” I just want to be their friend” . I have heard this from stepparents countless times. I have even heard this from parents. I personally have always found it strange for any adult to want to be friends with a child. Now the definition for friend is a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically exclusive of sexual or family relations. Because of our social media there’s been an added verb meaning to add someone to a list of contacts associated with a social networking website. Now I can see why saying you want to be friends with your child makes sense, and I fully respect that. I disagree but I do respect it and it works for many people. I am going to tell you why it doesn’t work for me.
I look at my friends that I have; some older some younger many around the same age. My friends and I have bonds, we support each other, love each other, defend each other. We hold each other accountability. We have stories of crazy nights, parties and trips and adventures. We vent to each other, we confide in each other. We tell each other when the other is needing a good “telling” to. We have adult conversations about adult topics. Heck even though I am not a gossip type person I have friends who we talk about what’s happening on CNN to what happened on Bravo. Politics, sexism, racism topics to women empowerment, blessings, goals conversations. Growing up those friends who you would fight for. So looking at my own experiences I can see how some of my friends attributes could correlate to a child but so many of them does not.
I always say a child has their peers and friends that will develop them just as our friends developed us. I don’t have minor friends. I have mentored kids since I was 19 years old from tutoring to mentor clubs to even Big Sister Big Brother. I think it is very important that adults; not just parents take the time and energy to help foster a good environment for kids. Now I am also childlike on many levels, and I found that kids will navigate towards that, even liking being around me. Ask any minor who I am around and they will be able to repeat ” she is not our friend , she has friends”. I don’t think a child needs my friendship; nor do I need theirs. I don’t want a child to feel the need to protect them. I am the adult, I will protect them.
I have seen where the lines get blurry and sometimes I can see where the child can come from. When a child has a disagreement or get upset with a friend from school, they respond; to where they are arguing back and forth. We can’t expect a child to set boundaries that we are supposed to. They use to say if your child (particularly a teen) likes you a lot , you are not doing something right. Not sure if it is that extreme but I do think there is some truth to it. I have seen teens really happy when life is going exactly how their teen minds want, no structure no consequences and no expectations. Here’s a little insight for you: All the years I have chosen to place myself in children’s lives, I have come to know this, they might not like me from time to time but they gain a respect for me. They come to trust me and feel protected around me. They still even knowing that being around me will include chores and accountability , want to be around me. They love when we can have fun but they understand and learn when there must be times of being taught and prepared for life ahead of them in the adult world.
The word mentor is defined as an experienced and trusted adviser, a person who advise or train. A mentor role is to provide guidance, motivation, emotional support and role modeling. A supporter is someone who approves and encourages someone or something. You see it molds the foundation of what I set out to be in any child’s life. Now a mentor can be child like from time to time, fun, adventurous and caring.
So as a Step Mom I found that some step moms feel like that’s what they are suppose to be; to not step on anyone toes. My response is Mom is in our name, it is something we weren’t given by giving birth but something we Chose with our hearts to take on til our last breath alongside the Mom and Dad. So when you are trying to figure out what you need to be to all of you guys child(ren) just think on it. Saying that you are not a child friend isn’t bad, in my opinion I think it is one of the first step we Adults did to start taking. Encourage the kids to make friends, to be a good friend they will see that from you and how you are with your friends.
When I got married I said some vows to my Uni (my stepdaughter nickname). In the vows a part of it stated :
“Today not only do I gain your Dad as my Husband and the love of my life but I gain you as my Daughter and a love of my life. I am so excited to join your Dad and Mom in assisting in helping raise you, support you, guide you , encourage you, teach you , and love you. I am so happy that the memories we have built these last four years will continue for so many more. From this day forward I will Protect , Support and Love you as my own. From my eyes I shall see you as and from my lips I will speak you as my Daughter.”