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KD MAGAZINE! 
Posted: February 19, 2007 - יום שני, א' באדר, תשס"ז

 
 
 
     
 

Talking to Your Teen: It's Not a Competition (Part 2)
Rabbi Shea Hecht
About the Author

I have recently read an article that pointed out the fallacy of parents who follow the trend of being "friends" with their children.


According to a recently released survey, 60 percent of parents admit that they have a hard time discussing important topics with their teens.


One reason is that parents are trying to be buddies with their teens and are afraid of sounding mean.


Setting up a parent-child relationship as a friendship doesn't allow parents to fulfill their real job which is to be a guide, teacher, role model and mentor for their children. Parents that befriend their children claim that this will help them have a better relationship with their children when they reach their teens. Though this argument may seem compelling, a parent- child relationship that mimics a friendship hinders parents from discussing things that are important with their teenagers.

Some of the discomfort is on the part of the parent. If they treat their teenager like they are on the same level as a full grown adult where do they now come to claim that they are more knowledgeable or educated than their child? Who are they to speak about serious issues like peer pressure, bullying, harassment, drugs and alcohol or moral and religious values when they are on the same level as their child?

 

Teenagers also have a problem respecting a parent who always implied that the two of them are on the same level. All things being equal, if everyone is on the same level teens feel more comfortable speaking to their peers - not their parents.

 

There is also the issue of trust. If my parents are my friends and I am looking for a trusted adult or someone of authority I will not go to my parents just like I would not go to a friend. Just as I will be afraid that one friend might tell another I might not trust my parent who feels they are my friend.

 

I have seen mothers that compete with their daughters in looks. The competition is subtle but the tension is not. Many times mothers dress exactly like their daughters blurring the lines of difference between them. I have seen fathers compete with their sons in learning or business. Again, it is nothing overt, but the competition is there.

 

Today, I sometimes see children following a very negative trend of calling their parents by their first name. Those who do this mistakenly think that this shows openness and love. I hate to break it to them that this shows nothing other than a lack of respect.

 

Parents need to be parents. They need to set boundaries. They need to say no. Even if at first it upsets the child in the long run this is what children want and will appreciate. Acting like a parent will bring a certain respect and help a parent talk to their children about all sorts of difficult topics that must be discussed even when it isn't comfortable. It is best when parents act as parents and leave the role of friend to their child's friend.

Read more articles by Rabbi Hecht 

Rabbi Hecht's Website:  www.sheahecht.com  

 

 
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