My dear daughter, I’m sorry to disappoint you, but we are not best friends. I know I have told you this many times before, and you always reciprocate with an eye roll. As a 13-year-old, I know you do not understand, nor do you want to. However, I promise you one day you will. If you look deep within yourself, you will realize you do not want to be. I love you with every ounce of my being, so much that it hurts sometimes. This is the special love a mother has for her child. I love my best friends, but not the way I love you.

I know you have friends who say their moms are their best friends. It is on social media daily for me to see. I see moms bragging that they are BFFs with their daughters. I am not judging them. Every mother is different, and we should never compare ourselves. What works for one family doesn’t work for another. Someday you will figure this out.

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I want all the glory of being your best friend. Who wouldn’t? I would love for you to think I am that amazing. Unfortunately, I have bad news for you—I am not. There are so many things I hope to have in my relationship with you. I want to be a person you trust and confide in.

I hope someday we will be close friends; however, that day is many years away.

One reason you cannot be my best friend is I can never tell you everything I tell my best friends. Some things are not for your ears now, and some things never will be. Like you, I have secrets. My struggles are not for you to know or worry yourself with. At this point in your life, you can not relate or understand. Adults complain and vent to their friends. It is what we do. You don’t need to know when your father makes me crazy. In fact, you shouldn’t know. I don’t want you to know my fears or what keeps me up at night. 

A teenager also needs friends who are separate from their family. You need someone to vent to about things. You cannot complain to me about me! It is awkward and just doesn’t work. You need a best friend to share your secrets with. One who will listen to your fears and, as a teenager, can relate. You want someone to giggle with late at night and someone to talk about crushes with.  

Make no mistakeyou can share all of those things with me. I will always be here for you and will always listen. I will hug you, comfort you, and let you cry on my shoulder.

However, as your mother, I am not impartial. I will more than likely insert my opinion, and most of the time, it will not be what you want to hear. As your mother, it is my job to give you advice and protect you. This is a responsibility a friend just doesn’t have. A good friend will do this, but they fear hurting you or alienating you if you don’t like what they say.

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Sometimes friends will tell you what you want to hear, not what you need to hear. I will never do this. I will always tell you what you need to hear. Even when I know it will make you mad at me. I will deal with you being mad at me if it means keeping you safe. You will even think you hate me sometimes, that’s a burden I am happy to carry to protect you. 

Saying we are best friends diminishes the special role we play in each other’s lives.

It also blurs the boundaries of the parent-child relationship. It is confusing to decide where friendship ends and parenting begins. If I treat you as my friends, I am no longer the authority figure in our life that you need. You would resent a friend who gave you rules and told you what to do. You would deem them bossy. However, as your mother, you expect rules and unknowingly appreciate them. Not being friends protects both of us, and it protects our special bond.

Someday when you have grown, our relationship may seem more like a friendship. We will talk more candidly about life and adult topics. Even then, I do predict there will be some stuff you don’t want to share with me for various reasons. Then you will finally understand my dear daughter, why I cannot be your best friend.

Mary McAteer

I have been writing for 20+ years, my first piece was published when I was in high school. I’ve been fortunate to be featured in several publications both domestically and internationally. Writing has taken a back seat to my two AMAZING kids, but now I'm getting back to me!