How to Become a Friend of Your Child by Remaining a Parent

Advice from parenting expert, author of progressive educational programs for children and their parents, Doctor of Psychology Michael Popkin.

Building a good relationship with your own child is not as difficult as it might seem at first glance. There is a widespread belief that a child cannot be both a friend and a demanding parent at the same time. But, by and large, what is real friendship? After all, this is respect for another person and the desire to see him as happy and prosperous, like yourself. All of this is true of parenting as well. See, there is no contradiction here.


Mutual respect

Time you spend together, fun or working together

Support, acceptance and understanding

Encouragement and encouragement

Joint problem solving

And respect for differences

Who would refuse to have such a relationship with their child? There is, of course, little difference between a parent-child friendship and a friendship between two adults or two teenage peers. After all, parents feel and are responsible for the health and safety of the child. We can't just say "he's a big guy and let him figure it out." At least not at any age, and at least until we taught him how to figure it out on his own.

How to do it? How to teach a child to make informed decisions, make smart choices, and how to help him grow as an independent person?

It's a question of trust and safety. Children who fully trust their parents are capable of having their own opinions and listening to the experience of other people and making independent choices.

Here's a strategy for building a relationship of trust and friendship between parent and child:


At least ten minutes every day. Board or outdoor games, sports, computer games, quizzes, whatever. Reading together, splashing in the bathroom - the form of play is not important.


Exactly how you would like him to treat you. Be extremely honest and ask yourself if you would like to be treated in one way or another? Respect your child's interests in music, clothing, hobbies, and the like, even if you don't share them.

Know your child's interests and show interest in them. Teach your child new skills and learn from them yourself. Now, in many issues related to modern technology, children can advise their parents, and there is nothing humiliating for parents.


Do not attack a child with generalizations “you are always like this!”, No matter how angry or annoyed you are. Don't show your frustration with him if you expected too much of him. Do not frighten him with threats that "you will give him to your uncle the policeman" or "now you only care about the janitors." These mean things sound different at different ages, but they always traumatize the child and your relationship with him equally. Nobody tell your child that you have stopped loving him.


Even if something doesn't work out for him, don't put on a disappointed face. Celebrate the details that he succeeded in. Suggest to try again. Sometimes the next attempt must be made after a break, do not push it. Give your child goals that are feasible and realistic. And be sure to rejoice and praise the child for his success.


Treat him like an intelligent person. Any of your prohibitions must be explained. Even if you pulled the child away from the hot stove at the last moment, then be sure to explain to him why it is dangerous. When forbidding, tell your child how else he can get what he wants and under what conditions. Distract your child when he is upset about your rejection.

And most importantly: before you forbid, ask yourself "what terrible thing will happen if I allow him?" You will be surprised how much less prohibitions and restrictions will remain both yours and in his life.