Your Teen Doesn’t Need You to Be Their Bestie: Collett Smart

Jul 9, 2024 | Parenting

By: Joni Boyd

Many parents will admit – the temptation to just aim to be their child’s friend above all else, is strong.

Key points

  • Your teens “don’t need a 40 year old BFF best friend forever”.
  • If your child hates hugs, find their love language.
  • It’s never too late to start working on or repairing relationships with your children.

And while this being your child’s ‘friend’ may seem to be the best option in the moment, psychologist and author Collett Smart warns parents that in the long run, our children and teens don’t need us to be their best friend – they need us to be their parent.

Collett Smart is a respected psychologist, educator, public speaker, podcaster and author with over two decades of experience working in both private and public school settings, as well as in private practice. Collett brings a wealth of knowledge and practical advice to parents and educators alike.

Collett caught up with Janet Evans and Dr. Amelia Haynes in an episode of the She Wasn’t Born Yesterday podcast to talk about raising teens.

“Children crave boundaries,” Collett said. “They don’t need a 40 year old BFF best friend forever. They don’t need you to be their best friend, they’ve got enough friends – they need you to be their parent.”

And while befriending our teens may seems like a good way to offer comfort and safety, Collett says it’s actually the opposite.

“They need stability,” she said. “I always talk about truckloads of love with boundaries – so finding ways to hug, connect.

“If your child hates hugs, find their love language, find ways to connect.”

Collett also offers these tips to parents of teens:

  • Teens communicate differently: It’s important to recognise that teenagers communicate in different ways, and being open to non-traditional formats, such as texts or notes, can be crucial in maintaining open lines of communication.
  • Have the tough conversations: Topics like body image insecurities may be difficult to broach, but they are essential conversations parents need to have with their teens amidst the bombardment of social media influences.
  • Mental health is important: Parents need proactive strategies to identify and address potential signs of depression or anxiety. The good news is that there are so many resources available for parents (including Collett’s Raising Teens podcast).
  • Surround them with safe adults: Encouraging connections with safe adults outside of the parental unit can provide teens with additional support systems. Take your time in deciding who the adults will be and communicate with them about your idea.
  • It’s not too late: It’s never too late to start working on or repairing relationships with your children. Consistent effort and an open heart can lead to positive outcomes.