How Would You Parent Your Friend’s Child?

Posted March 4, 2016 by

How Would You Parent Your Friend’s Child?

Would you like a break from the emotions of parenting? Here’s a little trick: Parent your friend’s child instead.

Parenting is emotional. Our strong emotional connection to our children is a powerful and challenging part of parenting. Sometimes these emotions can blur our vision. Or just wear us down. When you need some perspective about your child’s behavior, try asking yourself a simple question:

How would I parent my friend’s child in this situation?

When it’s our own child acting out, we often feel worse about bad behavior. A good way to lessen emotional intensity is to imagine that you are managing a friend or neighbor’s child. Does it seem less stressful? We think sometimes it might.

Think about listening to your infant cry. The sound of that cry affects you more than the sound of another baby crying. Our own children tap deeply into our emotions, and rightfully so.

That’s why this question can be a quick way to switch from your emotional to logical brain. We don’t have strong emotions attached to our friends’ children the way we do with our own. If they misbehave, it’s much easier to see the whole view and make a decision based on logic, not emotion.

If you would like more advice around emotional parenting, this article is very helpful: 4 Tools To Help You Stay Calm With Your Difficult Child.

Please feel free to share with our community below. Parents often find it helpful to discuss parenting techniques with other readers.

Wishing you calm this week,


Empowering Parents Director of Community Support


Becky Staples has worked with children and families in a variety of settings including schools, homes, and community agencies. She has a degree in Education and Child Study from Smith College and her Masters in Marriage and Family Counseling from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Becky has been working with Empowering Parents families since 2008.

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  1. Anne Report

    I have a 33 year old daughter who doesn’t give me respect and is always criticising me and telling me how to live my life and I then don’t see her for days or the grandchildren and it churns me up. How can I distance myself from this.

    • Empowering Parents Coach drowden Report

      I can only imagine how tough this must be for you. I’m glad
      you are reaching out for help with what sounds like a distressing situation. It
      might be helpful to look into community resources that might be able to offer
      you support. The 211 Helpline would be able to give you information on services
      in your area, such as parent support groups, counselors and other resources.
      You can reach the Helpline 24 hours a day by calling 1-800-273-6222 or by
      visiting them online at Best of luck
      moving forward. Take care.

  2. VictoriaCulbertsonWalden Report

    Kind of hard for me to parent my friend’s child because I already do!. I watch my friend’s 3 children after school until she gets home from work which is usually until they go to bed. So right now I am their second parent. My son seems to act worse than normal when they are around I need some advice because I am wearing out fast.

    • Empowering Parents Coach drowden Report

      I hear you. It can be challenging to know what to do when
      your child seems to be influenced by the acting out behavior of other children.
      It’s going to be important to hold your son accountable for the choices he is
      making, regardless of who or what might be influencing that behavior. It would
      also be productive to have a problem solving conversation with your son about
      the choices he is making, as Sara Bean suggests in the article These
      conversations may help you figure out exactly what is going on for your son
      when you’re watching your friend’s children. Something to keep in mind – if the
      added responsibility of watching someone else’s children is starting to have a
      negative effect on you and your son, it may be time to set some limits around
      how much assistance your willing to offer your friend. We appreciate you
      writing in and wish you the best of luck moving forward. Take care.

  3. Debbie Report

    One of the best things that has helped me change how I react to my children – besides Debbie Pincus’ The Calm Parent AM & PM – was sitting in my CoDA group listening to other parents talk about their struggles. The majority of the members were dealing with adult children, some with addictions, some not. As I listened to them talk about their experiences, which were very similar to mine, I sometimes would as, “Why would you accept that behavior?” I would then later ask myself that question and apply the same comments I had given in group to myself. I was dealing with a defiant 14 year old granddaughter and her defiant 33 yr old mother, both of whom lived with us. It helps tremendously to place yourself in an objection position when dealing with challenging and defiant behavior. I am now off to read the linked article, “Four steps to help you stay calm with your difficult child.”



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