I have had disagreements with a few of my friends about parenting styles. It appears that amongst most North Americans there is a practice of friendship development with children. One friend told me that he does not believe in giving an allowance because his kids can come to him anytime for money. Also, he does not want them to work when they are in university because that is time of study and he have time to relax and have fun. He wants to be friends with his kids and wants their lives to be as easy as possible.
Another friend I was speaking with has adult children living at home with her and they make her frustrated because of their poor work ethic, their laziness in keeping the house clean, etc. She was reluctant to say something because she was worried about upsetting them. I could not understand this. It appeared she confused respect with love. She could always love them as a parent, but she also should expect them to work to earn her respect.
I explained to her that her children as they currently were behaving were not worthy of respect. They must instead learn to respect her, after all she is their mother, she is providing for them, and it is time they learn to take responsibility for their own lives. She was acting as if she was worried about upsetting her friendship with her children. Yet it really is not friendship, because true friendship is based on mutual respect and must be earned.
How can you maintain a friendship with somebody you cannot respect? How can you respect somebody who does not share your work ethic? Just because a parent loves their child and provides for them does not mean they should automatically respect them or try to be friends with them. As the parent we need to dictate what our children should do, to teach them to be productive and ethical members of society. Love is an important first step, but needs the wisdom of respect.
When my children grow up and establishes themselves, acts ethically, and contributes to society, they are on their way to earning my respect. From that a friendship can develop. I will always be a parent, but may I be so lucky to become friends with my adult children.
I think that in North Americans have overreacted to the disciplinarian parental style of the pre-World War II era and have becomes so focused on love, that we have forgotten that love is just one wing of the flying bird of parenting. To give our children only love and no expectation of earning respect, we harm our children, damage the health of society, and get as far as a one-winged bird.