relationship. But yeh at the minute, my mum is my friend.

Post # 3
1640 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: May 2015

I don’t have any children, so I can’t really speak to that aspect of it, but when I was growing up, my mom always told me she was my parent, not my friend. We had a lot of fun together (I was diagnosed with a chronic disability at a young age and so I turned towards my parents for support and cheering up instead of entering the rebellious stage many go through) but she always made it clear she wasn’t my “buddy” so if I stepped out of line, needed guidance, or had set rules, they weren’t optional or even flexible. She honored the distinction between parent and friend so she could help shape how I grew up and who I turned out to be.

When I went off to college, my mom told me that since I was a legal adult and living on my own, I no longer needed to be parented. They paid for my college and housing, so I still had a responsibility to them to do my best in school, but I was old enough to make my own choices. From that moment on, my mom became my friend! I love her so dearly and we truly have a great friendship now!

I will say, they haven’t told my 19 year old brother that he no longer needs to be parented, but he is a very different child than I was. He went off to college, got a 4.0 his first year, then came back home because college overwhelmed him and he needed more structure and rules for his emotional health. So I know he’s working and going to community college while living at home and my parents are still “parenting” him instead of befriending him- but that’s okay, because he is a different kid!

When I have kids, I want to parent them pretty much exactly the way I was parented, but I also understand it will depend on my kids. When I was younger, I didn’t like when my mom said, “I’m not your friend, I’m your parent” but that was because it usually meant I was getting in trouble for something or being made to follow my rules!

Post # 4
1939 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: October 2013

I was never as close with my mom as I am with my dad so it’s hard for me to relate to this. My mom and I aren’t very similar in interests or hobbies so most of the time we spend together is out to dinner or a gathering at her home. I’m actually happy with our relationship as it stands. It’s changed a very little bit recently because I am pregnant and I am her only daughter so she was over the moon excited to be part of this with me. I admit, it has brought us closer because I find myself needing advice or questions, but I again feel like I’m getting these words of wisdom from my mother, not my friend. She has opened up to me quite a bit, which she was infamous for being very closed off in the past, so that’s been refreshing, but I am glad I can look at her as my parent, and not my friend.

I am worried about how this will affect me being a parent because like I stated, I’m pregnant, and it’s a girl. I have this fear I’ll be like my mother when it comes to being closed off and not being as close to her as I can be. I also get a little envious/jealous of my husband because I know how much I cherish my father and our relationship and I feel like most girls are close to their dads. I try not to think about it too much but it’s a valid worry of mine.

My hope is that I can be close with my kids enough that they can be open with me and we can have good relationships, but I don’t want them to think I’m their friend persay. I guess we will see what comes with parenthood!

Post # 5
1149 posts
Bumble bee

Can they be friends? Sure. Should they be friends? I don’t know.

Growing up my mom tried being the friend and my dad was the parent. I really respected my dad for being such a strong parent; I didn’t need a friend and it made me resent my mom in some ways.

Now I’m super close to my dad, not so much my mom. But she’s BFF with my sister so I guess that arrangement worked out for them. 

Post # 6
1206 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2018 - Omaha, NE

My answer:

Post # 7
3791 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: August 2015

Once I graduated high school my mom and I transitioned to “friend” relationship.  She was always my parent, enforcing rules and making sure I was taken care of…well she STILL is to an extent…but I love how our relationship has evolved.  I feel like I can call her up for anything and she will be there, and it’s different now than it used to be, but it’s a good different.

I think it’s tough when moms try to be “friends” to their children before adulthood.  I see it a lot as a teacher where the parents try to be on their kids’ good side all the time and they try to be best buds.  Kids need someone to enforce rules.  It blurs lines when parents try to take on the role of “friend” too early, when the child still needs a parent for direction.

I will say though, personally my relationship with my mom has always been a good one.  She did enforce rules but we also always got along very well and we both have always understood each other.

Post # 8
615 posts
Busy bee

I think growing up and raising your children being a parent should come first and foremost. However as time goes by and the child become an adult relationships shift or I think they should shift into more of a friendship/respect relationship. If your are still trying to parent your 28 year old daughter then I feel there is a problem. I think at a certain point we grow out of needing parents and it’s the parents job to see that and allow the relationship to shift into a friendship. So my stance is this growing up yes a parent should be a parent first and foremost but when the person grows out of really needing a parent role then the relationship should mutually change into more of a friendship. That’s just my view point of what a healthy relationship looks like.

Post # 9
1282 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: May 2016

So sorry to hear your beloved mum passed away but your relationship sounds very special.

I think there is a danger in considering your children your ‘friends’ while they are still young because it assumes you are equals, whereas the reality is that a parent should have authority and be a guide, not a peer. I had an ex who was quite messed up by the childhood he had where his mum (as lovely as she was as a person) used him to confide in, to tell her secrets and to treat him as a little friend. I think he craved a mother who just acted like the adult because he needed that sense of security that comes from knowing the rules. Kids actually thrive when they have rules. Being their ‘friend’ naturally means burdening them with problem-solving beyond their ability to understand. Your best friend is happy to hear you moan about your ex, can sympathise with it, advise you, can even bitch about it etc and enjoy it as part of a normal friendship of peers. Your 8 year old can’t and doesn’t want to. They want mummy to be completely self-assured and in control, not hear all her personal angst. As a result, in his 20s he lacked respect for her views, and their roles always seemed to be somehow reversed, with him guiding her rather than the other way round, and he often threw his grievances about his insecure childhood back at her in a nasty way and I felt so terribly sorry for her, even though I could see why he had become that way.

I do think that as you get older, as long as you have compatible personalities and interests in common you can and even should be friends with your parents. I just don’t think the right time for that is childhood. I also find mums who go on Facebook asking where they go to have a manicure with their 2 year old daughter very strange. But maybe that’s just my generation (I’m 41!) 😉 I am definitely friends with my mum now and it’s nice that it’s come over time.


Post # 10
8067 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: September 2013

When your child is an adult, sure, I think you can be friends.  There is a big difference between a straight friend relationship and a parent/child relationship.  I know it is possible (obviously) to have some aspects of friendship (trust, enjoying each others company) in a parent/child relationship and yet I don’t think a parent should have that true friendship relationship with their child until their child is grown.  As a parent you need to do things that friends don’t/wouldn’t do.

I am pretty close to my mom and it’s more like a friendship now that I am an adult but even then she is still a parent and so it’s not exactly the same as a friendship I would have with someone else.  But much closer to a friendship than when I was a child.  And I enjoyed my mom growing up, we had fun, but she was still a parent, not a best friend.

Post # 11
5136 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: September 2013

View original reply
stefano101 :  i think its very possible to be both. you have to be a parent at all times but in some situations, you can definitely have a friend type relationship. I think its importnant to be able to call your mom up and just talk about things going in your life and be able to talk to her as a friend, or just say “hey lets go get our nails done, lets go for brunch”

I didn’t have a great relationship with my mom growing up and its still very strained now. and now i have a 1 year old daughter and I am going to do everything I can to be her parent and friend. Its so important to me that she knows that she can talk to me about anything and if the situation calls for me to be a parent I will do that, but if she just wants someone to talk to, I will listen.

A former friend of mine had an amazing relationship with her mom, the type of relationship I always longed for, so it is very possible. She was the mother when she needed to be and she was a friend when it was appropriate

Post # 12
1781 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: June 2014

While I can’t speak to this as a parent, I can speak to my relationships with my parents. Growing up, both parents made it very clear that they weren’t here to be my friends. They also expressed that when I became an independent adult, they would love to be my friend at that point. That doesn’t mean they weren’t loving patents. They were always there to listen, support and help me. But at the end of the day, they made parent decisions.

I think that was a really good thing growing up. There were boundaries and expectations, and I always knew where I stood. Once I moved out, we became even closer, and have been great friends. 

Post # 13
953 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: September 2013 - Ontario, Canada

I think you can have a healthy balance and be a bit of both. I am first and foremost a parent to my son. He is still very young (18 months) but my parenting style is basically that I do what is best for my child, not what is best for me. By this I mean I make sure he learned to sleep in his own room when he was old enough to do so, would it have been more convenient to have him in our room still? Probably, but only convenient for me, not what was best for him longterm. I could make it easy for myself and let him play with an ipad for hours or put him in front of the tv, and he would love it, but it’s not what is best for him, so I don’t. I play with him, I let him have alone play time, I make sure to brush his teeth even though he hates it and I put vegetables on his plate every day whether he eats them or not. I do this because I love him, and I want him to grow up to be a happy, healthy, well balanced person and he may hate me at times but by setting rules I know he will respect me and one day understand why I did what I did. I still think that we will have a good relationship and be able to have fun together and talk about stuff but to me, raising him to be a well balanced person is more important than being his friend and him liking me all the time.

Hopefully that makes sense?

Post # 14
779 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2016

The inside of my birthday card had a line that read something like, “as you’ve grown you’ve become a friend.” Well, my mom crossed out the word “friend” and replaced it with “wonderful person.”

I’m 35. I think it’s okay to be friends with your 35-year old daughter. No one’s going to confuse us with Dina and Lindsay Lohan. 

Post # 15
6586 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: October 2010

I have a 13 and 5 year old. As time goes on I’m sure I’ll become friends with them, as my mother did with me as I got older. But my girls need a mom- they already have friends. 

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