About three years ago, my children (then eleven, nine, and six) sat at the bar while I tidied up the kitchen. I am a single mom practically every weekend, and they were begging me to take them ice skating. My fourth was a three-month-old, and my vision narrowed as I thought about all I needed to accomplish.

“I’m sorry, guys. I don’t think that will work out.”

Olivia proclaimed boldly, “Then I won’t be your friend anymore.”

“Well,” I explained, “I’m okay with that. See, I am not your friend. I am your mother.”

She bawled. She was devasted. “You’re not our friend!” Turning to her brothers, she repeated “She’s not our friend?” The boys faces reflected a look of, “Should I be upset about this? Should I care????”

I said, “Look, Olivia, of course I love you, but I can’t parent you based on a nine-year-old’s brownie system. I am training you to be a good friend, a good employee, and a good wife and mother some day. One day when you are older, we will be friends, but today I am not your friend.” We look back on that conversation now and laugh because she understands what I was talking about.

I have friends who try hard to be their teenagers’ friends and relive or live varcariously through their children’s popularity. Haven’t we already gone through this type of loss of identity and search for who we are in our teens? We need to be aware and reminded of our roles as moms in a world full of false confidence. This kind of parenting only brings with it the kind of dissing and smart-aleck remarks we used to give one another as kids. I’m always in for a good laugh, but being respected my kids feels far more rewarding.

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