Should Parents Be Friends With Their Child? Being a Permissive Parent

Medically reviewed by Jobelle Ann Dela Cruz Bigalbal, MD · General Practitioner

Written by Louise Nichole Logarta · Updated Jul 14, 2022

    Should Parents Be Friends With Their Child? Being a Permissive Parent

    Parent-child relationships are paramount to a child’s healthy development. In positive relationships, kids learn and understand emotions, and how to relate to others and the world around them in an appropriate manner. Parents and children who have open communication tend to have a secure attachment, while parents who may not be so open deprive their child of opportunities to learn about emotions and such. As the child grows, the nature of their relationship changes, which begs the question: “Should parents be friends with their child?”

    Should parents be friends with their child: Some say parents cannot be their child’s friend

    Experts suggest that parents should not try to be their child’s friend. Those who characterize themselves as such may hit roadblocks in enforcing rules that the children may not necessarily like.

    This is called a permissive parenting style. This type of parent often sees their child as their equal, being averse to imposing limits or rules on them. They resort to:

    • Gift-giving
    • Bribery
    • Rarely saying “no” to their child

    In this type of parenting, children are free to make their own decisions without any regulation or guidance from the parent or caregiver.

    Setting boundaries

    For some, friendship connotes a relationship in which nobody has authority. However, based on research, children are more likely to develop and thrive when their parents show affection and apply age-appropriate boundaries to their child’s behaviors. There is also evidence which associates permissive parenting to poor self-control on the child’s part. In a study of African-American adolescents, children who described their parents as permissive were more likely to say that they would use violence in conflicts.

    Children will also be negatively affected should parents be friends with their child, especially if friendship connotes treating children as “adult therapists.” In a study focused on adolescent daughters of divorced parents, the children felt psychological distress when their parents burdened them with confessions of personal problems and even negative feelings about their ex-partners. These confessions were also shown not to contribute to feelings of closeness between mothers and daughters.

    Should parents be friends with their child: Limits are the key to a healthy parent-child friendship

    However, there are ways by which parents can befriend their child and still be a responsible adults.

    Should parents be friends with their child, they must establish household rules. There must be consequences for rules that are not obeyed, teaching them to become accountable for their actions. Although this may be challenging at first, the child will ultimately benefit from being in a family that sets rules to keep them safe.

    Should parents be friends with their child: How parents can form good relationships with their child

    Being present

    Parents must first lay the groundwork for a healthy relationship by being present in the moment. This entails checking in and making yourself aware of the goings-on in your child’s life. This conveys to your child that you care about them and their interests. Concrete actions to achieve this include:

    • Listening to your child
    • Engaging in conversations with your child
    • Avoiding micro-managing
    • Discerning your child’s behavior and what it means

    Quality time

    Quality time is necessary, should parents be friends with their child. Another important element is spending time together. This allows both you and your child the opportunity to get to know each other, and share one another’s experiences, thoughts, and feelings.. The way a parent and child spend quality time will vary among families.

    Trust and respect

    An essential aspect of a positive relationship is trust and respect. You can do this by being there for your child when they need help or guidance, fulfilling your promises or commitments to them, showing up for events that are important to your child (such as games, performances or special occasions) and listening to your child’s feelings, and respecting their opinions.

    Key Takeaways

    Experts say that it is natural for a parent to want to be “everything” for their child. However, it is a parent’s primary task to make sure their child develops well physically, as well as emotionally and intellectually. They are able to do so most effectively by setting boundaries but still valuing their child’s personalities, thoughts, opinions, and feelings. Parents must serve as their child’s “anchor” and reach their full potential.

    Learn more about Parenting here.


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Jobelle Ann Dela Cruz Bigalbal, MD

    General Practitioner

    Written by Louise Nichole Logarta · Updated Jul 14, 2022


    Was this article helpful?