There is a fine line between not being the parent your child needs and exerting too much of your parental power. Parents need to have a relationship with their child that extends beyond the fact that the child is related to them biologically. Parents need to cultivate friendship with their child too.

As a parent, your roles include wanting what’s best for your child, providing for your child, and protecting your child. As your child’s friend, your role consists of having a fun time together, being able to lean on each other for support and not controlling each other. Both of these roles can be done simultaneously, but there are a few areas that can at times demand a parental authority more so than a friend’s authority.

When your child is going out with friends, the parental authority wants to know where the child is going, whom he or she is going with, who else will be there and what time he or she will be home. This is the protective response of a parent. A friend’s role is not to control the child, but to respect him or her. This can be difficult for some parents, but trust allows both roles to play a part. However, if your child is going into a dangerous place or with dangerous people, the parent’s role has to supersede the friend role to protect the child.

Establishing the balance between being a parent and being a friend should start at an early age. Playing with your child at a young age will help your child to realize you can be both a parent and a friend when he or she gets older. The main key to teenage parenting is to keep all lines of communication open, understand how your child feels about certain decisions and to be interested in everything your child does.

As a child grows into a teenager he or she begins to assert his or her independence by wanting individual privacy. The child may decide that he or she doesn’t want parents in his or her room or that he or she shouldn’t have to tell the parents where he or she is going. Adulthood independence does need to be gained, but parents need to be parents and balance the teenager impulses with the respect a parent deserves for successful teenage parenting.

A parent’s role includes protecting the child at any cost. Knowing where your child is going to be and who he or she going to be with is part of a parent’s protective role. A parent’s role is also to be a friend to his or her child. A friend trusts his or her friends and believes friends will do right by him or her. Discussing with your teenager why you want to know when and where he or she is going can help both you and your teenager realize what each other expects. Let your teenager know that you would like the information for safety reasons and to give you peace of mind.

Your teenage child does need to be able to establish his or her independence and privacy, but if you know that your child is involved in activities that he or she shouldn’t be engaging in then the parental role must take over. If your child crosses over boundaries established, he or she is testing the limits. Oftentimes in teenage parenting, you will need to reestablish the boundaries. Sometimes, letting your teenager commit the mistake before you step in to be parent can help them learn that there are consequences for their wrong actions and decisions. However, it is also important that your child knows that you trust him or her to do the right thing.

Keeping an open dialogue is important in these changing times. Seeking to understand the needs of your child from his or her point of view will help you to make the right decisions in being a parent and a friend.

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