Should parents be friends with their children?

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Quality time spent with our children over the summer break strengthens parent-child relationships – but is that a friendship?

Dr Elise Waghorn, Lecturer in Early Childhood from RMIT says parents should not be friends with their children and parent-child boundaries are very important.

Dr Elise explains, “Friendships signify a willingness and choice to participate in a mutual relationship. Unlike parenting, where there’s no opting in or out. Parenting requires a certain level of authority over children.

“When parents are ‘friends’ with their children, they run the risk of children not being accountable for their actions.

Dr Elise added that, “There are four main styles of parenting in child psychology: authoritarian, authoritative, permissive and disengaged.
“If parents were to have a friendship-like relationship with their children, it would be considered a ‘permissive’ style.

“While this style tends to be very loving, there are minimal guidelines and rules. This ultimately will result in children struggling with self-regulation and self-control. “They also tend to lack self-discipline and have poor social skills, feeling insecure due to limited boundaries and guidance.

According to Dr Elise, most experts would agree the ‘authoritative’ style is the most appropriate, as it is an approach that combines warmth and sensitivity but still enforces restrictions and limitations.

“Authoritative parenting style is the ability to recognise the difference between being respectful, listening, and supportive and when rules and expectations need to be enforced.

“Boundaries and limitations help children develop routines and rituals, which is considered a worthwhile life skill and will ultimately prepare them for adulthood.”

Dr Elise Waghorn’s research focuses on exploring the everyday life of children in Australia and their connection to policy and educational experiences in Hong Kong and Singapore.

What parenting style are you?

Here are just a few of the parenting styles that you may have heard about… Which one sounds most like you?


You can find the attached mum demand feeding, extended breastfeeding, co-sleeping and babywearing. Attachment parents believe in little separation between mother and child in early childhood (and beyond).

The core belief in attachment parenting is that an early bond between infant and parent results in secure and independent adults.


Every child has the right to an opinion and this is especially the case for children of conscious parents. Conscious parents believe that, while parents should influence their children, their kids’ choices are up to them.

A conscious parent is an influence, not an authoritative figure. And the child is often the boss.


The holistic parent has the desire to live and parent with awareness of how their journey affects themselves, their families and the planet. Eco-friendliness is high on the list. Discipline is not.

Natural parents teach their children to love, cherish and respect all beings, an important quality for all children to learn.

Slow Or Free-Range

Do you let your kids roam free? Then you might be classified as a free-range parent. This is one of the biggest parenting trends of today, where kids are allowed to venture outside the closed-in box that modern society has created.

The free-range parenting philosophy states that children should be free to explore the world at their own pace and with independence. Supervision is required, but not within arm’s distance.


Hate saying no to your kids? Then you may fall under the permissive parenting category. Permissive parents have very little rules or guidelines and prefer to let their children find their own path with very little expectation or pressure put on the child.


Prefer to parent in a similar strict approach to your parents? Then you may be an authoritative parent, which is often passed down through the generations and which acts on the idea that children need rules, regulations and expectations in order to succeed.

Authoritative parents create reasonable demands for their children to help out, to respect others and to be active members of society.


Tiger mums roar with pride. The term comes from Amy Chua’s book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, in which Chua describes herself as a tough, disciplinarian mother.

Tiger parents are renowned for being strict and placing huge importance on their child’s academic careers and success.


There is no mistaking the child of the helicopter parent. These are the kids at the park with an over-sized shadow lurking close behind. Helicopter parents tend to hover around their kids, protecting them from any threats or dangers that could happen possibly happen.


Babies are pretty smart. And baby-led parenting takes this idea and runs with it. Baby-led parents look to their child for prompts on what to do next. Routine, structure and even basic feeding and sleeping times are not guided by mum or dad, but by bub.

Whatever style you choose to parent, just remember you are doing awesome and totally rock!

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