I am my child’s friend—and so much more

You’ve undoubtedly seen the memes that circle around social media. “I’m your parent not your friend” they say, and thousands of parents give their approving thumbs up. It’s also become a popular hashtag. Another thing I’ve seen around the web are people saying things like, “When my child says he hates me, I know I’m doing my job as a parent.”

I can understand these sentiments and don’t entirely disagree. I am not my kid’s third grade recess buddy. Certainly my role as a mother requires a bit more than saving him a seat beside me at the table.

And as much as it pains me to admit it, I too have been on the receiving end of one or two I hate you tirades from my precious offspring, and yes, it was because I held a limit he didn’t like, which is, in fact, doing my “job” as a parent.

Still, the undercurrent of these statements is polarizing and even dangerous.

These “I’m not your friend” and “you’re supposed to hate me” statements normalize a giant gap in the parent-child relationship, foster a “me against you” mentality and completely disregard the crucial attachment bond that gives us real influence.

When we view parenting through the “I’m not your friend” lens, I’m afraid we lose sight of the value of connection. Listen, I know that “soft parenting” has been shamed to death in our culture. We don’t want to look like the ones raising those disrespectful kids we hear so much about, so we harden. We tout ourselves as “tough” parents and get praised for it. Praise feels good. It’s validating. In a world that is constantly telling us how we are screwing up as parents, what little praise we can gather feels like oxygen.

Here’s the bottom line: This isn’t an either/or deal. I don’t feel that I have to choose between being a parent and being a friend.

To me, a friend loves at all times.

To me, a friend is someone I can turn to, someone I confide in.

To me, a friend accepts me, flaws and all.

To me, a friend is someone I feel safe with.

To me, a friend is someone I can be myself around.

To me, a friend is someone I can count on to have my back.

All of those qualities feel like good parental qualities to me. I want my kids to turn to me and confide in me because if they don’t, if I’ve pushed them to go elsewhere because “I’m not their friend”—then who knows what direction they’ll be steered in.

I want my kids to feel accepted by me because if they don’t, you can bet they’ll go find acceptance elsewhere. I hope they feel safe with me and are free to be themselves because kids who feel they need to hide and pretend often suffer mental and emotional repercussions.

Of course I have their backs, because we are family. I am absolutely my kids’ friend.

I’m also their mother, however. Our relationship is unique.

I don’t think any of my son’s friends will stay up and check his fever through the night, remind him to pick up his towel, or bake cookies for homework hour. I don’t envision any of them limiting my son’s screen time or teaching him how to respect women. If my kid’s friends are having conversations with him about sex and drugs, it’s probably not the same conversation I’ve had with him. And I’d better hope in those moments that my voice and influence trump his friend’s. If I’ve blacklisted myself from his friend’s list, I don’t even have a chance.

If your child says she hates you, then maybe it is because you’re doing a good job. Maybe that means you’ve set a boundary or held a limit that was in her best interest even if she doesn’t understand that yet. Or maybe it means you’re being unreasonable, mean, or hurtful. Hearing “I hate you” isn’t instant validation for good parenting, so let’s please not make this a measure.

I read a sentence years ago that stuck with me,“Your child will have lots of friends throughout their life but only one mother.” So to my sons, if you want to go to the park and shoot some hoops, call your friends. If you need someone who has loved you unconditionally from the very moment you came into existence and who wants nothing less than the very best for you always, call your mother. I’ll be here.

When expecting a baby, there is a lot you can test-run in advance: Take that stroller around the block. Go for a spin with the car seat secured in place. Learn how to use the baby carrier with help from a doll. But breastfeeding? It's not exactly possible to practice before baby's arrival.

The absence of a trial makes it all the more important to prepare in other ways for breastfeeding success—and it can be as simple as adding a few of our lactation aiding favorites to your registry.

MilkBliss chocolate chip soft baked lactation cookies

MilkBliss lactation cookies

Studies have shown the top reason women stop breastfeeding within the first year is because they are concerned about their milk supply being enough to nourish baby. Consider MilkBliss Lactation Cookies to be your secret weapon. Not only are they wholesome and delicious, but they were formulated specifically for breastfeeding moms based on the science of galactagogues—also known as milk boosters. They also come in peanut butter and wild blueberry flavors.


Evereden multi-purpose healing balm

Evereden multipurpose healing balm

Also up there on the list of reasons women stop breastfeeding: the toll the early days can take on nipples. Made from just five ingredients, this all natural healing balm is ideal for soothing chafed nipples, making for a much more comfortable experience for mama as her body adjusts to the needs of a breastfeeding baby.


Lansinoh milk storage bags

Lansinoh milk storage bags

For a breastfeeding mama, there are few things more precious and valuable than the milk she worked so hard to pump—and it's the stuff of nightmares to imagine it spilling out in the fridge. With these double-sealed milk storage bags, you can be assured your breastmilk is safe and sound until baby needs it.


Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Nursing a baby is a 24/7 job, which calls for some wardrobe modifications. Because Belly Bandit specializes in making things more comfortable for the postpartum mama, they've truly thought of every detail—from the breathable fabric to the clips that can be easily opened with one hand.


boob-ease soothing therapy pillows

Boob Ease soothing therapy pillows

For nursing moms, duct can quickly become a four-letter word when you suspect it's getting clogged. By keeping these soothing breast pillows in your breastfeeding arsenal, you can immediately go on the defense against plugged milk ducts by heating the pads in the microwave or cooling them in the freezer.


Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

A unfortunate reality of nursing is that it can really seem to limit the wardrobe options when you have to think about providing easy, discrete access. But by adding functional basics to your closet, you can feel confident and prepared for breastfeeding on the go.


Bebe au Lait premium cotton nursing cover

Bebe au Lait cotton nursing cover

Nursing in public isn't every mama's cup of tea. But babies can't always wait until you've found a private place to get down to business if that's your preference. That's where a nursing cover comes in handy. This one is made from premium cotton and features a patented neckline that allows for airflow and eye contact even while you're covered.


Lactation Lab basic breastmilk testing kit

Lactation Lab breastmilk testing kit

Curious to learn more about the liquid gold you're making, mama? The testing kit from Lactation Labs analyzes your breast milk for basic nutritional content like calories and protein, as well as vitamins, fatty acids and environmental toxins to help boost your breastfeeding confidence.


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this


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