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Parents job is to discipline children, not be their friend.

I couldn’t disagree more. My children (aged 6 and 8) see me as a friend first. That said, they are clear when I switch to discipline mode. There is no liberty-taking or disrespect from them.

I shout less and we talk more. More often than not, they understand what they’ve done wrong through reflection and discussion.

Mutual respect is essential. I respect them, they respect me.

I respect their individuality and independence as they grow and develop. They respect my authority and decision-making, with one caveat – that I take the time to explain the ‘why’ behind my decision.

If the issue is urgent and I have to issue an order, my children trust that I will explain the ‘why’ later. Explaining decisions is not about justifying myself, it’s about developing their own understanding of decision-making. In doing so, I also get their buy-in and their acceptance of my decisions.

My children are comfortable enough to come to me with issues before they become problems. They seek advice on friends issues or school problems or anything they need help with. My son affectionately lists me in his top 5 friends, and that’s in spite of the tellings off, the groundings (from TV or Nani’s phone games), and the time-outs… he trusts me, and understands my reasons, so begrudgingly agrees with the punishments, waiting them out gracefully.

I give my children honest, positive and constructive feedback. They do the same to me, in full confidence that I will listen and act upon it.

A case in point, last week my son came to me when I was cooking and said he had something he wanted to talk to me about. He asked when we could sit down, without distractions and have a private chat. I told him once I’d finished cooking, I had a few emails to send and then would be distraction-free. I put my laptop away, phone on silent, and we sat down to talk, as promised.

The issue was that he felt that I had spent a lot of one-to-one time with his sister that weekend, and less with him. As it happens, I am very aware of both of my children needing one-to-one time, and although I had spent equal time with him, he hadn’t felt it. It is almost irrelevant whether I spent the same time with him. What mattered was that he felt I hadn’t and wanted more time with me.

I told him that I understood how he felt and hadn’t meant to cause any inequality. We then arranged a few days that week where I would come home from work on time and have a playdate with each other. Work deadlines can be busy, but when I make these plans with my children, they are firm committments, so I treat them as hard deadlines. I make sure that I follow through. If you miss it one time, you break that trust and it takes a long time to rebuild it.

We have a strong bond. One that I value highly but it takes work, and boy oh boy, it really is tough some days. Nonetheless, the time spent working with the children on their self awareness and self improvement really is worth it for our rich and happy family life.