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The spoils of youth. Parent, friend and everything else in between

Another school year and with summer over it is back to reality.Gratitude

This year is particularly poignant because it is my son’s final year of school.

It did not seem that long ago when my husband and I walked him through the school gates on his first day of school, age 7.

There we stood, lumps in the back of our throats, a quietness descended upon the parents as they waited for their children to be filed into classrooms.

Parents, friendshipNew beginnings as they were about to start the first stage of the rest of their life, a life that takes them from childhood into teenage years and finally into adulthood.

Parents refer to these years as the best but living them at the time nothing seemed farther from the truth.

The human psyche has an amazing propensity to forget the bad times we all experienced during our school days and only recall the fun times.

Larking about waiting for the bus, sneaking out of R.E. lessons when the old timer teaching it more often than not fell asleep.

How do we know we’ve done the best for our children?

What grading system do they use to mark us by?

A = Excellent

B = Good

C = Adequate

The parent-child line is a fine divide, I am constantly resorting to How do we know if we are good parents?disciplinary tactics because one or the other steps out of line.

Maybe it is the answering back or worse still the pretending “I didn’t hear you mum” as I end up screaming for the tenth time of calling.

How can we be sure that we have raised our children right and that they are thankful for all that we do as parents?

We aim to show children right from wrong and hopefully steer them onto the right path. As my husband so neatly described it ‘if our kids are still talking to us in our sixties then we’ve done something right.’

It appears to be a good barometer to measure parenting, but, I want to be sure that god willing when the eldest leaves he will turn around and say thanks mum and dad you’ve been good parents, it hasn’t been all bad.

Is that too high an expectation?

Should parents expect their children to say “thank you” does it appear narcissistic that we should want our children to be grateful for all that we’ve done, the sacrifices we’ve made and changes we’ve adopted to accommodate their well being.

It is a question that has perplexed me because I have never ever questioned the need for my children to validate me as a person or as a parent so why now?

Where is the line drawn?

We want to give our children everything we didn’t have and more.

The competitive nature of society and peer pressure at school means that children want but don’t necessarily need the most current popular gadget.

How do we know if we are good parents?Are we subliminally buying our children’s’ love by giving them things that in some instances aren’t a necessity, a smartphone where a mobile phone will suffice?

If our children are to be thankful it is because we have taught them “gratitude”; learning to appreciate what they have when there are others less fortunate.

Teenagers don’t understand the value of money or the real cost of things until they have to work for it, a car that costs £8000 or a mortgage of £1,250 a month but they do understand that a new PS4 game is £40+ or to download an album from iTunes might cost £7.99.

If my children ask for something when we are out shopping together it usually comes in the form of I wish I had enough money to… when I ask them how much it is?  I ask them if they had to pay for it out of their pocket money would they still buy it?

I get a very different answer,  it is easier for them to spend someone else’s money but when it’s their own they aren’t quite so keen.

By helping them grasp the difference between I don’t really need it but I’d like to have it my kids have started to appreciate that there are loads of things that we could go out and buy if money grew on trees but, when funds are limited looking at something and deciding if you like it but don’t really need it makes more sense.

It is Open University season where mad parents like me drive their kids to all corners of this great country to visit Universities.

With 4 done and 2 to go I’m at least grateful that my eldest had the gumption to narrow down his choice to six.

As I walked with my son in Durham chatting away whilst we looked at his course options and the facilities, I couldn’t help but think how fortunate he is to have me as a mother, and I am sure I speak for many mothers who give up a lot of time and money, more so than our mothers ever did for us.

The realisation that each step we were taking together represented another step closer to him making a decision that would mean leaving home and I had to fight back the tears

I couldn’t help think about my relationship with my own parents, and the importance of ensuring you keep the door open and welcome your kids through it no matter how insignificant their problem is, making it easy for your kids to come and chat with you about anything is surely the start of developing a long term friendship with them.

The relationship has to change from being parent-child to parent-friend, with mutual respect, love and a relationship on equal terms.

As the child grows they rely on the care, love, support and advice their parents offer them and you hope they listen.

As parents grow into old age this pendulum swings toward the children, they are more switched on with what is going on in the world, news and technology it is at that point that parents start to rely on their children for advice and support.

If that balance is unequal then the parent- child relationship continues into adulthood with parents treating their offspring not as fully grown adults but as children in adult clothing, not allowing them to be adults in their own right with their own ideas and choices to make.

I have my preferred choices where I think my son should study, he is a young man and must make his own choices it is not for me to try and dissuade him but it is difficult.

It was at that pivotal moment that I realised what the parent-child, parent-friend relationship truly means.

Our relationship is moving on from me being the parent advising, telling and pushing him to being a supporter, advisor and hopefully trusted friend.

I will always be his mum and I hope above all else a friend and as long as he knows he can talk to me and that I will always be there for him then our friendship will hopefully stand the test of time and love.



  1. Jane Smith 8 years ago

    Hello Caroline,

    I basically share your views on everything you have written so well above. In answer to your question should parents expect a thank you? I have to say that I do expect them to be thankful to an extent and if we have done a good job I believe they will be. By teaching them to be grateful then they will be grateful to whoever crosses their path in the future. They must know that there are less fortunate children/people than us that way I believe they will always be humble, less selfish, less egotistic. Yes, definitely the relationship from parent child should lead to parent friend and we must see them as equals when the time comes and not like in my situation where there was constant criticism and being told what to do even today when I am a 45 year old mother of 3!

    However, on my side of the world gratefulness has a whole different meaning. Most people from the Mediterranean have been brought up to expect to look after their parents when they are not able to which I absolutely do not agree with at all. This is the case with my husband’s mother and my husband does not see the problem nor understands the turmoil happening in our marriage from this situation. Fortunately my parents do not expect that of me as we spent many years in the UK for which I am grateful!

    • Caroline 8 years ago

      Hello Jane, thank you for taking the time to comment on my post. I agree with what you share here it is difficult and I really sympathise with you especially when you say that having the responsibility of looking after your husband’s parents is taking a toll on your marriage. I have an italian mother so I do understand but in the past I’ve always pointed out to my parents that because they live so far away I wouldn’t be able to help them as much as if they lived locally. I too, have 2 children who need me and I wonder if they appreciate the enormity of the choice they have made by choosing to live so far away when both my brother and I live in the South. Thanks again and do take care.

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