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I am not her friend

My daughter is 13 years old. She and I are close but we both do not see this bond as friendship. Regularly my daughter G and I do things together. Watching movies, shopping, DIY’ing or just talking. G shares almost everything with me. However we agree that we are not friends.

Actually I was the one who brought this two years ago when she entered junior high school. I explained that I was her mother, not her friend.


I believe the base of friendship is equality. Equality in child-parent relationship doesn’t work. Why is that? If a mother sees her daughter as a friend it would be difficult to be a mother. Being a mother means that you sometimes have to be strict and harsh. Especially when the daughter is in a tender age, boundaries are part of raising kids. Boundaries are tools to bring values and norms.

It can be quite confusing for a daughter who sees her mother as her friend when some of these situations occur:

  • When the mother has a quarrel with the father, she shares this with her daughter. This could cause loyalty problems to the daughter. She would think she needs to take part in this case.
  • Friends tell (almost) everything right? Imagine if a mother tells her daughter everything. I mean everything; problems at works, gossips, conflicts with friends, financial problems, sexual experiences and the list goes on.

  • Nowadays there are (young) mothers who proudly declare they are best friends with their daughters. It is up to them. I just want to be a cool mum just like my own mother. I am aware that I won’t be too cool my daughter would be ashamed of me. G was stunned to hear that her classmates thought I was her sister when I picked her up at school last September. G then asked me to dress more motherly like other mothers at school. That day I wore a wrapped dress and high heels, my daily office attire.

    Being a cool mum doesn’t necessarily mean you need to be friend with your daughter. Whenever my daughter has her friends visiting at home, I would chat with them for a while. Then I’d leave the room. As G told me once, ‘When a parent is around we are not comfortable talking about things we love ibu (mother in Indonesian). Please don’t misunderstand, I appreciate it that I can always come to you with my problems, concerns and stories. Still when you are in the room, the conversation is different’. Ok, I got the message.

    Being a mother of a teen is like playing a kite. The string is very delicate, one needs to know when is the right time to push or pull.

    And looking back at my relationship with my own mother. I know she respects me as adult but yet she is still my mother. I come to her for advice. She has never been my best friend but she knows me well.

    That is what I strive for with G. Me trying to be a cool mum who understands her world by doing and exploring things together. At the same time I let her discover things. When G needs my guidance she will come to me, her mother, not her BFF.


    42 thoughts on “I am not her friend

    1. Hebat mbak, that’s cool! Setuju
      Suami pernah bilang klo aku kurang tegas terhadap Cinta dan Cahaya, sekarang dia selalu membantuku untuk mengingatkan bahwa aku adalah baas di rumah dan anak2 harus patuh, hehehe

    2. Yeayyyy what a cool mom..
      Bener juga ya mba yo, kadang kita suka lupa nempatin diri kita..andaikan kita yg jadi anak, apa sih yg kita pengen dari ortu? Si anak pengen kita jd cool mom tp ga terlalu ikut campur urusan mereka dan teman2nya. Anak juga mau kita ttp punya wibawa sebagai ortu terlebih di depan teman2nya.

      Happy Mother’s day ya mba Yo!

    3. Iya, mbahputri ibu bude/bulek atau orang2 seumur mereka nggak nempatin dirinya sebagai teman nggak curhat kekurangannya karena mereka nggak mau dilihat lemah.

      • Generasi ibu dan nenek kita malah jaraknya jauh ya antara anak dan orang tua. Anak curhat ke orang tua boleh, kan ini tugas orang tua untuk mendengar. Hanya jangan kebalik, orang tua curhat ke anak, nanti anaknya bingung.

    4. Great post Mba Yo. A cool mum, not a daughter’s bestfriend. Really love the way you write mother-daughter relationship.

      • Thanks Dani. It is just my two cents. Other mothers are entitled to be their daughter’s best friend if they want to. This post shows the other opinion.

    5. Iya yah mba Yo, Py baru ngeh dasar nya 😀 Sangat mencerahkan.. Soale selama ini memang deket sih sama ortu, bisa cerita apa aja.. Cuma kalo mereka dah tegas yah tetep hormat 😀

      • Selama orang tua ngga curhat keanak, anak yang curhat ke orang tua itu menurutku wajar Py. Tugas orang tua kan mendidik dan mengarahkan anak, kadang harus tegas memang.

    6. my mother tried to be the cool mom but always treats me as a child even though I’m 30 yo and she’s 50. like when she’s not doing things that she ‘preached’ and being a hypocrite, I asked her about it (for my younger siblings understanding and goodness), and she just brush it off and ask me to “ga usah dibahas lagi”. I don’t know what I should do about it because I’m the one who stays at home and taking care of my siblings on daily basis.

      maaf jadi curcol gini…. X'{

      • Bisa tanya ke paman, bibi, keluarga lain atau temennya ibu kenapa dia begitu? Berat ya Aryan kalo kamu yang urus adik-adik. Semoga ketemu jalan yang sesuai untuk ini.

    7. Love this post. Often times I think parents tend to fall into the trap of “I want to be cool parents therefore we are now officially BFF!” As a single mom, I have to make sure I am strict with my son. Yes, I had my weak moments but your post reminded me gently that I wasn’t chosen to be a mum so I could be his best friend 🙂 Great topic and indepth writing.

      • Yes that is indeed a trap some parents fall into. They think by being cool and befriending their kids, they would be a different parents than their mother and father. Fact is that parenting requires ability to correct and guide the children. Sometimes it has to be strict and hard but always with love.

    8. Love this post and could not agree more 🙂 I have the same principal that I try to be a cool mom and try to enjoy the same things that my children starting to show some interest in. My mom was never a really strict mom but she had her rules and we always go to her whenever we have problems…until today.
      I told my children that I am your mother not your friend and I am nice most of the time but I could be mean sometimes.

      • Parents nowadays juggle to be cool and responsible to their kids. The way they do that is different but this is my and your way. I would not be comfortable either if my mother would befriend me.

    9. I love the idea kak! I always want to be a cool but friendly mother later (courtesy to fan-ing too much to mom and Lady Diana lol)
      and I agree about the no curhat to children!! they can tell us as much as they want and comfortable to do, we can be affectionate and “be their best friend”, but should never tell them everything of everything! 🙂

    10. Menarik Mbak. Ibu dan anak memang nggak akan bisa jadi kayak teman karena ada batasan.

      Aku suka contoh yang dipakai soal curhat termasuk curhat keuangan dan seks.

      • Iya, jaga wibawa Tje. Beberapa oang tua jaman sekarang ada rasa takut untuk jadi otoriter seperti orang tua mereka dulu, makanya pingin temenan sama anak.

    11. Mba yo awet mudaa sampe dikira temennya G sisternya. Hihihi. Thanks for sharing ya mba, tipsnya berguna banget nanti kl aku punya anak 🙂

    12. Tulisannya menarik mbak. Aku jadi punya sudut pandang baru soal hubungan ibu dan anak 🙂

      • Makasih Ira. Iya, aku mikir secara psikologis kalo BFF-an sama anak perempuan yang umurnya baru 10 tahun atau bahkan 16 tahun itu ngga sehat loh. Nanti si anak bingung jika rol yang ibu pake ganti dari BFF jadi ibu yang tegas. It won’t work. Belum lagi menurutku susah jaga wibawa sebagai orang tua kalo temenan sama anak.

        • kalau melihat beberapa kasus, malah anaknya jadi ga respect sama orang tuanya mbak Yoyen, karena nganggepnya jadi setara kali ya, bukan ibu dan anak

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