• Thu, May 12 2011

My 7-Year-Old Daughter Is My BFF

My best friend doesn’t know what to say when I mention that a romantic trip I just returned from went slightly astray. After admitting spending time with my boyfriend wasn’t as fun as I hoped, my best friend took a long sip of her drink, blinking unsurely before looking over my shoulder, screeching and knocking into the table.

I wiped up her spilled drink.

My best friend’s drink of choice these days is chocolate milk and, at the restaurant, a window washer had appeared behind me. There would be no more talk of my romantic life. That’s the kind of best friend I have.

What did I expect? Of course washing windows is more interesting to her than my personal life. Yet, less than an hour earlier my best friend and I were laughing hysterically together as she accidently spit toothpaste from her mouth onto my hand and I spritzed hair spray in her face. She had also just complimented me: “I want to have boobs just like yours!”

My best friend and I spend almost all of our free time together, share the same room and hairbrush, and can talk for hours. She’s not only my roommate, she’s also my daughter. Did I mention she is 7 years old?

I realize how ridiculous this sounds, but from the moment she was born I made sure I would have a different type relationship with my daughter than I had with my mother. My daughter and I would be open and honest about everything. No question was to be out of bounds.

My mini-BFF knew what a tampon was from the time she was 3 and, if you ask, can recite lines from Sex and the City 2.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not sure if treating my daughter like my best friend is the best idea. We all see celebrities like Lindsay Lohan and Miley Cyrus out partying with their mothers and we know what train wrecks they are.

But, if you take celebrity and money out of the equation (which, I think, really is to blame), is it really wrong for you to treat your child as a friend?

Right now, at age 7, it seems okay. She does her homework. She listens to me when I tell her to shut of the television. And, quite frankly, I’d rather have a ‘date night’ with her than any guy. Kids’ movies are fun!

Right now, it seems I have managed to find a balance between being a parent (“Write out that word five times before your spelling test!”) to being a best friend (“What teacher do you love/hate the most?”).

My other best friend (in the adult world) is 36 years old and has always been best friends with her mother. My friend, a successful businesswoman and mother of three, was so close with her mother that her mom was the first to know when she lost her virginity.

I would like to be that kind of mother. I want my daughter to feel open enough to talk to me about her sex life. And I believe that a relationship like this has to be started when they are young. The other option is to be a constant nag, telling her to clean up after herself and demanding to see her homework each day. And, please, don’t tell me there’s a balance. Every mother knows that there is no finding balance when it comes to anything to do with parenting. It is what it is.

I can pretty much guarantee that no matter how I treat her now, whether more of a friend than a parent, or more of a parent than a friend, it is somewhat of a crap shoot on how she’ll end up. We know great parents whose kids end up crackheads. And we know crappy parents whose children end up just fine.

I’m going to continue on my route treating my daughter as my mini-BFF. That is, unless the managers and agents start calling. Then I’ll really put my foot down.

 


You can reach this post's author, Rebecca Eckler, on twitter.
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  • iceberg

    It sounds like you have it figured out pretty good!

    But (speaking as the daughter of a single mom), I think just be careful not to rely emotionally on her as *your* BFF. It doesn’t sound like that’s what you’re doing but I think it’s a trap for single moms with one daughter, it just gets a little too close, or something, and the emotional burden can be more than the daughter is old enough to handle.

  • iceberg copy

    I’m sorry, I really never comment, but this is important to me — I second iceberg’s opinion. My mother made that mistake and things have not worked out well. (Plenty of other complicating factors are involved, but it can prove a really unhealthy context for the kid.) If you’re curious, read The Gifted Child to evaluate for signs like anticipating your needs, etc.

  • chexmixitup

    While I admire your desire for a strong bond/connection between yourself and your daughter, I think maybe you should check back in with us in a few years and let us know how that “bff” thing is going. I’ve got a 13 year old daughter and although we were thick as theives when she was younger (I mean, we homeschooled, co-slept, everything) I’ve had to step back and allow her the space she needs as a teenager. I’d love nothing more than to crawl inside her head and know exactly what’s going on, but the thing is? It’s *her* head and she’s entitled to privacy and respect–and I *don’t* need to know.

    That relationship you’re looking for will come without you having to resort to being like Amy P.’s character in “Mean Girls”. There is a balance, and you’ll find it eventually.

  • Grace

    I think you should be worried that you use the term BFF and you are, in fact, not seven years old. Looking back, I wish I had a few more years free from discussions of dating woes and the need for super plus tampons. The fact that you feel the need to burden your daughter with issues she will be forced to deal with for so long in only a few short years is mind boggling to me. I too have daughters with whom I hope to share an open and honest relationship. But honesty begins with telling them that we cannot yet be best friends, because I am an adult and they, for a fleeting moment, are children.

  • jim harris

    I have a three year old son who I would spend 24 7 with if I could. I think having my son get into the rhythm of my life is the most important thing I can do for him. As long as I maintain my curiousity about things, keep trying and refuse to give up, he will follow suit. Trust your instincts and your best friends.

  • Katoe

    You are a parent, and thus your child should NEVER be your friend! Children are in need of parents at 7, as they have school to make friends at. They are not supposed to be “BFFs” with their mothers. If you want a 7 year old BFF go make one, and if you want a BFF your age, go make one, but you won’t ever be able to have a healthy, supportive, consistent, relationship with your child if you continue to make her your BFF. …anyone else remember what teenage girlfriends do to each other? No parent wants that!

  • Carolyn

    Like Gilmore Girls :)

  • Ashley

    Was anyone else horrified by the fact that her daughter can recite lines from a movie like sex and the city 2?? On what planet should a 7-year-old be watching movies that discuss blow jobs?? Why don’t you just allow your child some innocence. There’s being “open and honest” and then there’s forcing mature knowledge onto a child because you’re lonely.

  • jeffrey

    Fear not, “Mom”- if your daughter is quoting lines from “Sex and the City 2″ at 7 yrs. old, I’m sure you’ll be the first to know when she loses her virginity. Which should be happening just about any day now….

    • Tiffany

      What an ignorant, uneducated thing to say! Considering my mom has been my best friend since birth I can promise you that a statement like that is untrue, from experience. My mother was 19 when she had me and my father has never been in my life. My mother was always open and honest with me about everything and Thursday nights have been our “date” night before I ever even had a real date. I am now 24 years old and enrolled at one of the most prestigious law schools in the United States. I graduated top of my high school class and top of my college class. When other girls were losing their minds in college, soaking in the first taste of freedom that their tightly wound parents had never let them experience I was soaring to the top of my class. When I lost my virginity at 17, to the man I am now engaged to, my mother was the first person I told. Treating your child like an adult, being honest and open with her about the real world does not mean she will end up as any of the stereotypes that someone like Jeffrey would have you believe. If such statistics were so accurate, I would have been pregnant by 15, addicted to some sort of drug, and would never have even seen the inside of a University. All because I had an absent father and a young mother who never shielded me from the adult world. Obviously you can’t always believe what you hear or even what you think in your own inexperienced, juvenile brain. I applaud you Rebecca for your mothering style and I hope to have a similar relationship with my eventual children some day!

  • charlynn

    wow what is with all the negativity of being friends with your child? i have an 8 year old daughter and i tell her all the time she is my best buddy…. i love hanging out with her and doing special girl things that i don’t do with my boys… my boys do guy stuff with dad. however all though my daughter knows she is my best buddy she also knows my husband is my best friend…. he knows all my problems and we discuss things that she knows i won’t discuss with her. there is a difference between being a best friend and a best buddy in her eyes… best buddies get to do all the fun stuff together. i love the relationship with my daughter but even though we are buddies she still knows i’m mom above all else…. and she also knows she can come to me and tell me anything… and she does… i wouldn’t have it any other way.

  • Ariel

    I am now 22 but my mother and I have been best friends my entire life. She and my father divorced when I was a year old so it has always just been the two of us. As I have gotten older she has become more friend and less mother, but she is still definitely a mother. It really just depends on what I need at that moment. Despite being friends she definitely kept me in check. She had specific rules and as long as I followed them we had a very happy relationship, but even when we fought we would get over it quickly and be best friends again. The rules were pretty much to keep straight As and help with any chores she may ask me to do that specific day, although she would change them up so I wouldn’t start doing a bad job from doing one too often.
    I am now extremely successful. I graduated from college in 3 years and am now in graduate school. I have a few job opportunities lined up for when I am done and am really starting my life. We may have always been best friends, but instead of messing me up like so many commenters are suggesting, it helped me in tremendous ways.
    I have the relationship with my mom that you want with your daughter. It is not always easy but the rewards are more than you can imagine. She was the first to know when I lost my virginity (at age 16, not under 10 as some people suggest will happen), and I also knew what a tampon was for as long as I can remember. When I started thinking about having sex I went to my mom and we had the billionth sex talk so I could decide if I really was ready or not. As long as I was safe about it and made sure he really was the guy I wanted to lose it to she did not have any problems.
    I also used to watch Sex and the City with my mom, although I was a bit older when it first came out. Whenever something was questionable it would open up opportunities for us to speak about it, so I knew the reality from the television.
    I think it is beautiful that you want to be as close with your daughter as I am with my mother. As long as you stay more mother than friend until she is mature enough to not need a parent as much, you will do a wonderful job. When I left for college I needed a friend a bit more than a mother. My routine was set and I had no problems adjusting to college without drinking bouts. I kept my straight As (even now in grad school). But every once in a while all I really want (and need) is my mom, and she is more than willing to be mom when I need it, either for a lecture or a cuddle.

  • Kathryn

    I feel sorry for the child. She doesn’t need another friend, she can get plenty. She needs a mother. She has ONE and that one evidently refuses to behave like a mother.
    Stop shirking your duties!

  • Shark Wedding

    parents should be PARENTS to their kids, NOT BEST FRIENDS.

  • Pingback: The Top 5 Worst Mom And Daughter BFFS

  • kims

    my daughter & i can pal around, get sarcastic with eachother, discuss my period, and talk about her absent father. i tell her its just me & her, we are a team & we need to help eachother out, but she has to respect that i am the mom & she is the hannah. she’s 6. we have been sharing a room her whole life. she knows about my period, because she feels free to walk into the bathroom whenever she wants, & has seen the evidence of it. she feels comfortable asking and telling me anything. she has learned that if she is honest with me, any punishment will be easier on her. she is my bff, but i don’t want to be hers until she’s older & has the difficult decisions to make, about boys, drinking, drugs. we need that parent/ child respect right now.
    there are no men in my life at the moment, but if there were, i think he would be introduced and always referred to as my friend, unless we were to get engaged or move in together. i don’t want her to think boyfriend relationships should be taken casually. thats my long, rambling opinion on this subject.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=592188905 Bran Chesterton

      I implore you, as a grown woman whose mother did not know when to stop talking about the father in a pal-y, negative way, please don’t overstep those boundaries with your kid. They remember. It altered my perception of him as a man and a father. And now I’m a lesbian, so look what happened!! J/K, J/K. But really, This all sounds great, but honestly, badmouthing or raising eyebrow at the absent father issue is upsetting to the daughter.

  • Whitney

    Yuck. I realize you’re doing this for yourself with no regard of your child’s happiness. It sounds like you’re very, very happy in your selfishness. You seem so one-sided. Of course there is balance in parenting. And, definitely a line between watching Sex and the City and being a nag. God. Poor girl.