I know and respect some parents who don’t believe we should ever be friends with our children, at any age. My personal conviction has been that during my children’s formative years, I was only their parent, not their friend.
But as they’ve grown into young women, I believe I’ve shifted to being both their parent—that…first, foremost, and always—and also their friend. For what is a friend? Someone you enjoy spending time with? Someone you care about? Someone whose life you invest in and who invests in yours? Someone you trust? Someone whose burdens you share and who shares yours?
All of these describe my relationship with my older kids, and so I consider them friends, as they do me. “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses. Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice” (Proverbs 27:6, 9).
These are friends I have known their entire lives and who have known me their entire lives. We’ve laughed together, cried together, fought together, reconciled together. We are intimately acquainted with each others’ strengths, weaknesses, longings, heartaches, preferences, and temperaments. We’ve seen each other at our worst but always believe in our best. All this experience and intimacy comes together as a gift that is a rare and beautiful treasure indeed.
4. Your Have-To’s Become Your Get-To’s
The other morning, I got to make breakfast for my big kid. Other parents of teens or college students or young adults or middle-aged adults will understand the “got to” of this. So much of what feels like have-to when our kids are small gives way to get-to or hope-to when they’re big.
Things like making breakfast, packing lunches, tucking kids into bed, playing games, watching kids’ choice movies, cooking dinner (again), doing laundry, making beds, nursing sick kids, answering questions, solving problems: I’m sure I should have always considered these tasks a privilege back then when they were happening with daily regularity, but I didn’t. These were often my have-to’s.
Now, though, they are my get-to’s--partly because they’re necessarily irregular and partly because (I hope) with age comes not only wisdom but also appreciation. I don’t often get to do these thing for my older kids anymore, so when I do, even though technically I’m the one doing the giving--time, energy, attention, care--I always feel like really, I’m the one getting something.
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