Monday, February 16, 2009

Family and Friendship

Gathering At the Well

I'm sure we've all heard the old wives' tale in regards to being a parent, “You can’t be friends with your child if you wish to parent them.” I've heard it many times and never really taken the time to consider it before.

I guess I probably thought it was true in light of my own childhood. My parents were either my friend, or my parent, but never both at the same time. I knew the days I was a close confidant or a buddy, and I knew the days I was just a child to be disciplined and kept in my place.

Today At the Well, we are discussing friendship within the family. We are taking a look at the phrase in Titus 2:4, "to love their husbands."

I obtained a new perspective of the verse when Amy revealed that the original word used for "love" is derived from Philos, which means to love in the sense of to be friends with. It means, “friend, to be friendly to one, wish him well.” This is different from the “love” of John 13:34, Agapao, which means "to welcome, to entertain, to be fond of, to love dearly.” The same can be said of the phrase "love their children."

The more I pondered this, the more I could picture friendship and parenting marching hand in hand. Here are just a few of the characteristics the Bible attributes to a friend.

What is a Friend?

Someone you trust and share with ~Psalms 41:9
Always loves you ~ Proverbs 17:17
Sticks with you ~ Proverbs 18:24
Gives you good counsel ~ Prov 27:9
Helps you up when you've failed ~ Ecc 4:10
Would give their life for you ~ John 15:13
Shares with you ~ John 15:15

When I think of my dearest friends, I know they are always available when I am in need. I am certain they will tell me when I'm out of line, as they want the best for me. They encourage me to grow. My closest friends are not afraid to be honest with me. They recognize my failures, but also encourage me to learn from them and move past them. They cheer on my victories, big and small. They even stand up for me when others attack.

Who wouldn't want a parent who does all that? If I'm being totally transparent here, then I have to tell you I would have given up my closest childhood friend to have my parents "parent me" like this. Unconditional love....someone I could trust and openly share my feelings with....not berating me, but helping me up when I fail.

I think the idea that we can't be a parent and a friend at the same time comes from a non-Biblical view of what a friend is.

Being a friend does not necessarily mean being an equal. I have friends I look up to for advice, and friends I feel more often I have something to impart. I love both kinds: the kind I can sow into and the kind I can learn from. I have some friends I can share my worst details with, and other relationships where that wouldn't be appropriate.

"As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend." Proverbs 27:17

And being a friend doesn't mean you let the person get away with wrong behavior for the sake of keeping peace in the friendship. That is not what Proverbs 27:17 is talking about when it says, "As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend." Just as you use a metal tool to sharpen a knife blade, it takes a substance of similiar strength and durability to handle the friction required to sharpen an object. A true friend is strong enough to stand up for what is right.

I love that I had the opportunity to study this today. I had always assumed I would have to choose between being a parent and a friend as my kids got older. Right now while my girls are young, it is natural to be a friend and playmate. I was dreading the day when I would have to abandon that to become "THE PARENT." I am excited to know that God has commanded us to love them with a friendship kind of love all along the way.


Yolanda said...


I have a strong feeling that you are going to be The Perfect parent for your two lovely daughers, because you are learning to do it God's way.


Melanie said...

Thank you so for such a beautiful post! I've struggled with knowing the right balance on this issue, but you've given me a whole new way in which to view the matter.


Have a great Monday!

LAURIE said...

There are times that we have to put on the hat of "discipline" but when done in love, trust and honesty - being friends with our children is only a blessing that comes from being a faithful parent. My kids are older now, when they were young they did not always like me saying "no" to them but now that they are older - they thank us for it.

Elizabeth said...

I love that flower picture! This is a healthy kind of relationship -being a friend AND a parent. This is what I pray I will have with my boys, that we can learn from each other! Great post!

Linda said...

I am so happy to find your definition of friend in the Bible. A lovely post.

a woman found said...

Rebecca that was a wonderful post! I love all those verses. I'm gonna have to keep track of your blog :)

thanks for stopping by today too,

Deb said...

I have to admit, when my 2 were younger, being a mom/friend was much easier. As they've gotten older (son 16 & daughter 18) it's gotten tougher. Now that DD is 18, we are back on the mom/friend track. Although between 14 and 17, I wondered if we'd make it.
DS is now 16 and it finds us butting heads a lot of days. I stay in an attitude of prayer (ashamedly mixed with some anger) but I've seen God faithful before, and I'm sure He'll do it again.
Thanks for your comment and LOVE your blog!!

Life by the Handful said...

What a great post! I never thought friendship and parenting could go together because of the issue of equality, I'm so glad you addressed that point. It will be nice to have these scriptures to use as guidance when dealing with my children and friends.

Silver Sunbeam said...

Thanks for the comment over on my blog, Rebecca. It never occurred to me (not being a mom) that there would be a switch between "playmate" and "the Parent." It totally explains that weird point in JR High when my friends felt -very suddenly- that their parents became horrible, controlling monsters. Where'd mom go???

Amy Bayliss said...

I wish you could have heard me shouting "Amen!" to my computer just now! This is probably my favorite response so far. You nailed it! I mean, you have resonated with everything He has been showing me lately. Preach, Girl!

Sherry said...

Great post! You definitely hit the proverbial "nail on the head" with this post! Thank you for sharing your heart! You have a beautiful family!


Patty Wysong said...

What a wonderful post! It really showed me some neat things. Thank you!

Jenileigh said...

Having an 18 yo and a 13yo I can say that this reads beautifully and is a dream of mine.

My husband has always been one to quote that we are their parents and not their friend. Me I always tried to be the friend, the confidant. I can say that while I cherish the memories of being friends, my girls did become confused. They have and are trying to override my authority because somehow along the way I've lost their respect. My husbands says this is because I tried so hard to be their friend. I'm not the perfect mother and my girls are not the perfect children. They manipulate and deceive at times to get their own ways. Even trying my best to teach them biblically, they are saved and have their own relationship with God, I still see failures and mistakes. Teaching and steering their flesh is still a very hard thing to do.

I pray the Lord gives you revelation and some pointers that you can continue to share with us to make this hard road more easily traveled. I loved reading this, I myself am just at a loss in how to bring it to pass!

Big Hugs!