As a mom of three daughters, I've always believed the best way to know them is to play with them. Just last night, I sifted through their collection of Shopkins and told them which ones I do and don't like, because that's what they wanted to do. For an hour. Earlier in the day, we played Uno. Before that, we went on a walk in search of dragonflies. And somewhere in between this never-ending cycle of Shopkins and Uno, my 7-year-old confided that she's scared she'll never lose her tooth, which admittedly has been hanging by a thread for weeks.
I want my daughters to always feel comfortable coming to me with their concerns. And the best way to ensure I'm the person whose help they seek is to be their friend as well as their mom.
Sure, their problems are small now, but one day, those problems will get bigger. Instead of worrying her tooth is going to dangle in the front of her mouth forever, my daughter will feel peer pressure to do things like drink alcohol, try drugs, or have sex. She'll face stress at school. She'll experience heartbreak and bullying. When any of those things happen, I want my daughters to always feel comfortable coming to me with their concerns. And the best way I know to ensure I'm the person whose help they seek is to be their friend as well as their mom.
For me, being a friend to my girls means taking an active interest in what they enjoy doing, whether it's Barbies, sports, or, thank goodness, watching Bachelor in Paradise. It means talking about what they want to talk about. Being their friend is about staying immersed in their world for as long as they'll have me; knowing about their friends, what's going on in school, who the kids in their class are, what songs they like, and if a new dance trend is taking over YouTube.
Of course, I want my daughters to make lots of friends their own age so they have a support team to help lift them up if things get rough. But I hope I'm always one of my daughters' best friends. But I'm realistic, too. I understand old mom won't be as hip as friends their age; I think my lingo gives that away! But I'll still never stop trying to stay cool enough for them to want me around.
Ultimately, I think being my daughters' friend is key to maintaining our close relationships as they grow up. I also know when to be their mom and put the friend hat aside. Just because I'm close with my girls doesn't mean we don't have rules in our house, or that there are not consequences for bad behaviour. My daughters must respect me as their mother and listen when I enforce time outs or demand they don't talk back to me. As long as they remember who's in charge, I'm totally ready for the next impromptu dance party or to brainstorm about how to get those boys to stop chasing them at recess.