Negative Effects of Being a Friend Instead of a Parent

By Tanya Brown
Teens need mature parents who can teach them many skills.
Teens need mature parents who can teach them many skills.

It is important for parents to establish a close bond with their children; however, parents must also set rules and guidelines for them to follow that best ensure their safety and well-being. Getting your children to adhere to your rules can be challenging, particularly if they do not view you as an authoritative figure. Jay Belsky, psychology professor and director of the Institute for the Study of Children, notes that parents who are their children's friends have a harder time getting them to be responsible, cooperative and respectful.

Parents and Children Are Not Equals

As a parent, you have responsibilities that your child does not. You must make decisions that will impact your child's future, such as deciding which schools he will attend and what type of healthcare he will receive. You must also support your child financially, and most parents must work in order to accomplish this. Children are not emotionally or intellectually capable of making the decisions that parents must make daily, and they are not financially able to provide for a family. Parents are authority figures, and they must fully embrace that role in order to effectively handle the responsibilities of running a home and caring for children.

Discipline Challenges

Raising children requires you to impose rules in order to let them know which behaviors are not acceptable. Creating rules also encourages structure in the home. Making rules and following through on punishments makes it clear to your child that you are in charge and that there are consequences to not following your orders. When your child is your buddy, he is less likely to take you seriously as an authoritative figure and is less likely to follow your rules, according to Belsky.

Poor Role Model

It is important for children to have a strong, positive presence in their lives that they can confide in and emulate, and there is no stronger presence than that of a same-sex parent, according to psychologist, author and TV personality Dr. Phil McGraw. As your child's role model, you must model positive decision making, maturity, courtesy and good moral values while supporting his journey to creating the life he wants to live. It is difficult, if not impossible, for you to have this level of impact on your child if he considers you to be one of his pals.

Earning Your Child's Respect

The roles you play in your children's lives directly impact their future. Young children and teenagers will always need someone to make important decisions for and with them, and the decisions you make affect the quality of their lives as kids and adults. When you make decisions that positively impact your child, he respects your ability to make sound judgments and feels confident about your role as a decision maker in his life. Friends who view their parents as peers may seek advice from another adult they admire and respect, such as a teacher, coach or a friend's parent, which can cause a disconnection between you and your child.

About the Author

Before starting her writing career, Tanya Brown worked as an eighth-grade language arts teacher. She also has a background in nursing, with extensive experience in urology, neurology and neurosurgery clinics. Brown holds a bachelor's degree in psychology and is pursuing her master’s degree in educational psychology.