Parent or Best Friend?

Hands up if you have a teen daughter? A few years ago, I was advised to be my daughter’s parent- not her best friend. The advice was given that I need to be her guiding influence and an authority figure. And with that, I do agree! But…

So I tried being more parental…and nearly lost her heart. It wasn’t in the being parental part that nearly did it- it was the imbalance…being one but not the other. Oh, praise the Lord that he did not keep me at that place for long…for He knows my heart and what  I desire. He pulled me from that and set my feet upon a path where I could be both parent and best friend.



My 18yodaughter does not have a best friend, besides her father and I. It’s a lonely world out there for a young adult who holds strong values and convictions (and isn’t afraid to speak them!). She has many acquaintances and friends but none who share the same values with similar depth. Well, there are a few other young ladies who do but they are not in close geographical proximity to each other. Therefore, it’s important that I be there for her- to listen to her, to give to her- to be her role model.

Now I have read quite a lot of articles, blogs and magazines that speak of the parent being the parent and not the best friend…how the two cannot be similar. Well, maybe that is true is some situations as I know that all children are different but I do believe that the homeschooling mum can definitely be her daughter’s ‘besty’. Remember I have four other children and that includes our blended family.

Why does it have to be an either/either situation? Maybe it does and I am truly in a unique situation… but I know of others who are in similar situations like Pearls of Truth and her daughter.  Before she *graduated* my own mum was my best friend. She was and always will be my mother…but she was also one that I loved to share with, to listen to and to spend time with. She was a role model, an authority figure and my best friend. She had my heart. And I believe that’s the key. My daughter’s heart is turned toward me (and her father) so this allows me to be both to her. I guide her, instruct her, correct her, laugh with her, play with her, relax with her, pray with her, read God’s word with her and discipline her. She accepts it all  graciously (albeit eventually). ;)

We have an understanding that first and foremost I am her mother and this is my God given role…but that doesn’t mean that we can’t have other elements in our relationship. Naturally, this has changed with the age of my daughter. In the early years it was important to establish the boundaries and roles but as the young girls mature and develop to become young women (who are old enough to be married and running their own home but choose to remain at home until that time) I have found it important to accept the natural (creational principles) changes that different ages, stages and seasons bring. With God, all things are possible. There is balance to be found in His wisdom.

I hope no one would take this out of context and  become a liberal parent in the hopes of becoming their daughter’s ‘besty’. All family situations are different and each person should seek God and His word for the direction of their own family. If you have any queries on what I’ve written, don’t hesitate to write me or leave a comment.

What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with me? Are you your older daughter’s best friend? What activities do you enjoy doing together?

Some good links that I want to share…for the young unmarried ladies:

A Little Courtship Advice by Nancy Wilson and  Unmarried & Fruitful.


  1. I enjoyed this post Susan… immensely! You already know I agree with you, lol.

    When the child has a healthy respect toward the parent/s, it is easy to foster the friendship element to the relationship. I believe the respect paves the way for the child to give their heart freely. It also helps when they, the child, wants the same goals for their life that you, the parent wants. ie. the goals of Godliness; God-ordained plans etc.

    • It also helps when they, the child, wants the same goals for their life that you, the parent wants. ie. the goals of Godliness; God-ordained plans etc.

      Hi Amanda,
      Lovely to hear from you. Thanks for stopping by. Oh yes, you said it beautifully (why couldn’t I just succinctly say that?). Thanks! It *really* does help. In fact, I don’t think it’s wise to try and become best friends with a child whose heart is not lined up with the parents- that’s just trying to be ‘cool’, if you know what I mean.

  2. Good stuff Susan….My dd is only 13 but what you said has underscored what I’ve felt like the Lord has reminded me of frequently: Does she have my heart? And have I won hers?

    It all comes down to relationship, doesn’t it? :-)

    • Hi Theresa,
      Yes, it really does boil down to relationships- heart to heart relationships.

      Hi Therese, with an ‘e’
      Yes that is the hard part…finding the balance between not being gullible and trusting them, even if you know how a situation will lend but also knowing that it is a lesson that can be learned by them.

      No doubt, I believe, that the relationship does change as they get older. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. my two older girls are 14 and 12.

    I think I have a pretty good relationship with both of them and they are both comfortable coming to me and telling me about things in their life.

    I totally agree with you that you need to be a good friend to your daughter.

    I have seen some parents really damage relationships because they assume their child is always trying to deceive and manipulate situations. Assuming the worse seems to bring out the worse in children is what I have noticed in these situations.

    I think trusting teenagers but not being gullible is one of the hardest things a parent can do. It takes really knowing your child and having a good relationship with them from a young age.

  4. My mum was my best friend.. and the transition into adulthood was hard, because we both found love and marriage at the same time, so while I was focusing on my new relationship.. and needing my “best friend mum” she too was concentrating on her new focus, new marriage.

    But I’m so glad I had her as my best friend – because she’s still my beloved mum, and we have so many fun memories of my youth.. now I’m getting to be best-friending with my teen boys (not the same as a besty with a daughter I think) .. but I so LOVE my teens, they’re so cool – very interesting and passionate and – and they FILL my life with adventure.

    The best memories are.. we used to spend a Saturday afternoon at the mall, not even buying anything, just walking around talking, holding hands.. and we’d stop and get a cappuccino and carrot cake.

    She also came out with me to the bars with my friends on my 18th birthday – was one of the bunch… conversely, my dad who did not have my heart – was playing golf on my birthday.. oh, and on my graduation day too..

  5. Well my daughter is only 5, but I feel like she’s my best friend sometimes, and me hers. Just the other day, I said “when the boys are grown up and have left home, you and I will have to go travelling to Europe together”. Her little face lit up and she said “yeah”. Then she skipped a beat and said “What’s Europe”. :-) She cracks me up.

    I have a lovely relationship with my Mum now and I would say she is one of my best friends, but we had a very turbulent time when I was in my teens.

    I think it was because I didn’t feel like she spent time getting to know me as a person. She was very involved in the church, and all of the youth group thought she was this amazing person, but I didn’t see that or feel that myself. Perhaps that’s teenage angst, or perhaps it was just that we didn’t connect. She was too busy telling me what the rules were and expecting me to live by them – but not really connecting with me and understanding who I was or what I was going through at that stage of my life.

    I don’t even know if that makes sense?

    I do know that I want to do things differently with my own children. I am a lot more open and frank with them about things that my parents NEVER discussed or talked about.

    I think that’s what you’re trying say Susan about that balance between being a parent and guiding your children, but also being a friend who is there for them, and understanding of the issues they are dealing with? That’s certainly more how I want to be with my kids.

    Being a single Mum as well (although they have a great Dad involved in their lives too) has it’s challenges, and perhaps changes the dynamic a bit too – although I believe we’ve actually become closer since the separation, which has surprised me.

    Sorry for a bit of a rambling comment. It’s really good to be able to think about these sorts of things before we actually get to the teenage years.

    Fee x

    • Hi Sombra and thanks for stopping by. I’m always encouraged to hear of other daughters having good relationships with their mums. Sometimes I felt like an oddball when I was young- for having such a good relationship with my mum. Although like Fee I had some tumultuous times in my teen years. However, once I got over them and grew up a bit we became best of friends again.

      Hi Fee,
      Yeah I think it’s important to try and think ahead as much as possible. It’s like birth though- nothing other than the experience can fully prepare you…and even then I’m not prepared and need to fully rely on God. ;)

      Thanks for stopping by ladies!

  6. Oh Susan, this has made me think on so many different levels. When my older girls were young I had no problem being their mum and friend. They needed me, they loved me unconditionally, I played dolls with them and got down to their level. As they grew older they got closer with their own friends and needed me less. I always struggled with that stage becasue I “like” to be needed. As teenagers another thing happened………..they didn’t think I was so cool any more and everything I said to them was taken the wrong way! One daughter in particular rebelled against me in a big way. She didn’t want me as a friend or a mother! I had to step back, keep my mouth from saying things I knew should not be said, and allow my husband to step up and deal with many issues. Right up until her wedding day it was like this. Now she is married and our relationship is once again restored. Where does the Mother stop and the friend begin? I know my own mother wanted to share things with me that I didn’t want to hear! I didn’t want to know that her S**x life with Dad had gone downhill since his operation……P…leeze! She found it easier to be a friend than a mother and sometimes that was difficult for me, I wanted BOTH! With my own daughters there are things that I would never speak to them about. I think that they would not be able to cope with that, like I couldn’t cope when My mum spoke to me in that fashion. On the other hand, when my mum left my dad it came so out of the blue that I just hated her for it. What I realize now is that she had nobody to share with about just how unhappy she was at home. She didn’t just leave “suddenly” she left after being unhappy for years. Because she couldn’t share with me or my sister we just presumed everything was fine.
    Anyway, this has really given me something to chew on. I think there must be a balance somewhere in between, but then again is there?

    • Hi Jacqui,
      Yeah I believe there is balance somewhere but it eludes me most times. ;) I believe the balance is in the wisdom of God and in following *His* direction and dying to self, instead of following our own ‘wisdom’ or a book or a blog post ;D However, at times it’s easier said than done because we are not only dealing with our own self, ego, pride and weaknesses but also with another human!

      I have a very tumultuous relationship with one of my daughters and we are not best friends- not at all. (If she had it her way, I wouldn’t be in her life at all but that’s another story) yet my other daughter and I have a good relationship. I guess it isn’t about hard and fast rules where ‘one size fits all’. That’s where the daily, hourly leaning on God comes in. Oh God, give me strength…Lord, give me your wisdom, your grace, your patience.

      Thanks for sharing,

  7. Susan,
    I am with you! My MIL told me the same thing… You CAN’T be their friend… but that his hog-wash. It sounds like you have a great balance and I like how you said that you are a parent first but also her friend and she knows and respects that. I have that same relationship with my 15 year old son and am working on that with my now pre-teen daughter. If they can’t trust to come to us, who will they go to? I am scared to think!!!

    • Hi Amanda,
      Thanks for stopping by! Actually, from personal experience I can say, sadly, that if they cannot/ will not come to us then they WILL go to someone else- and that someone else is not really likely to be the most godly person. :( Yes, heart to hear parenting is different with boys and girls…but the essence (or gist ;) ) of the message is the same.

      Thanks all for your comments. I had hoped I didn’t sound like I was telling others what they should do, as if I had somehow arrived…because NOTHING could be further from the truth. As a parent I have failed and it is only by my heart’s desire and the grace of God that I have a relationship with my children. Dear mothers’, talk WITH your children. Listen to your children, play with them. Laugh with them and work with them…but listen to them. Don’t be too quick to offer correction to everything they may verbalise that doesn’t sit right with you. Keep a light heart and don’t bury the children with condemnation. Tell them God’s word…tell them of His wrath, His judgments but tell them of His grace and mercy.

  8. I just wanted to apologize for lurking on this one. I just know I am clueless on this topic, so although I’ve been reading, I dare not offer an opinion, lol!

    (mind, with four girls, you’d think any time soon would be a good time to form an opinion… )

    {eh! remembered to tick the box ;) }

  9. LOL, Mrs BB, God has a sense of humour doesn’t He?? He must think you could handle the privilege of being mum to 4!!! girls… and not to mention the nerves of steel your dh must have! But, He is merciful and He gave you 4 sweet, lovely ones… ;)

  10. LOL! That remains to be seen :P

    While I live in hope (that they will stay sweet, lovely ones) I kind of watch the oldest one as if one day she will wake up and turn into….. a teenager! I don’t feel ready…

  11. Hmmm, I have told all my children, and continue to, that there are two types in the world:

    One type are youth – young adults who are growing, developing, maturing and the second type is:

    the teenager.

    Both my 18yodd and 14yods see this term ‘teen’ as an insult and have no desire to labeled as one. ;-)

    Being a relatively modern term, I used to try to NOT use it at all…but it was just too hard. Now, I’ve simply clarified it in my mind and speech so my children firmly understand what I mean. I have taught them that the whole teen scene (expectations of teens, etc) are a fairly new phenomenon and one not to be proud of.

    However, despite a parents best intentions and teachings, sometimes, things go wrong.

  12. Don’t beat yourself up too much Susan. As far as I remember I never received a “How TO” manual when I birthed my children…..unless the midwife chucked it out with the placenta?
    Every child is different and as much as our parenting style might work with one child it doesn’t with another. The mother/daughter relationship has always been a difficult one. It is only now that I am older that I can see my mum’s point of view but as a young women I just thought she was an interfering women!
    Some children are more easily led than others and sometimes I think this is the key. My son seems to be attracted to the “naughty” boys at church and it is bothering me a lot. My daughters were quite the opposite. What do you do? How much do I intervene and how much do I trust him? This is an ongoing issue in our home right now. Nobody is perfect. I stopped reading some of the “famous” christian homeschool blogs a while ago because I was just left feeling condemned that my own family didn’t look like that.

    • Thanks Jacqui. Sorry it’s taken me so long to get back to my blog and respond…life has been a little overwhelming.

      I agree. Some children are more easily followers while some are leaders…but the funny thing is that I’ve noticed that it isn’t as cut & dried as many would have us believe. We always sensed that our Miss A was a natural leader yet she was easily given to peer pressure when she was younger. Oh boy, was I on my knees with her A LOT when she was younger. However now, she is very much developing into a natural (God-given) leader in most areas that she is involved in. She doesn’t try to lead- certainly not! But it’s just a character thing.

      Miss R, OTOH, as a youngster was very strong willed and one would not have had reason to believe that she would get sucked into peer pressure. WRONG! None of this parenting stuff can be summed up in neat little cliques. It has to be about relationship…and free will. Free will is also a part of it, although if one talks to many Christian homeschoolers one wouldn’t think so eh?

      How old is your son that is attracted to spending time with the ‘naught’ boys?

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