Should We Be Our Children’s Friend?

You always hear so-called parenting “experts” say something to the effect that, “parents are not their children’s friend,” and “children need their parents to be a parent, not a friend.”

Now that my commitment and focus is on raising my children peacefully and respectfully, I can say that this advice as absolutely bananas. Hear me out.

“Friend” means a lot of different things to different people, I’ll grant you. It can mean someone who tempts you to be “naughty” or someone who uses and manipulates you for their own gain, pretending all the while they have your interests at heart. But we all know what kind of “friends” these really are. And if these experts are talking about these kinds of friends, well then, duh! No kidding.

But they aren’t.

In my inference, they’re talk about just your average non-manipulative non-troublemaking kind of friend. You know, a “true” friend. The type of friend that you read about from the following sages.

Jim Morrison (songwriter, singer):

Friends can help each other. A true friend is someone who lets you have total freedom to be yourself – and especially to feel. Or, not feel. Whatever you happen to be feeling at the moment is fine with them. That’s what real love amounts to – letting a person be what he really is.

William Penn (philosopher, entrepreneur):

A true friend freely, advises justly, assists readily, adventures boldly, takes all patiently, defends courageously, and continues a friend unchangeably.

Kelly Osborne (singer, actress):

I say find one true friend to help you get through the tough times.

Len Wein (comic book artist):

A true friend is someone who is there for you when he’d rather be anywhere else.

Arnold Glasgow (author):

A true friend never gets in your way unless you happen to be going down.

Miley Cyrus (musician):

A true friend is someone who is always there during the ups and downs…

Bernard Meltzer (entertainer):

A true friend is someone who thinks that you are a good egg even though he knows that you are slightly cracked.

If it seems those quotes were pulled somewhat randomly from the internet, it’s because they were. It didn’t take long to find these wonderful quotes on what true friendship is all about. I can’t imagine anyone disagreeing with these, at least not anyone who has a clue about what friendship entails.

Now, is there anything there that stands out as something a parent should not embrace completely in regards to their own children? If you think so, I think you shouldn’t have any kids. Hah!

If diving face first into the world of peaceful and respectful parenting has taught me anything, it’s that a parent’s number one job is to be their children’s best and truest friend.

  • Should parents help their children? YES!
  • Should parents let their children have total freedom to be themselves? YES!
  • Should parents let their children have total freedom in what they feel? YES!
  • Should parents advise their children justly? YES!
  • Should parents adventure boldly with their children? YES!
  • Should parents take all from their children patiently? YES!
  • Should parents defend their children courageously? YES!
  • Should parents help their children get through tough times? YES!
  • Should parents be there for their children even when they’d rather be somewhere else ? YES!
  • Should parents only get in the way of their children to protect them from harm? YES!
  • Should parents always be there for their children through good times and bad? YES!
  • Should parents always think their children are “good eggs” even when they know they’re a little cracked? YES! YES! YES!

We’re all a little cracked, after all. And that’s okay. Good parents understand this and love their children unconditionally anyway.

YES! parents should be their children’s friend. That’s what children need most from their parents. True friendship, and a very close second, mentorship. Whenever I hear someone say that parents shouldn’t be their children’s friend, either they have zero clue what it means to be a peaceful and respectful parent, or else they have zero clue what it means to be a friend. Either way they’re dangerously wrong, in my opinion.

(Now where did I put my old toilet paper launcher that I was going to teach my son to use?…)

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Founder and editor of and, Skyler is a husband and unschooling father of three beautiful children. His writings include the column series “One Voluntaryist’s Perspective” and “One Improved Unit,” and blog series “Two Cents“. Skyler also wrote the books No Hitting! and Toward a Free Society, and edited the books Everything Voluntary and Unschooling Dads. You can hear Skyler chatting away on his podcasts, Everything Voluntary and Thinking & Doing.

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Don Duncan
4 years ago

At 8 I had a problem that was taking up all my thought. I had debated it with my playmates and they all agreed, but I was not convinced by their arguments. It seemed important, so I continued to think about it. Normally, I had no problem making up my mind but this time it was different. At 5 I was introduced to the “Santa Myth”. I quickly became suspicious and challenged my parent’s claims. They were adamant. I decided to investigate on my own. I pretended to go to sleep but crept out of bed and cracked open the… Read more »