I have a sneaking suspicion that I may hold a minority opinion on this, but you know what? My children, even my older ones, are not my best friends, and I don't have the expectation that they will be. I am also not best friends with my mother or father. At face value all of this sounds rather dreadful, especially given the friend culture we live in. To be friends, especially best friends, bff's, is the ultimate goal in any relationship, it seems.
But I want more than this in my relationship with my parents and with my children. Ideally, the parent/child relationship is deeper and stronger than mere friends. This is not belittle close friendships; I am blessed with many of those and I know that those friends would literally give me the shirts off their backs if I needed them, and vice versa. But a parent/child relationship is a deep, deep part of who we are. It is our first relationship as an infant and that infant is what transforms an adult into a parent. It comes with a love that literally knows no bounds and a responsibility as well. Parents are to care and nurture their children and children are to honor their parents. The loss of either a parent or a child is traumatic at best and devastating at worst.
We (mostly) understand this when our children are little, but something happens as our children grow. It is as if parents abdicate their parental responsibility and choose to become friends with their growing children. While older children need to be parented differently and have much more control over their lives, I think parents should still act like a parent.
I have a wonderful relationship with my parents. We enjoy talking with each other, we enjoy doing things with each other, we get along well, but my parents are still my parents. My mother will still call me and strongly suggest my attitude about something needs a bit of an adjustment. I may not seem as though I appreciate it at the time, but really I do. It is nice to have someone still looking out for me and who is willing to say the hard things. And I also know that if ever I am in trouble, one or both of my parents will be on a plane. Immediately. This isn't just supposition, More than once my parents have dropped everything, bought the expensive plane ticket, and boarded the plane within 24 hours of my calling them.
And this is the kind of relationship I want with my own children. They may be taller than I am and nearly grown up; they may not even live in my home for much of the time anymore; they may be incredibly responsible and mature; but they will always be my children. I will always want what is best for them and if that means I need to say the hard things to them I will. It's why I feel comfortable (and justified) in turning to my 17 and 19 year olds after church and announcing that I don't care how old they are, if I ever see them texting during church, their phones are mine. Heck, if I saw my 30 year old child texting during church, I'd probably take his or her phone as well. I think we cut the apron strings a little too severely and much too early for anyone's good. It's not a bad thing for someone to not do something because they don't want their mother to find out. My plan is to be the type of grandmother whom everyone loves, but no one relishes crossing. (Don't worry. My children are all well aware of this.)
I think this mistaken idea that parenting is only for when the children are little also affects how we view our relationship to God. We are told that we have been adopted into God's family and as such He is our Heavenly Father. This is wonderful, but only if we have an accurate view of what a father really is. We are too quick to turn God into our BFF. I'm pretty sure that this idea of being God's friend (and please, I won't even go into all the reasons why I can't stomach the "I am a Friend of God" song), is scripturally unsupportable. To imply that God is my friend in some way implies I am His equal. But if you get right down to it, there is really nothing friendly about God. Loving? Yes. Mighty? Yes. Overwhelming? Yes. Cute and cuddly? Not at all. He is not a tame lion. Only a domesticated cat can be a friend.