“A dog is a man’s best friend” is one of those expressions that requires no explanation. And yet despite the conciseness of the statement, I can’t help but wonder why anyone particularly a parent would ever use this expression.
MAN IS NOT A DOG’S BEST FRIEND
My grandmother used to have a dog, a German shepherd named Dolly. For far too many days and weekends to count, I spent time with Dolly. My sister and I loved Dolly. But for as much as we loved Dolly she was not a member of our family – she was not a human being.
Dolly was a member of the Canidae family – those who ancestors include wolves, foxes, jackals, and dingoes. Dolly was a great pet but she was not my best friend. Even as a child, I understood that a friend by any definition is a human being, not an animal.
Now I realize many will find my last statement controversial or even blasphemous. So let me ask you would you consider anyone a best friend if they threw a germ-infested ball and made you run after it, return it to them, only to throw the unhygienic ball repeatedly and force you to go get it again and again? My guess is that you answered “no”.
How about this would you consider someone your best friend if they left you home alone each day – absent a way to relieve yourself – with nothing but an unsanitary bowl on the floor that was filled with dried insect exposed food and warm stale water? Again, I surmise that you would answer “no”!
How then could you believe any dog would consider you their best friend?
A PARENT SHOULD NOT BE THEIR CHILD’S FRIEND
Accompanying the absurd “a dog is a man’s best friend” quote is the equally illogical phrase “a parent should not be their child’s friend”. Like the dog-man expression, this parent-child idiom needs no additional clarification. Parents and children are not supposed to be friends. Really? That’s dumb!
So, let me get this straight. A dog can be my best friend but not my child. Am I really supposed to abide by this and parent using this as my mantra?
Please give me a break! It appears that originators of these two expressions were either not a parent or were a parent who did not fully embrace the role of a parent.
MY SON IS MY BEST FRIEND
If you are a parent, who believes you should not be friends with your child and/or who believes that dogs are a man’s best friend, I strongly urge you to reconsider your position. Because through the good and bad times and the highs and lows of life, I can prove that my son has always been and hopefully will always remain my best friend. And quite frankly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Speaking of the way, I know first-hand, thanks to Dolly and Naeem that dogs and children often do things the same way as in their innate ability to make you mad at times – leaving you flat-out exasperated. Occasionally, frustrating you to the brink of wanting to hit them with a newspaper or stick their nose in their own poop – which of course you will never do. Right! You won’t ever abuse your dog or child, am I right?
More importantly, I can also attest to the fact that dogs and children also bring us great joy. They can be great listeners when the rest of the world ignores us. Both can brighten our day during those dark times without having to say or do anything special. Notwithstanding the commonalities though, children are so much better and they can do so much more than dogs!
Children are mirrors of our humanity. Children are the stone engravements of our legacy. Children are the bridge that connects us with the past and the future. Children should be a parent’s best friend if for no other reason than children are way better than dogs!
CHILDREN ARE A PARENT’S BEST FRIEND
One last expression, “birds of a feather, flock together”. Parents who believe that a dog is a better friend and/or that their children are not worthy of being in their flock (of friends) might want to reassess what they are doing as parents, who they are as friends.
Henry David Thoreau once said, “The most I can do for my friend is simply be his friend”. According to Psychology Today to be a friend one must possess the following thirteen characteristics:
- Ability to trust others
- Ability to withhold judgment
- Effective listening skills
- Self-reflection and self-discipline
- Ability to offer support
- Ability to see the humor in life
- Being fun to be around
Before you deem your dog your best friend or denounce the validity of parent-child friendships, do yourself and your child a favor. Take a self-assessment of your fitness to be a friend. Ask your child to give you an A – F grade for each of the thirteen characteristics. The results might surprise you!
You might find that your dog is your best friend simply because they can’t tell you about yourself. And maybe just maybe you and your child could be friends even best friends if you did a better job modeling the thirteen traits of a friend.
Do you believe a parent should not be their child’s friend? Are you worthy of being your child’s friend?