There's always that one parent who picks their kid up from school oozing cool. They know all the latest slang and don't seem to have any issues "clicking" with their child. They are so close it seems like they are more best buddies than parent and child.
But parenting your children as though you both are equals may actually be a bad idea. Here are some reasons why:
Being equals with your children makes it hard to discipline them
The next time your best friend cancels dinner plans at the last minute, scold them about how irresponsible they are and send them to their room! Sounds bizarre? So does the "we're equals" approach to parenting your child. Friends don't nag at each other to do homework, or sleep early, or clean up their rooms.
One moment you're laughing at him complaining about his teacher, and the next moment you're telling him not to raise his voice at you. By acting like a buddy to your kids one moment, and then the next moment asking them to so something they don't want to do; it can lead to confusion for your kids, and worse, makes it difficult for you to feel grounded in your role as a parental figure too.
Your children need to be friends with their own peers
It's healthy for your kids to build and foster relationships with other kids their own age. They need to bring friends home and have sleepovers, and share their hopes and dreams with each other. If they are looking to you as a best friend, there is a danger of you becoming a replacement for those relationships.
A lot of time children become too clingy with their parents that they no longer need or want a group of friends. Constant attention from parents may result in future behavioural issues as the child is not equipped to deal with all that constant fawning and advice suddenly removed from them. You might be a stand-in at times, but in no way should that position be held for the long run.
Instead, encourage them to branch out and make more friends at school if they are naturally introverted and don't seem to have much friends other than yourself, or advise them on how to develop and maintain healthy friendships if they are more extroverted. Whatever their characteristics, it is crucial that they learn to sort out their issues with friends of their similar age.
Your children needs you to be an authority figure, not a buddy
Children need a strong role model who can tell them what's right and what's wrong. They need someone who can set clear boundaries for them, to teach them respect and discipline. This is not necessarily going to happen if you appear off-handed about all those teachings in your interactions with your kids because you are supposedly their buddies.
Just like how a dog needs a pack leader authority figure in its life to feel stable, it's pretty similar to how a child requires someone to look to to have the last word and make the tough decisions. It's actually reassuring to know that someone is creating the rules and implementing them.
This doesn't mean that you ignore your child's views or make decisions without considering their feelings at all. But when you parent as though you and your kids are best buddies, you will erode your own authority in the eyes of your children. And it will only lead to confusion and issues down the road.
Your child is also not your friend
Some parents make the mistake of confiding to their children and sharing with them about how they feel about the neighbour, or their teacher, or that one colleague who constantly steals their food from the office fridge. And that just does not fit with the functional role of a parent.
For example, if you think that your kid's tutor is being ridiculous for not letting your child eat sweets in the room, you can be your kid's "buddy" and say, "That's such a stupid rule! Your tutor is quite dumb ah, Ah Boy!". Or, you can fit with the functional role of a parent by saying, "I really hated that rule when I was your age and having tuition too! But I had to follow it, so Ah Boy, just eat your sweet when you are leaving the class, okay?"
Even though both responses relate and empathizes with your child, one of them is making him a confidante, whereas the other is not. Guess which one is more ineffective by not promoting learning?
It's a well-meaning trap when some parents think that their child would not think too much about it, or be affected by it. But surprise surprise, a child can feel like they are powerless and not much of a help to their beloved mum or superhero dad. And this is true, because a child is not emotionally or mentally prepared to play a role of confidante.
So if you are forty years old, find another forty year old, or fifty year old, or thirty year old. But definitely not an eight year old, or fifteen year old.