Wednesday 24 May 2017

No: 'As a mum, my job is to be a sounding board -- not to borrow her clothes'

She's mum and mentor to 11-year-old Anneliese, but mature student Gillian Fox (47) from Greystones reckons it's a bad idea to try to be your child's best friend too.

"It goes without saying that I love my daughter Anneliese to bits. She's everything I could have ever wished for in a child -- smart, sensible, loving, kind. But we'll never be 'best friends' -- we both have our own.

"As she's an only child, I've always been wary of letting Anneliese get too dependent on me. That's not to say we don't enjoy each other's company.

"We go shopping together, go to the movies or just curl up on the couch having a gossip. Unlike her real best friend, though, I also get cross, give out and do all the things that mums do.

"Likewise, just like all pre-teens, Anneliese might tell me she loves me one minute -- and hate my guts the next.

"In my opinion, that's the way it should be. No matter how hard you try, your child will never tell you everything -- nor is Anneliese interested in the minute details of my life. As a mum, my job is to be a sounding board for my daughter -- not to borrow her clothes or go clubbing together.

"All I can do is give her the common sense to stand on her own two feet -- and make sure that no matter what happens, she knows she can always come to me or her dad for help.

"Whether it's your child or a total stranger, developing a friendship is something that takes time and maturity. Some of my friends and I go back decades -- and know things that I'd never share with Anneliese.

"As you get older, I think you become more of a 'mum' and less of a 'friend' to your child. My own mum and I have a great relationship -- but even now, I still respect her authority.

"In many ways, your best friend takes over the role of your mum. Sometimes with 'chummy mummies', there's an element of jealousy involved -- not of their daughter, but of their youth.

"Frankly, I wouldn't want to be 20 again. Annaliese is going into sixth class this year -- and once she's old enough, I'm looking forward to getting back to my own life. As the saying goes: If you love someone, set them free."

Irish Independent

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