Skip to main content

Being a parent vs a friend

parents spending time with their children

Being a parent is one of the most rewarding but also challenging roles in life. As parents, we have the responsibility to not only keep our children safe and healthy but also to guide them through their early years and prepare them for adulthood. One of the key decisions parents face is whether to be a friend or a parent our toddlers. While both roles are important, they are not interchangeable, and it is crucial to understand the differences between the two. There are benefits to both approaches, but it's important to understand the differences and consider what's best for your child.

What does it mean to be a friend versus a parent?

Being a friend to your toddler means that you prioritise their happiness and try to meet their every desire. You might avoid discipline and instead focus on being their playmate, sharing their interests, and having fun together. Being a parent, on the other hand, means that you prioritise your child's well-being and development. This involves setting boundaries, providing structure and discipline, and making decisions based on what's best for your child's long-term growth and success. 

As parents, our primary role is to provide structure and instil discipline in our children. This means setting boundaries, enforcing rules, and teaching them right from wrong. We are responsible for keeping our children safe, healthy, and happy, and this requires making decisions that are in their best interest, even if they are not always the most popular.

Being a parent is preparing our children for the future. While toddlers may not understand the long-term consequences of their actions, as parents, we can help them develop skills and values that will serve them well as they grow older. This may involve teaching them how to share, communicate, and problem-solve, or modelling healthy habits such as exercise, healthy eating, and self-care. By being positive role models and providing guidance, we are helping our children develop the skills and confidence they need to succeed in life.

While being a friend to your toddler may sound appealing, it's important to recognise that children need structure and guidance to thrive.  Being a friend to your toddler involves being someone they can trust and rely on. You are there to provide emotional support, encouragement, and a listening ear. You can play with your child, have fun with them, and create a bond that is built on mutual trust and respect.

As a friend, we can also help our children develop important social skills. We can encourage them to make friends, play cooperatively, and develop empathy and kindness towards others.


Toddlers are still learning about the world around them and need boundaries to help them understand what's safe, appropriate, and acceptable behaviour. Without clear boundaries, toddlers may struggle to regulate their emotions and behaviour, leading to frustration, anxiety, and other issues. As parents, we have the responsibility to set those boundaries and help our children navigate the world in a safe and healthy way.

However, being a parent doesn't mean that you can't have a close and loving relationship with your child. In fact, many parents find that they develop a stronger bond with their child when they prioritise their child's well-being and provide guidance and structure. By showing your child that you care about their happiness and success, you're building a foundation of trust and love that will last a lifetime.

While both roles are important, being a parent is the primary responsibility when it comes to raising a child. However, that doesn't mean you can't have a close relationship with your child built on friendship. The key is to strike a balance between the two.

For example, when it comes to setting boundaries and enforcing rules, it is essential to be firm but fair. This means setting clear expectations and consequences, but also explaining why those rules are in place and being consistent in enforcing them. But at the same time, it's important to build a close relationship with your child. This means spending quality time with them, listening to their thoughts and feelings, and showing them that you love and care for them.

Being a parent versus a friend to your toddler is a decision that requires careful consideration. While it may be tempting to prioritize your child's happiness in the moment, it's important to remember that children need guidance and structure to thrive. By being a parent, we are preparing our children for the future and helping them develop the skills and values they need to succeed in life.  By providing guidance, setting boundaries, and showing your child that you care, you're building a strong foundation of trust and love that will last a lifetime.

Xx Cara

Continue reading

Ooly owl toddler clock / sleep training clock glowing red

Nightlights - the when, why and how

Navigating the Rolling milestone

Navigating the Rolling milestone

Cheeky toddler, parents creating boundaries, toddler sleep

Why setting boundaries for your toddler is a GOOD thing!

Get 10% OFF
Sign up now to get access to exclusive discount
Subscribe Now!