By: Mia L. Hazlett
Am I mean? Really am I? I had to sit back and think about my response to my daughter after she asked, “Mommy are you my friend?” I responded, “No. I’m your mother. Maybe one day I’ll be your friend, but not now.” I wanted to take my answer back as I saw the look of hurt in her eyes, but I also knew I had to get used to that look if I was going to raise a responsible productive adult.
I wish I was clever enough to have come up with this all on my own, but I’m not that clever. But I am that smart. When I first became a parent, I bombarded my BFF with parenting questions. It was not because she was my friend, but because she was a mother who was raising her daughter with the same morals and values I carried. That may sound common sense, but I’ve noticed when I ask people why they have made some decisions about their kids, they say, I asked So-and-So. I see a problem in their rationale when So-and-So is not a parent. I asked someone who I had seen raising their daughter for the past 7 years, by the time my daughter was born, and I liked the way her daughter was turning out. Seeking her advice wasn’t just about her being a parent, but witnessing the results of her seven years of hard work. My niece was a well behaved, happy, go-lucky, seven year-old.
I remember before I had my daughter, speaking with my BFF. It was so long ago, but I believe she stated she was speaking with a co-worker when the conversation came up, but I’m not sure. Point is, the girl was very young as was the father, whom she was no longer with. You have to understand with my BFF, it’s not about age, but your lack of knowledge. If she feels you lack common sense, you’re going to hear her mouth, especially if kids are involved. In this case the girl was young and putting all her effort into being her child’s friend rather than her parent. She was scared her daughter wouldn’t like her. My friend then relayed her response to the girl, “It’s not time for you to be your kid’s friend right now. It’s your time to be her parent. She will have plenty of friends in her life, but she only has one mother. Be her friend if you want, but how many times did you do exactly what your friends told you to do? If you want her to respect you, now is that time.”
I didn’t fully comprehend that conversation, until I found my friend having the same conversation with me as I sat crying on my bathroom floor with a screaming two year-old on the other side of the door. “If you told her she can’t go to the playground, she can’t go. Give into her if you want, but she’s only two. Two year-olds should never be allowed to make decisions in your household. Do you recall liking your mother all the time? Who cares if she doesn’t like you? She’s not your friend sweetie, she’s your daughter. We’ve had this conversation before. Buck up and put your mommy pants on.”
I did buck up and put my mommy pants on. It was from that conversation that “The Look” was formed. My friend turned my daughter’s temper tantrums into opportunities for me to practice “The Look.” You know the look I’m talking about. It’s a death stare that parents can give to their children without even saying a word. And with that one look the tantrum/whining/fighting/whatever, it ceases.
I now have two daughters I can give “The Look” too, because I chose to be their mother and not their friend. I set the rules and boundaries and accept that they may not like me, but I realize kids have very short, “I don’t like you” moments. When it comes down to it, I rather have my kids’ respect me than like me.