I’m Not Your Friend

I have told my daughter on more than one occasion that I am not her friend. She doesn’t need to think that I’m cool. We don’t have to like the same movies, music, or celebrities. I am not afraid to risk embarrassing her by singing along to Wham! in public. I don’t need her to agree with how I wear my hair, even if I do love it when she gives me a compliment.

The problem is, I spend more time with her than I do anyone else. When we go on road trips, we sing along to the music on the radio—I can’t help that I know the lyrics to every pop song we hear, the same ones are played constantly. She’s the one who gets me sucked into bad reality television, adding it to our list of things we must watch together. I know about all of the kids in her grade, both the ones that are her friends and those that are not. She constantly asks me questions about my life—from details about my friends growing up to why I decided to travel to Turkey—anything she finds herself suddenly wondering about. I don’t answer all of them, some I do with the abridged version, others I give so many details that I catch her zoning out midway through my answer.

On the surface, it may look like my daughter and I are friends. However, we are not. I am her mother. My job is to love her, to help guide her, to teach her, and to give her the tools to navigate her life. I am not obligated to tell her everything that goes on in my life, nor would I want to burden her with the worries that sometimes keep me up at night.

I know that a time will come when she’ll no longer want to hear my opinion on anything, she will be mortified at the thought of singing along with me in the car, and she will prefer to watch television alone in her room rather than with me.

As much as this rejection will hurt me, I will never be hurt so badly that I give up on her.

I will continue to share my opinions with her. I will be interested in all of the things she cares about—the subjects she is interested in, the music she listens to, the movies she loves, the friends that have stood by her and those that have not. I will share with her my hopes for her future, and I will never judge her if she chooses a path that is different than the one I envisioned her walking. I will remind her of the strong, independent person she is when she begins to doubt her own abilities. I will give her strength when she needs it.

I will talk to her.

I will be her mother.

When the teen years pass, I hope to find that we have come out on the other side stronger for having gone through them. For now, however, I will enjoy the time I have with her while she is still eleven.

I wish my advice to my daughter could be to always ask me questions, to never keep me in the dark about her worries and fears—to stay exactly how she is now. Of course, I know that can never be. My advice, instead, is for her to once-in-a-while look back on these words I used to describe my job as her mother, and to know that I will always be her biggest supporter—and I look forward to the day that she does become my friend.

Published by Erin Rehill

A few years ago, my then eight-year-old daughter told me that she wished I could write down all the things I told her so that she wouldn’t forget them when she got older. In that moment, my daughter gave me such a sense of validation, something I hadn’t really experienced in that way. As parents, we don’t often receive confirmation from our children that we are doing a good job, or that we even know what we are talking about. Since that time, I’ve started to pay more attention to the things I tell her, often thinking to myself “Will she remember this when she is older?” So, this is for her, my words of advice to be read, thought about, laughed at, and maybe even used, when she is older.

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  1. I’ve heard that daughters whose mothers tried to be their friends wish they’d had moms instead. Friends is something you can go for when she’s older… but it’s probably best that she knows someone else is in control right now.

  2. While we all grow up, we never quite lose the need to be nurtured or more explicitly, “mothered”.

  3. Erin, your daughter is beautiful!
    Completely agree with you about being your daughter’s mother, not friend. I just hope I can have a relationship with my daughter like you do with yours. Thanks for your thoughts.

    1. Thanks, Judy. I feel like it’s a constant work-in-progress. Today I have yelled at her to stop doing whatever she’s doing more than I’ve had actual conversation. Also, forgive me for not writing you back. I was away all last week, and the time has just gotten past me. I will be writing you this weekend!

  4. Erin I really enjoy your posts. You have a wonderful relationship with your daughter. It can only bloom more. Hang on the teen years are challenging. My girls are wonderful wives mommies and we survived all those years and are still friends too. Chat about reality shows music and my fav. I get it now mom. #commenthour love

  5. As always, beautiful!! While I want to talk to my daughter more honestly than my mother did to me, I also want her to know that I am her mother, that we are not friends. I will always do what is best FOR her, and that may mean doing things TO her that she doesn’t like. I will always be okay with that. Even if she isn’t.

  6. At this age, you definitely want to be the best mother you can be. I feel you hit the nail on the head…

    “you’ll still support her decisions even if it’s not what you envisioned for her.”

    Allowing her to live out her dreams and her own life, with guidance of course, is the best way to keep a rich relationship with her even as she gets older.

    As much as I love my Dad, there are times where when I can tell that my choices in life aren’t how he would go about it. This causes us to clash because I’m obviously no longer a kid and he is passionate about his opinions. While both sides have to be respected, I believe you have it down right. Let her decide her path while you share your opinions and that will enable her to grow!

    One thing is…I know you said, “you’re not her friend,” but you will become friends with her as she gets older. I feel I’m friends with my parents even as I get older because the “parenting” stage has long passed, however, there are still the times where I go back to them for that advice I sought after for when I was a kid. That will never change and your daughter will always look to you for advice too 🙂

  7. I think you captured my relationship with my own mother. She is a wonderful woman and I admire her so much. As I have gotten older she has become not only my mother, but my mentor and best friend. I pray you and your daughter’s relationship will continue to develop into something uniquely yours.

  8. Excellent post. The problem I see (as a teacher) is that so many parents try to be “buddys” with their children, and it never turns out well. Good for you – as hard as it can be – for sticking to your guns.

  9. Lovely and very meaningful post! My husband and I talk a lot about this and how we are not our kids’ buddies… we are the parents. They don’t even have to like us….though it does feel nice when they do 🙂

  10. Sounds like you have an awesome relationship with your daughter. She’s beautiful btw. My mom did an amazing job raising us and keeping that line drawn in the sand between mom and friend. We had some rough patches in my teen years *nothing like what some of my friends were putting their parents through though* but now we are very very close and she truly is one of my best friends. You sound like a wonderful Mommy and I’m sure your daughter will really grow to appreciate that!…especially when she becomes a Mommy!

    Visiting from Lovelinks.

    1. Thank you so much for your unbelievably kind words about my relationship with my daughter. Your comments about your relationship with your own mother really moved me, and I truly hope that I ill have a similar relationship with my daughter when she is grown. Thanks again for leaving a comment.

    1. Thank you so much for your feedback about my writing. I would also have to agree about Wham! I even have an original album with their faces on it! I’m sure it will be worth a lot of money some day.

  11. I found you through lovelinks. Very nice words! My mom wasn’t my friend growing up, but she’s my best friend now!

  12. I loved that & also needed to hear that. “Your mean” has been spewing out of my daughters mouth on a daily basis these days- and at 4 I can see I got the clone of myself that my mom wished upon me since as far back as I can remember! I’m also proud of my relationship with my mom…as a teenager, I could never see being friends with her- now she is a very dear one. I pray that my daughter’s difficult phase doesnt last well into her teens…wishful thinking, huh? My heart breaks one “your mean” at a time.

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