Saturday, April 30, 2011

Friendship - and other boats that sink when there are many people involved

I often have long talks with my kids.  Someone said to me one time, “You need to be the parent to your kids, not their friend”. 

That’s idiotic. 

Of course I want to be my kids’ friend.  I often think, about the good friends I have had, haven’t they always told me when I have done something stupid – or ignorant, or thanked me when I helped out. Haven’t they taught me boundaries in our relationships?  Being a parent gives me the opportunity to showcase to my child exactly what the best type of friendship should look like, and to teach them how to do the same with their children.

Now there is more involved because I am an authority figure in their lives, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be their friend.  My boy Brandon looked at me the other day and said “Dad, you are my best buddy” I looked back at him and said “Brandon I appreciate that, but I want you to know I am your parent first and can’t be your friend at all because I have to raise you and be stern and teach you to respect me which discounts any type of friendship that you may want to have with me.  Now, go make me some waffles.”

No I didn’t.  That would be stupid.  Well, not the waffles, cuz that would be awesome.

My kids and I spend time together.  I make sure each of them gets special alone time with Dad.  They can talk about whatever they want to talk about, and do things that they want to do.  Katie normally picks the library.  Brandon normally picks Game Stop and Collin picks the McDonald’s play land.  At the McDonald's play land he is allowed to run and scream through giant plastic tubes.  Best. Time. Ever.

I find the friendship I have with my kids very, how should I say this, unfettered of need.  Kids while they are young just want to spend time with you.  As you get older, we tend to develop friendships with those around us who either need things from us, or we have need of them.  Before the initial conception of the friendship occurs we use people for a purpose.  For no other reason that they fill a gap or a certain set of requirements when if we are honest enough we could see ourselves never conversing with certain people ever.  I understand networking systems and computers.  Many people who are friendly with me do so because they have a need for that skill.  We aren’t friends, but we may BECOME friends due to the fact that they initially have a need that needs to be filled.

There’s nothing wrong with that.  What is wrong, though, is when the relationship that people think they have with you is friendship when in reality they use you for the skills that you have.

I’ve been guilty of this.  I have a buddy of mine who is a gifted accountant.  But I see him once a year.  I’m sure you can guess why.  He is a great guy with a great family, but I only make time for our friendship during tax time.  That makes me a jerk.  How can I ever expect a friendship to grow if the only time I put into it is when I need something?  Truth is I can’t.

Most people bind together over an ideal, or a certain topic.  If you think about it, it happens a lot in religion (or lack thereof), politics, or sadly if you are Canadian.  The topic drives the similarities in two individuals forming a common ground and that allows the foundation for a friendship to be planted.  Circumstances also forge friendships over time.

But whatever the reason you become friends with someone, be it because you met at an event where you both had interests, you are both from Canada, or you needed the viruses from that porn site cleaned off your computer for the 4th time, we should make sure we spend some time maintaining that relationship without the pressure of some requirements that need to be fulfilled.

Reading through the Bible, Jesus surrounded himself with many people.  All of them he served.  Twelve of them he kept close.  But I am pretty sure one of the 12 was a Canadian.

3Jn 1:14 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.