Rejecting my position as an authority figure
Yesterday I spent the whole day with my daughter.
We drove around doing errands and some shopping.
A Relationship Filled With Ease
The whole time we had a natural
rhythm to our conversation.
There was an ease in our interaction.
There was a mutual care for each other’s well-being.
There was lots of fun and laughter.
My kid is now 18 and a half years old.
Having this kind of relationship with her
is probably the most valuable thing in my life.
It fills me with so much joy.
Feeling Deep Gratitude
When we got home in the evening
I reflected on our time together.
I felt so grateful.
Relating As Equals
The quality of our relationship has developed
and deepened over the years.
One of the main reasons we are so close
is because I have always worked hard
to not hold any authority over my daughter.
We relate to each other with
no hierarchical separation between us.
The idea of authority is one thing I was
very careful about as my daughter was growing up.
I Refused to be an Authority Figure in her life
I chose to be a friend,
a willing student…
In our interaction yesterday
I could really see the effects of this.
She felt she could be herself
She knows she doesn’t have to
act a certain way to gain my approval.
This is one of the main messages
I have always worked at making sure she knew,
that I accepted her unconditionally.
I accept all of who she is.
The light and the dark.
I did my best to be a good friend to her.
Though I focused on
friendship based parenting
I am still her dad.
Being a friend does not mean
I abandoned my role as a father.
I am a source of wisdom and comfort for her.
I am a foundation of safety and strength that she knows she can rely on.
She comes to me for counsel when she is unsure about a big decision.
I don’t make the decision for her.
Instead I offer her things to think about when making the decision.
I also stand by her regardless of the decision she makes.
The beautiful thing is that, in her way
she does all these things for me as well.
We are learning partners.
She knows I listen to her and respect her
At one point yesterday we were speaking to someone
and they mentioned that they don’t always
take what teens say seriously.
I said that I always listen to teens.
My daughter spoke up and said:
“Well I’m the main teen you interact with and you always listen to me.”
This showed me how deeply she feels my respect.
I was calm on the outside, but jumping up and down with joy on the inside.
Parenting as equals is a tremendous challenge
It hasn’t always been easy,
parenting without authority.
To parent as an equal.
To always use communication instead of control.
So much of my programming goes against it.
Both my personal experience as a kid,
as well as generations societal norms
around how to treat kids.
It can be a constant inner battle
to do things that are so against the grain.
And I wouldn’t have it any other way.