parent opinion

OPINION: People say parents shouldn't be best friends with their kids. I think they're wrong.

UNPOPULAR OPINION: my 13-year-old son, Winston, is one of my best mates.

It would make zero sense to me if he wasn’t, although I know many people feel strongly that parents can’t and shouldn’t be friends with their kids.

Parents of teenagers: translated. Post continues below.


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I saw a comment on social media the other day, about how parents shouldn't be best friends with their kids; that it places a "burden" on the child.

I beg to differ, and in fact argue that developing a friendship with your kid is an inherent part of parenting.

Winston cares about how my day was — it’s the first thing he asks when he hops into the car at school pick up. He’s my biggest champion, always on my side, and when I have exciting news, he’s the first person I want to tell. 

He also has wisdom way beyond his years; if I put a problem to him, he’s an amazing critical thinker. He’s the person who knows me the best in the world; the daily minutiae of my life, my worst habits.

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Winston looks after me when I’m unwell. We have so many private jokes between us, it’s not funny. We share a lot of what happens in our lives with each other. We LOVE to gossip about people together.

So that’s our relationship, and if you can’t see how that’s a best friend, your definition of one is something I don’t understand.

Of course, I’m Winston’s mum; I’m raising him (and doing a bloody good job as a sole parent). He has rules to obey, and boundaries to not cross. But doesn’t every relationship? It’s all about balance, and the importance of not expecting one person to be your everything (although I’m actually legally obliged to be such a person to Winston, until he’s 18 anyway).

I mean, it’s not like I’m debriefing about bad dates or sharing a bottle of wine with him. But I don’t do that with my mum, either, and she’s also one of my best friends.

What Winston and I have has naturally evolved, especially given our situation, and I don’t see an issue with it. In fact, it’s the biggest perk of parenthood that the person I love the most in the world is also one of my dearest friends.

If you think that puts an ‘unfair burden’ on him, you’re missing one of the main benefits of family. Winston and I are a family. And in happy, successful families, you’re also friends. It’s pretty much the entire premise of every sitcom (like Offspring) ever made.

Winston is not being ‘burdened’ — he’s learning how to love, respect and care about people. It’s my job to teach him those things, too; how to build strong, intimate, balanced and lasting relationships.

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My family – my three sisters and my mum – are my other best friends. They do for me everything that Winston does. They always have. So now that Winston is a teen and this is our relationship, why doesn’t he get to be included as a best friend of mine?

He’d actually be mortally offended if someone put to him that he wasn’t one of my best friends.

I know my mum would definitely count her daughters (me more than the others, obviously) as her best friends. And my mum is one of mine.

Sure, there’s a difference between adult relationships and those with a child who’s still being raised. But why can’t I raise Winston and have the benefits of friendship, too? 

The two aren’t mutually exclusive. In fact, I don’t see how you can have one without the other. 

The other thing to consider is that there are a million ways to be best friends with someone.

I have the BF who’s my oldest friend. The BF who’s become our family in Sydney. The BF from work. The BF who knew me when I was a very different person in my marriage. The BF who knows my family like I know theirs. 

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All of these people serve a role in my life, and they are vitally important to me in different ways as irreplaceable friends.

So too is Winston.

Winston has been my best friend since the day he was born. Our bond was strong, and immediate, even before it became just the two of us a decade ago. Back then, I proudly called him my little BFF (best friend forever) in my heart, and to anyone who would listen.

It was an expression of love, and still is. My friendship with Winston has evolved to be the best one I’ve ever had. He will always be my favourite best friend — long after I’m no longer his.

Nama Winston has had a decade-long legal career (paid), and a decade-plus parenting career (sadly unpaid). You can follow her on Instagram and  Facebook.

Feature image: Instagram/@namawinston

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