Being a friend to your child is delusional

Domenick Maglio, PhD. is a columnist carried by various newspapers, an author of several books and owner/director of Wider Horizons School, a college prep program. Dr. Maglio has a new book, available on Amazon and other sites, entitled, IN CHARGE PARENTING. You can visit Dr. Maglio at

Most modern parents have been indoctrinated with the notion that if you are your child’s BFF (Best Friend forever) they would have a blissful, intimate relationship with each other forever. The child and the parent’s friendly relationship is supposed to keep all communication between them honest and open throughout their years together. The parent will be told everything going on in the child’s life. There will be no surprises since the child will seek out the parent’s advice before making any decisions.

Dr. Domenick Maglio

This utopian relationship between parents and child sounds terrific but is diametrically opposed to human nature. At the beginning of life fetuses are physically attached to the mother by their umbilical cord. Upon birth they are largely dependent on their parents for survival although they naturally begin to explore their environment. By the time they are toddlers they are able to crawl and begin to walk then run.

It eventually becomes a problem to keep them safely corralled in a particular area. The sweet sound of cooing when they are happy is soon augmented by words. As they continue to explore the world they increase the number of relationships with others. Peers help them learn new words, behaviors and new ways of thinking. Their world is branching out and becoming more involved and complex. The parent is no longer the major influence in their life.

At the same time they are beginning to better express their feelings by negotiating and even demanding what they want. These simple expressions of feelings increase as the child learns to speak. As their mobility and language becomes more developed their skills to do the unexpected explodes. The testing of limits of parental tolerance for behavior becomes a more sophisticated activity. Humans from birth to death are known to lie, steal, cheat and hurt other’s feelings even loving parents and other caring people. These behaviors have been noted as part of human nature.

Our media’s pop culture has led many modern parents to believe that an intensive bond between parents and child will eliminate the negative parts of human nature. As long as parents maintain open communication, the child will share everything with them. Any lying, stealing, selfishness or disrespectful behavior will miraculously disappear after a soft talk and reluctant admission by the child. As long as the child says “sorry” the parent is relieved. When the child becomes more sophisticated in playing this counseling game, the parents become certain the child can be trusted. This youngster will supposedly develop into an exemplary adult who will not cheat or steal but will be honorable in every venue. The intimate relationship between the child and parent will create BFFs. Once the child and parent are BFFs the child will be protected from all temptations that will confront him throughout his life.

Not only a group of peers, teachers and even family members will be told by a parent that “I spoke to my child and he told me the ‘true story’.” The ultimate reason for this faith in the child’s unquestionable word and behavior is simply ensured by the parent who says: “I am the child’s best friend and the child would never lie to me or do anything wrong.” The faith in this notion is embedded enough for them to deny overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

All people lie. Only through vigorous conscience training can a parent hope to minimize blatant lying. It is natural to lie to get out of trouble, telling the truth has to be taught. The parental response to other people’s accusations of their child’s wrong doing is not only a denial of reality but farcical. Most parents of sociopathic criminals, including mass killers, invariably state to the media that their offspring was a good child growing up. They will do this even after being presented with detailed evidence by family, friends and other authority figures of the community of his anti social behavior. Even police dossiers of fully investigated, horrible crimes are viewed skeptically or even as an outright frame-up by the parent. This diehard belief of a child’s innocence regardless of the type and volume of evidence testifies to a delusional parent, often the mother.

This parent does not see the child as a perpetrator but as a victim of societal misunderstanding and unforgiving people. The parents want everybody to know their child is a good person since the child has always told them everything.

“My child is my BFF,” is frightening. Parents have the responsibility to be a parent, not a friend. It means the parents have to put the child in many social situations to observe and hear reports from respected authority figures about his behavior with other people.

Unsupervised peer activities should be spot checked by parents to view how they behave in these types of situations. Like all of us, a child acts differently in different environments. The parents need to investigate their child’s actions and question, probe and evaluate their behavior patterns.

The parents of children are the primary authority figures. They have the most to gain from giving appropriate consequences and are in the most advantageous position to civilize their offspring. When they accomplish their sacred task, the child succeeds as an adult. When they do not instill moral values to direct them, the child has no conscience to guide him. These children with a moral vacuum usually fall into some form of destructive lifestyle.