I've heard it said hundreds of times: "I'm not her friend, I'm her mom." And I've had it directed to me nearly every moment I've been too relaxed with my daughter: "She doesn't need a friend, she needs a parent."
The idea behind that statement — that children require more from their parents than just another playmate — made sense, I suppose, but it always rubbed me the wrong way. Is it so bad if I foster a good relationship with my kids as I do with every single one of my meaningful friendships? Why was that off limits?
Destini Ann assured me — and her 715,000 followers on TikTok — that it's not only OK to be my child's friend, but she also perfectly outlined the reasons it's so important for all parents to foster a friendship with their little ones.
"How can I respectfully discipline you if we don't have a foundation of connection? How can you come to me when you are struggling with something if we don't have a foundation of trust?"
"Seriously, though, why would you not want to be your child's friend? Friendship is about intimacy, listening, accountability, responsibility, growing together," Destini said in one of her many peaceful parenting videos. "You think I'm going to give all that fun away to the other 8-year-olds on the block?! I want in on that."
She continued: "How can I respectfully discipline you if we don't have a foundation of connection? How can I create peace in our home if we don't have a foundation of intimacy? How can you come to me when you are struggling with something if we don't have a foundation of trust?"
For those naysayers who worry that such a relationship is too informal, that it loosens important boundaries, or that it'll create kiddos who don't respect their parents, Destini made it clear being a friend and parent are not mutually exclusive.
"I know that I'm Mommy — I'm the emergency contact," she said. "But I also know that this journey is so much smoother when I meet you where you're at, and you're a child. So I can come down there with you. I can play with you, I can laugh with you, I can joke with you, I can experience life with you and still discipline you, still teach you, still coach you. I can do both."
This mom clearly can do both, and now thanks to her perspective, many other parents — myself included — will realize that they can, too. So, kids, as Destini ended her video, "let's be friends!"