He is not my friend

A pet peeve of mine is children and parents describing their relationship as a ‘friendship’.

I’m in my 50’s and I am aware it may be a generational thing as I hear it an awful lot from younger parents – and I appreciate that I may well be a bit of a ‘Dinosaur’, but never the less I can’t stop myself from wincing internally every time I hear a parent describe their child as ‘my best friend’ or vice versa.

I understand that it is often just terminology and not literal, but regardless for me there are such clear distinctions between being a parent and a friend that even casually blurring the lines feels wrong.

Personally I feel that getting on with your child, having a wonderfully close relationship, sharing certain interests, being able to open up and share your feelings with them and encourage them to share theirs with you is not friendship – it is just good parenting.

So it is somewhat ironic that I quite regularly hear my 8 year old son declare that my partner is ‘not my friend anymore ‘ when he is angry or upset with him.

It usually follows a reprimanding of said son and no doubt my partner having raised his voice – which our son always struggles to cope with as he immediately perceives it as a sign that the security he has with us is under threat.

He is comfortable using the word ‘love’ and he declares his love for us daily – as of course we do to him – and I know for sure that he sees us as his parents , yet I question if he truly feels it 100% and understands yet that it is forever.

And maybe that is where the idea of a ‘friendship’ with us comes from, I guess it’s easier for him to relate to the word ‘friend’ and to see his relationship with us as such – even though we have never suggested anything of the sort.

I think that even with the constant assurance of our love he is confused by our anger when it arises and he sees it as being decidedly ‘unfriendly’.

I’ll let it go – for now – and as he grows and settles more and more I will hope that it will slowly disappear. If not and he continues to see us as friends then I’ll accept that and even consider it to be an achievement under the circumstances. However, rest assured he will never hear me using it in return.


Dear Daughter: Jelly arms

jelly-37810_640Dear daughter,

Granted, I am quite a bit older than you and that I am not as firm as I once was… Yes, I know that you do spend a fair amount of time in the car being shuttled around and you don’t make much of a fuss about it, and there’s not always that much to look at; but I’d like you to know – in the kindest possible way – that it is not necessary to remind me on each and every journey, that as I drive over speed bumps, holes in the road, etc, that the skin on my arms and legs “wobbles about like a jelly”. I realise that you think it’s hilarious and something you feel I need to know about but I’m here to tell you that I’m happy enough not hearing about it….OK? Good. Glad we’ve got that sorted now.

Being Older

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Adopting in my 50’s means that there is little doubt that I am an older (and the ‘er is me being kind to myself) parent.

Being an older parent has made me acutely aware of the negatives that age has wrought on my body, aware of every ache and every pain and aware of my inability to run and jump and play with my sons for long periods – as I would have been so capable of even a decade ago.

Being older I no longer have the energy levels or indeed the enthusiasm to be a constant and active part in my sons fun and games. I now have a need for ‘down times’ to reenergise and to deal with the stresses of the day – which is very frustrating when it clashes with when my sons are eager to play. In fact there is a need for quiet in general in my life now – even though that is pretty impossible with two young sons bouncing around the house.

Being older means that I am not remotely in touch with the ‘youth culture’ that my sons are just tapping into, I have never been into computer games or the like, I have never followed sport and even current music – that used to be a constant in my life – has now been replaced with talk radio.

Put simply I am aware that I can not give them the kind of parenting I would have been able to when I was younger and fitter.

Also –

Being older I have to accept the sad reality that my sons will possibly not have me in their lives that far into their adulthood and I have to face the fact that I will probably not be there for important adult milestones. I am assuming I will be for there to see them graduate, to become adults, but will I be there if the marry or have children? More importantly, will I be there for them when they need me for significant adult decisions or situations that they struggle to face alone, times when even though we are adults we turn to our parents to help us make sense of the world and the difficulties it can throw at us?

Being older I have focused on these negatives that my age brings to my parenting and I have worried about how it affect my sons now and how it will do so throughout their lives.

Yet –

Being older means that I have a maturity and wisdom that I can bring to my parenting. I think it has been especially valuable in helping me identify and to understand our sons needs, to help me learn how to deal with issues (especially trauma related issues) in a way that I would have struggled to get to grips with in my younger days.

Being older means that I now have a fuller perspective on what it means to be a parent, I think I see a bigger picture as I am no longer distracted by things that meant so much more to me in the past than they do now.

Being older means that I had already settled into a ‘comfortable’ more sedate life. I had already stopped the partying and I am now far more contented with family nights in front of TV and going to bed early – in a way that I never could have been previously.

Being older means that I do not feel like I am missing out, I feel like I have ‘been there and done that’ and I am happy to see others living the life I used to lead without feeling remotely envious.

Being older means that I have a long history with my partner (now in our third decade), it means that we are not working on our relationship with the intensity that is required for newer couples – especially when faced with difficulties. We are able to face the challenges adoption has brought to our partnership with more self assurance and a greater sense of security than younger relationships possibly offer.

Being older means that I am more financially secure which results in me not having to parent around the worry and stress that month to month budgeting can bring to a family. It means that our family has the luxury of a stay-at-home parent and it means that we are able to give our sons experiences that we would not have been able to a decade or so ago, experiences that they clearly learn from and which are of great value to them and indeed to us as a family, experiences that they clearly get great joy and happiness from.

Being older means that my life is far more established and that as a consequence I have time, more time to focus on my sons and on my family, more time to make it all work.

Actually – *****

Being older and coming to parenting so late has worried me greatly.

Being older very nearly stopped me from adopting and it was a huge consideration at the time.

Being older almost prevented my boys from having a forever family, at 5 and 6 they too were (rather ironically) seen as ‘older’ and being siblings and having attachment issues they were difficult to place, it has been stated that we were a last opportunity of adoption for them.

Being older almost stopped my world from being filled with a happiness and a love that transcends anything I could ever have imagined.

So –
On reflection I guess I can see that my worrying was in vain – as surely the positives so greatly outweigh the negatives.

There is no perfect age to be a parent – I guess no matter what age, we all just have to make sure that we try to excel in what we can. Isn’t that the best any parent can do?