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:
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.