Mental Health

Why Parents Must Share A Friendly Bond With Kids

Written by Dr. Mona Gujral
Published: June 11, 2023
Dr.Mona Gujral is a certified parenting coach with a background in psychology. She is the author of the best selling book-'Raising a Mindful Parent', a speaker on Mindful Parenting, and comes with over 5 years of experience.

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Parents, we have a question for you. Do you still remember a teacher from your school or college years? We bet you do, and we also know that you remember them because they were a bit different from traditional teachers – not strict but friendly, easy-going and taught you valuable lessons. It was their friendly attitude that left an indelible mark on you.

Now let’s come to kids. Have you ever wondered why kids feel connected to their friend groups? It is because they are accepted among friends unconditionally, without being judged and under no pressure to be perfect. The qualities that endear us to someone are trust, open communication, humour, and genuine interest in our thoughts and activities. And these are the same qualities that parents dream about in their relationship with children. 

So, then, what stops the parents from being friendly with their children? Parents play a crucial role in shaping their children. From a very young age, children look up to their parents for love, guidance and support, and they rely on them to provide a safe and nurturing environment. 

Over the last few decades, the definition of parenting has changed. While traditional parenting was rooted in “spare the rod and spoil the child”, modern parents understand the significance of being friendly with their kids. 

Traditional parenting also suggests a more authoritative relationship with children, whereas new-age parenting says we stay friends with our children.

However, as with any other thing, we must balance being a strict parent and a friend. If you, the parent, become only a friend, who will be the parent then? And that’s where parenting becomes challenging because there’s no other way but to strike a balance everywhere. Chanakya, an ancient Indian polymath, offered some insights into the various aspects of life, including parenting. According to Chanakya, you should “give unconditional love to your child till the age of 5 years, from the age of 6 to 15 years teaching them strict discipline and etiquettes, and then age 16 onwards be their friends. Your children are your only good friends for life.”

Being your child’s friend is not about worrying over their opinion of you and vice-versa. It is about having those friendship qualities when the child needs them the most from you. They need to be able to come home and feel comfortable talking about their thoughts. Treating children as friends fosters mutual trust, respect, and open communication. 

While this may seem unconventional to some, there are numerous benefits to building a close, supportive, and trusting parent-child relationship. 

Here are some reasons parents should strive to be friendly with their children. 

  • Deep connection: Friendly parent-child relationship allows the former to connect with their kids on a deeper level. Children are more likely to open up to their parents when they feel they are talking to someone who understands them and can relate to their experiences. By building a friendly bond, parents can gain valuable insights into their children’s lives and help them with guidance and support. When children feel at ease with their parents, they are likely to share their thoughts, feelings, and experiences without fear of judgement or criticism. 
  • Promotes healthy home environment: A friendly parent-child relationship can help create a positive and supportive home environment. Children, who feel safe and secure in their homes, thrive academically, emotionally, and socially. Being a friend, parents can help create an environment where children feel loved, valued, heard, and respected. These factors lead to greater confidence, self-esteem, and resilience.
  • Role model: A friendly parent is likely to become a role model to their kids as compared to one who is authoritative. By being open, honest, and supportive, parents can teach their children valuable life skills such as empathy and communication. Children who see their parents as approachable are likely to emulate their positive behaviours and develop healthy relationships with others.
  • Long-term association: Being friendly with children can help parents stay connected with them as they grow older. As children move through different stages of development, their needs and interests may change. By being a friend, parents can adapt to these changes and continue to provide support and guidance throughout their children’s lives. Chanakya also says that your children are your only true friends for life.

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Now the question is how we do it. How do we find that right balance? Let’s take a deep dive into it now.

Form that connection: Organise some one-to-one activities with your child, spend time with them doing something fun and have a heart-to-heart conversation. As for activities, it can be anything you both enjoy doing and can bod over. Like with our friends, the connection with the child paves the way for a healthy bond.

Accept their needs as they grow: Be open to the natural growth of your children. As children reach adolescence and teenage, they develop their identity, which is often different from that of their parents. The process is called individuation. Acknowledge and give your children the liberty to start taking small decisions. Accept the fact that now they will keep some secrets from you. So, as a friendly parent, offer them the space needed to grow. However, don’t forget to guide them when needed.

Have rules and regulations: Research shows that children need some boundaries to thrive. They grow up confident under age-appropriate discipline methods. So, it is a good idea to enforce discipline in your home but be very empathetic towards the child. Ensure they understand the expectations of them and are physically and mentally capable of following the set rules.

Maintain boundaries: The defining quality of any friendship is that the friends are our confidants. So, when you are a friend to your children, be mindful about what you share with them. It is good that you encourage the child to share things with you, but as a parent, you must not share everything or burden the child with details of your adult life, which may or may not be age-appropriate for them. Marking clear boundaries here is necessary as the young developing mind of the child cannot process the mature information, and it can lead to psychological distress in children.


About choosing between parenting and friendship, remember that being a parent is a special honour. Parents must understand that being a friend to their children does not mean they abandon their responsibilities as caregivers and authority figures. It does not mean neglecting your parental responsibilities. But it is being supportive and friendly while providing the necessary structure and boundaries that children need to thrive on. It is truly the hallmark of healthy parenting.

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The views expressed are that of the expert alone.

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