I hear it almost every day, and it drives me nuts. Fathers calling their sons “Buddy”.
I don’t understand. Are these men desperate to be liked by their sons? Do they think that using an alternate word for “friend” will strengthen the relationship that they have with their sons? Do they think that using the term is somehow more calming and reassuring than using their proper name, or are there actually that many boys named “Buddy”? (The only Buddy I know of is Buddy the Elf.)
Perhaps I’m old school. Or maybe I’m out of touch. But I see my job as a father to be a father, not a friend. Most of the time they are almost the same thing, but there is a perspective difference.
As fathers, I believe we have a huge job teaching discipline, teaching right from wrong, rewarding for good, and punishing for bad. I believe it is our job to prepare our children for the real world, to teach them what they will need to know when they start to spread their wings. I stongly believe that trying to be friends with our kids (and calling our sons “Buddy”) undermines the power and authority that comes with being a father. And sometimes that authority is needed when we need to make a hard decision. Likely a different decision than if we were making it as a friend.
This is not to say we can’t live our lives being supportive and comforting to our kids… I believe if we do this as a father it is actually more powerful for our kids to see than trying to do it as their friend. It creates a strong role model for our sons to aspire to, and a healthy vision for our daughters of how men should be.
Plus, being all buddy with our kids just isn’t natural. We and our kids are operating at fundamentally different cognitive and experiential levels and trying to bridge the age gap with friendship is confusing for them. It makes it really tough for the kids to understand when we are their friend and when we are their father. In my mind we should always be their father.
So, to all the Dads out there: Stop trying to be friends with your kids. Start acting like a father. Love, reward, support, encouragement, affection, teaching, mentoring, discipline, and punishment, all done as a father, not a friend. And please, stop calling your sons “Buddy”.