Backbone Parenting: Parent or Friend?

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Backbone Parenting

“Children are educated by what the grown-up is and not by his talk.” Carl Jung


Parent: according to Webster’s dictionary, means a person who brings up and cares for another.


Let’s think of our children as an empty vessel. The vessel, which we will say is the child’s individuality, is empty and needs to be filled with knowledge, wisdom, love, discipline, self-esteem, competences, and a moral compass for starters. Whose job is that? Parents, teachers, coaches, grandparents and the village close to the child are responsible for teaching the child. Every moment in a child’s life is an opportunity to fill the vessel. If we take our job seriously, we will serve and contribute to our child’s well being in a positive way. When we have our own insecurity and need the child to be our best friend or “like” us, we are at risk for telling our child what we think he wants to hear. Unfortunately, this insecurity will be conveyed to the child as well. 


When the driving force of our parenting becomes, “I want my child to like me”, we will be teaching our child people pleasing. People pleasing, no matter how you look at it, is driven by insecurity. If I “need” you to like me, I am going to continue to alter who I am to “be” who I think you want me to be. Who looses in that equation! Everyone! What happens to my authentic self? The greatest gift we can give ourselves is to find out who we are, what is important to us, and then whom do we want to bring along on our journey. People pleasing will knock us off this important journey.


The world today has too many seductive negative forces. If as a young woman, I arrive at my job or a new school/college, and my driving force is I want people to like me at all cost, I am at risk for a host of negative consequences depending on the situation. If I arrive in a new situation, knowing or on the path of knowing who I am, clear of my self worth, unaccepting of abuse, I will be in a much better place to stay on course and be successful. I will also be more likely to surround my self with successful, kind, people.  If I have the experience of my parents standing up to me for what is right, I will “borrow” their confidence for my journey. Another reward for both of us, we both may describe each other, when we are adults, as good friends.


If my parents lived their lives for others through people pleasing and “trying” to be my best friend by telling me what they thought I wanted to hear, I will have to find the strength and courage they could not, to be my own person. You tell me, do you want to be a parent or a best friend while your child is growing up?


“Nothing has a stronger influence psychologically on their environment and especially on their children than the unlived life of the parent.” C.G. Jung


© Anne Brown 2015. Permission needed for reproduction in any form.


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