The Right Balance
When parent-child friendship is practiced with clear boundaries, it produces a
household where both parties are mindful of their responsibilities.
In both form and substance, parenting styles vary across cultures and socio-economic strata. We can average these to two major approaches: the “my way or the highway” style popular in Asian societies, and the “buddy” attitude predominant in the West.
While all parenting styles converge on raising emotionally healthy and independent adults, no consensus exists among experts on an optimal blueprint. The truth thus is far more complex than we perceive.
Let’s review two contrasting opinions to this effect. A New Hampshire University study in 2012 found parents who practice strict child-rearing invariably raise unruly and disobedient children.
Conversely, Dr. Martin Stephen in a Lancashire Post article in March 2018 bemoaned the “buddy syndrome” among parents as responsible for the same outcomes. He stressed parents must act as authority figures and not friends for their children’s greater good.
Naturally, such divisive opinions do little to clarify matters for parents. So what should they do? To answer this question, we must first distinguish between the two approaches and uncover a reasonable middle ground.
Asian parents typically prefer to exercise absolute authority on their children’s lives. They base this preference on the notion that children are young and naïve. Likewise, they expect them to accept this dominance unquestioningly in their best interests.
Parenting is a tough gig at the best of times and only gets tougher as children navigate through adolescence.
Often, parents who choose the opposite tack find themselves accused of neglect and harmful permissiveness. But aspiring to befriend your children is not bad parenting, as this allows family bonds to root deeper.