Now quite often what is called a role change occurs when parents expect the child to fill their emotional vacuum, lack of sincere cordial communication. Although this can happen in any family, it is most often found in single-parent families.
Some single parents establish relationships with their teens similar to trusting relationships between friends or colleagues. This is because they have no one to share their adult problems with.
Due to loneliness, dissatisfaction, depression or other problems, single parents sometimes simply can not treat their teens as peers. They want to entrust their children with personal problems that they are not yet ready to comprehend. Such parents strive to become “best friends” of their children, instead of establishing normal relationships for them.
I had to observe the extreme manifestations of such an aspiration. Jim was 16 years old, but he often got drunk in a bar with his father. Although this was due to the fact that the father had no friends, the father himself thought that in this way he “makes a real man out of his son.”
Julia’s mother, in order to be able to meet her friend more often, asked him to bring a friend for her daughter too. These, of course, are extremes, but, nevertheless, such forms of relationships with adolescents are far from rare. For example, parents often complain to a teenager about how they are alone, unhappy, depressed, how they are being treated unfairly. Then they cease to fulfill their role, because it is the parents who must satisfy the psychological needs of the child or adolescent, and not vice versa. And if there is a change of roles, this only brings harm, interfering with the natural development of the teenager.
We, parents, regardless of whether we have a wife (husband) or not, should always be just parents, that is, to be a support for our teenagers. If we change this natural state of affairs and demand emotional support from them, we will harm them and destroy our relationship. We need to seek support for ourselves anywhere, but not in our children.
I myself never liked being a model for anyone, and especially for my children. When they were teenagers, I was tempted to treat them as peer friends, but I did not dare. Yes, I was kind and friendly with them, I liked to play, have fun with them. Sometimes I even spoke with them about some personal problems, but only for the purpose of developing their intelligence, and not for my own benefit, not in order to shift my problems to them. I did not forget that I am their father and they need me to be an authority for them, directing them in life, so that they have someone to follow. If I ceased to fulfill my fatherly duties and did not set an example for them, however, like Pat (after all, she too should have been a model for them), then my children would not be happy. And in such cases, they feel unprotected and easily succumb to evil influence.
As parents, we do not have the right to use our children or teenagers as the very vest that we can cry into, that is, as advisers or colleagues. Of course, we can ask their opinions or advice if this is not done with the aim of passing decision-making on them or receiving emotional support from them. We cannot ask them to alleviate our suffering. It is also impossible to be constantly strict with adolescents, especially if we are psychologically dependent on them and need their emotional support.
Our first parental responsibility is to make our children feel dearly loved; the second duty is to be authority for them and to educate them with love.