Think you're your kid's best buddy? Think again. You're not a friend; you're a parent. And that's what your child needs and wants you to be. You can't simultaneously be a pal and tell your kids what they can and can't do.
Parents need to be teachers, leaders, providers and disciplinarians. That's as it should be, since kids rely on parents to take care of them. Sure, it's no fun being the rules police, especially when you've only got a few hours each day to spend with your child. But children want parents to be in charge, despite what they say to the contrary, or how many times they tell us that all their friends' parents are more fun than we are.
Guilt is often a driving factor behind acting like your child's friend instead of the parent. Kids know how to leverage that guilt to get parents to do what they want. They'll twist the guilt knife with comments like, "If you were really my friend, you'd . . ." or "If you let me do this, I'll love you." When this happens, the relationship is upside down. Your child has taken control, and you've lost your parental authority.
Remember your ultimate goal: raising your child into the world as a responsible, successful, independent adult. Active parenting, with all the rules, discipline and the occasional "absolutely not," are all part of reaching that goal.
There is an upside to being a parent instead of a friend. When children respect their parents' authority, they have confidence in their parents' ability to keep them safe and provide good guidance. They're also more willing to respect other authority figures, like grandparents and teachers.