Relationships with supervisors in a position where you are on duty 24 hours a day for days at a time is very different from a person that works a 9-5 job or something similar. You spend so much time together that often times you forget about the employee/supervisor relationship and begin to think you are friends. In my personal opinion this is a very wrong thing to do, and wish I would stop forgetting it.
I think it is totally appropriate to be friendly with your supervisor and to have a good relationship but I don’t think you can ever really be friends. You may do or say something on a personal friendly level and the other person can easily receive it on the employee/employer level and then there are hurt feelings.
Let me give an example from my personal experience. This incident happened to me several years ago.
I had developed a friend relationship with my supervisor. At the same time I was going through several things emotionally and spiritually. I had been away from my home for almost two years, living in a part of the country that was very foreign to me. My wife was also homesick and we had some difficulties with a program we had started. We also had a former employer trying to recruit us back to a place we really enjoyed but didn’t pay much so it would have been a financial struggle to accept.
One day I was in my supervisors office discussing a situation in which I didn’t think policies of the home were very fair toward my birth children. He started going into how he was going to stop hiring houseparents with kids and how houseparents with kids are such a problem. I was looking for a friend and he went all supervisor on me. I felt a little hurt. Though it wasn’t the reason we accepted that other position, it was one of the final straws that pushed us over the edge.
Thinking back, I realize how stupid of a decision it was. You should never make career decisions based upon emotion, but thankfully things all worked out. I am now very good friends with that supervisor, however he is no longer my supervisor.
We had another situation today with our current supervisor to help me get my perspective back. But that is probably a good thing it was probably a little out of focus anyway. Friends are friends, supervisors are supervisors. One can’t be both.