Later is Longer

scan053IMG_4566These days, there seems to be a noticeable trend of parents leaning toward becoming best friends with their kids, rather than really parenting. One case in particular was pretty extreme. I watched with mouth agape as one high school girl’s mom leaned WAY in this direction. Not only did she try to be best buddy to her daughter, she tried to BE a teenager herself. The result was not pretty. There was little discipline, and the absence of rules made for quite a fun environment . . . for a while.

As things began to progress, it seemed the parent-child roles actually reversed. The daughter began feeling the weight of being responsible for her mom. Her mom’s incessant “best friend-ness” and clinginess began to push the daughter away. By the end of high school, there was so much dysfunction and emotional stress that the daughter couldn’t wait to get out of there!

The mother-daughter friendship that should naturally be there now, in the post-high school years, is sadly missing and may never return. What she thought she was gaining, this mom actually lost.

A funny thing happened in me, though. As I began judging the people and the situation, and being impressed with my sweet parenting skills, I realized that the tug in that direction is very real for me too. I really want my kids to want to be with me. I desire to be viewed as a cool mom by their friends. I’m tempted to buy things and give too much in pursuit of teenage approval. It’s real, and it’s not pretty in me either.

So, what’s a mom to do? Renew the mind. Rethink It. Actually, renewing the mind is something that I have to do on so many levels, in so many different areas of my life, so very often.

The world seems to naturally draw us toward parenting in a way that will give us immediate gratification and keep us from the uncomfortable, and maybe less peaceful, parenting that brings ultimate friendship with our kids.

As parents, we must take advantage of our gained perspective that allows us to see what’s best for our kids, even when they can’t. We can see beyond temporary happiness to a life of potentially enormous joy. We can see beyond the pain of discipline to the possibility of a future that is richer because lessons were learned early. We can be true friends to our kids in their adult years because we chose to be true parents to them in their childhood.

So, the next time you feel the tug, the pull, the pushback from administering discipline, foregoing the punishment, or even pretending not to see an infraction, pause to regain the big picture. When you feel compelled to impress their friends, buy their approval, or behave in ways that send wrong messages, remember that you are, first and foremost, the parent. Friendship later will be so much greater. And, later is longer!


  1. Legenia Smith says

    I am so glad you wrote this.. I struggle with it often! I think it is often the respect thing that gets me. If I am to much of a friend then they loose the respect that they have for me. Parenting is hard at any level…!!

  2. Tifani Thompson says

    In my previous years teaching third grade, I was already seeing these heartbreaking trends developing.:(:(:( In Future Family you and Pastor Andy shared 4 very insightful stages of parenting. My husband and I have loved sharing those stages with those around us, and he has had great conversations about these critical stages with men he works with. Our consistent hard hard work of applying these stages, creates such an easy-ness to life,,,,it’s so neat!

    As you also discussed on Future Family,,,,”enjoyable adult relationships with our children”,,,,is the goal me and my husband strive for!! So special and so rewarding!

    Later is Longer!!!!:):) I really enjoyed this reading! Thank you!

    I love those overalls your kids are wearing. So precious!

  3. Erin says

    Hi Sandra! I have a question that maybe you could answer via email…I am a young mom of a 2 year old and a 6 month old. I am struggling at balancing my family duties and having time for friendships. I am so exhausted at the end of my days I really don’t want to talk/text/email with anyone. I just want to veg out. I have guilt that I am not staying in “community” yet confusions as to if it is still godly to close off to your own family during certain seasons of life. I know that my friends feel like the have the shaft but after I invest in my husband and kids as I desire to and feel is best, I have little left to offer. Can you speak to this? The guilt is in both situations and I just want to do the right thing.

    • Tifani Thompson says

      Hi Erin,
      I’m just a little season ahead of you and just wanted to send you a short message.:):) Pastor Andy and Sandra are on both the ‘Guardrails’ and ‘Future Family’ series. You have got got got to watch them! You will be overwhelmed with encouragement as a wife and mother. You will love hearing about their Nehemiah 6:3 mantra that they applied and apply in their life. We have also adopted their mantra, and our lives are just being so blessed. Oh….it’s so good! You can watch these series from the Northpoint websight, or you can order the dvd’s of these series. We have had so much fun sharing these series with so many around us. So uplifting, so encouraging, and so full of awesome wisdom! You keep focusing on your sweet babies and family!

  4. says

    I think its pathetic when mom’s try and be their daughter or son’s friend and talk about situations and try to be “cool” in the teens eyes. Usually it is “cool” when you are a teenager for a short time and then its really sad. My son is 12 so I will need to remember this in years to come.
    I had a friend whose mother would talk to us about sex like she was a experienced teenager. Not only was it sad, it was hurtful to her 15 year old daughter who needed her mom to teach her how to respect herself and not treat something so casually. Everything about that way of parenting is wrong and actually not parenting at all. Yuck!

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