Having never been one to follow the masses, I find it quite disturbing at the way most children are treated. I have sought to raise my children with love, respect and trust. I did not do everything perfectly, but my children are wonderful!
I never wanted to be the parent that was lied to and kept in the dark, so I listened to my children and tried to keep an open mind. I wanted them to be able to come to me if they had a problem or needed advice with an issue they were facing.
I tried to honor who they are as individuals rather than trying to conform them into what I thought they should be or what was "acceptable" to the mainstream.
I gave them freedom to be who they are. We went through periods of goth dressing and frequent hair color changes and more. They needed to experiment to find their identity in the world. That season passed and we survived. :)
I chose to homeschool my children to give them the freedom to learn at their own pace and to have time to pursue their passions. Oh, the criticism was fierce! But I did what I felt was right for my children. It was never to keep them locked way from the "evil" world and influences. I saw the spirits' being crushed out of my two oldest and I could not allow that to continue. My youngest has never attended traditional school.
I have often been criticized for letting my children go walking across town to the park, etc. Yes, I understand we live in a world that can be dangerous, but there comes a point when you have to trust your children. You cannot keep them locked way forever. Yes, they will make mistakes. They are children. But that comes with learning how to navigate the world. Adults make mistakes every day!
My children have always had friends over (girls and boys) and were allowed to go stay with others (girls). If my children wanted to come home in the middle of the night, I'd go get them.
Their wants and needs were just as important as ours. We looked for ways to get what they wanted: videos games, instruments, art supplies, cds, computers, magazines, whatever. They always had nice clothes whether they came from the thrift store, Walmart or the mall.
We took them places: out to eat, running errands, shopping, to parks, beaches nature trails, zoos, museums, bowling, mini golf and concerts. We go to birthday parties and family gatherings. I did not isolate them. They need to know how things in the real world work.
So I wrote all this to say - you had a choice in bringing your children into the world. Your children did not have that choice. They are not your little servants to do all your work. If you want respect, give it. Your child is an individual. He/She is not you.
If you want your children to trust you, build that trust by spending time with them, doing things with them, and listening. Don't fly off the handle because they said or did something you don't agree with...that's a surefire way to be the parent that never knows the truth!
If you mess up, apologize. Guide your children and trust them. If your children are really so horrible that they can't be trusted (never, ever) then maybe you should look at your parenting. That may sound harsh, but try as you might to control them, they ultimately have free will and it will backfire on you. They will rebel. Stop automatically assuming the worst about your children's intentions!
Your children were entrusted to your care to be loved, guided, and cared for. Just because they are smaller and less powerful doesn't mean you can treat them like crap, talk to them like they are idiots, and disregard their needs and desires.
You can be your child's friend as well as their parent.