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  • Writer's pictureAndy Murphy

The Danger of the “Cool” Parent

The Danger of the cool parent

How a respectful parent-child relationship can keep kids safe and healthy

I want to talk about parenting. I talk a lot about safety and it’s been a while since we’ve focused exclusively on being a mom or dad. So I want to help us focus on what’s important and how we need to be perceived by our kids, their friends, and those that are in our sphere of influence.

Plus, a lot of us think this way and I just wanted to say out loud what we are all thinking and also address a few issues that we may not be aware of or just flat-out avoid. Let's discuss the danger of the cool parent, why this can be a problem, and what we need to strive for in parenting.

The Danger of “Cool” Parent

If you Google what is the cool parent, you get a definition that says:

“A cool parent is someone who can relate to teens but still establishes a position of respect and authority”

Let me dip into my southernness here. Bless your heart. I don’t know who wrote that, but that’s not what kids mean when they say a friend has a “cool” mom or dad.

In the real world, the cool parent is the one who lets their kids do whatever they want and is very hands-off. They don’t monitor what their kids are doing online, what media they are consuming, or how to help their kids academically.

The cool parent is the one that lets kids bring drugs, porn, and alcohol into their home and give some lame excuse that kids are going to do it anyway, at least they can watch them. That’s a joke.

They also pay too much attention to teenage gossip and try to live vicariously through their children. And maybe they're too busy being influencers that they see their children as actors rather than people. This is a very permissive style of parenting where adults are child-driven and seek to overindulge them rather than discipline them.

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Identity Crisis in Parenting

These parents may have a bit of an identity crisis. Parents like this seem to want to maintain their childhood or teenage years while ignoring the structure that kids need. They want to be liked by their kids but struggle to discipline them for a variety of reasons.

They usually don’t address a behavior until it’s a problem and they don’t have the skills or position to deal with it. So it ends up escalating to an argument with no real resolution. They also don’t really understand the boundaries that kids need to thrive and feel loved. This is going to create a problem.

Your kids should not think of you as a friend, they need to see you as a parent.

They’ll Be Okay, Right?

They are the kind of parents who are a mix of free-range and fun parents who assume that their kids will turn out alright because they turned out okay.

I would argue that if you’re on your third marriage, more than 20 thousand dollars in debt, and have gone to court more than you have church then you might not have turned out all that well. If you are reading this article, chances are you are not a problematic “cool” parent. But you might be married to one or your children have friends with parents like this.

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Cool Parents can be Manipulated

I remember being a teenager and hearing about cool parents and I had no respect for them. And that’s the truth, cool parents are manipulated by their kids and their friends to get what they want. They knew that if they could get to go to the cool parent’s house they could indulge in whatever deviant behavior they wanted.

Lack of Experience in Parenting

I think many parents today, have problems navigating child relationships because they don’t have any experience with what to do. I fully understand that not everyone had great parents growing up. And just because you were not abused by a drunk parent growing up does not mean you had quality parents.

So some adults suffer from parenting imposter syndrome - they feel like they’re faking it - because they just haven't been shown what to do. Since there’s no parenting lesson to fall back on they default to making the kid happy by allowing them to do whatever they want. Does any of this sound appealing to you?

Never be the Cool Parent

You should never strive to be the cool parent. Your kids should not think of you as a friend, they need to see you as a parent - which by the way is way better than being a friend.

I don’t want my son to say I’m his best friend. I want him to have a best friend his age. I am his father which is a bond greater than friendship.

By the way, if your child has ever said to you in a heartfelt way that you were their best friend, that is wonderful. I don’t want to take that from you. That might have been the only way they could express what they were feeling. So we’ll look at the intent of the statement and cherish what they meant.

I am saying to you is you should not lower yourself to the level of friendship. Parenting is so much more than what any friend can ever do.

Be the Respected Parent

You need to strive to be the respected parent. This is a parent that first and foremost knows who they are in their parenthood. You know right from wrong and you are rooted in your beliefs that guide your family.

You need to be a protector, a caregiver, a disciplinarian, a confidant, and an encourager among many other attributes. Work with your kids to solve problems, make them feel validated, listen to them, and meet their needs.

You need to take parenting seriously. Yes, it is hard. And no, we will not always know what to do or make the right decision. But if you lead by your heart for the greater good of your family, then you can’t go wrong. You need progress, not perfection. You need to move your children forward because you are not raising kids, you are raising adults.

Respect Begits Respect

Kids who respect their parents are more likely to feel loved and protected. Children respond well to boundaries and love. That’s been said by tons of parents, teachers, and professionals.

Also, when kids give respect, they can also develop respect for themselves. Remember what School Resource Officer Deputy Gomez said to us in his interview on the podcast? Kids who know their self-worth will say no to bad opportunities and act wisely.

Predators look for weak kids to manipulate. If your child knows their value, then predators won’t be successful with them. This still applies when your children are in their 20s, 30s, and for the rest of their lives. A child who has a respected parent who also respects themselves has a much greater chance at a better future.

You need to be the respected parent. No matter what your parenting dynamic looks like either married, single, or co-parenting you both need to be respected. When you can give and earn respect in your household, you are going to be able to enjoy a safer, happier life.

The Danger of the Cool Parent The Secure Dad


Andy Murphy

Andy Murphy founded The Secure Dad in 2016 with the aspiration to help families live safer, happier lives. What started as a personal blog about family safety has turned into an award-winning podcast, an Amazon best-selling book, and online courses. He focuses his efforts in the areas of home security, situational awareness, and online safety.


Andy is a husband and father. His interests include coaching youth basketball, hiking, and trying to figure out his 3D printer.

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