I have been a single mom since 2009. My husband and I split amicably in April of that year. My daughter at the time was less than a month away from being 13, and my son had just turned 10 in February that year. While I am not the picture of a perfect parent, my ex really wasn't the parent he should have been. I was always the one that had to be the disciplinarian. I was the one who provided most of the care taking and participated with them. He just kept quiet most of the time. When he did speak, his words were nothing more than empty promises to them; not just when they were younger, but even now. It's not that he doesn't love his kids. He does love them, at least I think he does. But his actions over the past few years leaves me to question if he really ever knew his role as a dad. Young kids at that age shouldn't know, and don't need to know about "adult issues" that their parents are going through, or certain "adult situations" that they encounter. Many times, I got the feeling he talked to his kids like they were his friends/buddies from work, instead of talking to them at their level. I am not sure if he was trying to be a friend more than a parent, but it wasn't the kind of friend my children needed in their lives.
I have full residential custody of my kids. My daughter, now almost 20 has distanced herself from her father for her own emotional protection. She loves him, but she can't be around him. She is too much of a positive person to be dragged down by his lifestyle choices and his consistent negativity. My son is 17 and he will go over and spend time with his dad usually a couple of Saturdays a month. Anyway, all of this is besides the point of this entry. I actually wanted to talk about the line that defines the parent/friend to your kids. As I said, while I am not the picture of a perfect parent, I must have done something right. I have heard plenty of horror stories over the course of the past few years of broken families that become even more broken once parents split up. I am blessed and proud to say my kids and I are stronger than ever. We have a great relationship and for that, I am truly blessed.
I am proud to say that I am a friend to my kids. Yes, I am their parent, their Mom. But I am also a friend to them. It has always been that way. I know, there are many people, parents out there that will gasp at this and say "Oh no, not with my kids.....You MUST be a parent to have any kind of structure or discipline." There will be some that will tell you that there is no room in a parent/child relationship for friendship. Well, I have to say that I disagree. It's a fine line to walk along and try to balance, but it can be done.
As in any other kind of a relationship, you need to define what you desire out of a relationship. As my kids were younger, we had structure and discipline. As they got older and began to understand more, I always wanted them to be able to come and communicate with me without fear of me going all parental on them. Once my kids became older, and right around the time the split happened, they pretty much knew, I can be Mom, their best friend, or I can be Mom, their parent. As Mom, their parent, they knew if they didn't do what was expected of them such as chores, keeping their grades up and such, Mom, their parent got a little more tough. As long as they do what is expected, we have a much more relaxed household, I feel its a more positive atmosphere that we have created.
As a result, I have raised two amazing kids that any mom could ever ask for. Although, some credit does need to go to my mom and dad as well. The kids spent a lot of time there while I worked. I couldn't have done that without my mom and dad. My kids are always there to lend a hand. They are respectful, open and honest. We can have good conversations, for the most part, we can talk without yelling at one another (I'll be honest, I do slip up and yell on occasion)
The parent/friendship relationship with your kids might not be easy, but it can be done. I feel we are living proof. As I said, there are some that will tell you it can't, and they have their own beliefs, and that's alright. All parents and kids are different and you have to do what works best for your family. But no matter how you define your relationship with your kids, always keep life positive. Don't dwell on the negative. At the end of the day, find those good moments, cherish them and always remember....Embrace the positivity,