At what age . . . . do you?
What age have you or would you allow your child to:
- Catch a bus alone?
- Walk to the shops alone?
- Stay overnight at a friend’s homes?
- Alone in the house while you go out?
- Go to a party?
- Go shopping with friends and buy their own clothing?
- Decide when it’s their bedtime, what to watch on TV etc..
One Queensland mother is now on 12 months' probation for allowing her daughter, 12, and a friend (aged 11) to wander around the Brisbane annual Exhibition not in the company of adults (even though the parents were also there). Is 12 too young to go off unsupervised in an entertainment precinct? Personally I think so, but I don't think punishing the mother is the right way to go.
In a recent online survey by the Raising Children Network regarding these very issues, this is what parents thought:
- Most parents believed that by the age of 12 children should be able to decide, by themselves, what to wear. (perhaps this explains the clothing we are seeing pre-teen girls wear)
- Broad agreement also existed amongst parents that by the age of 14 children should be able to use Facebook and Twitter, decide what television shows they watch, own their own mobile telephone, and go shopping at a large centre without parental supervision.
- By 15 parents felt their children should be able to make decisions ranging from the websites they visit, the time they go to bed, the movies they watch and the school they attend.
- By 16 they can stay at a friend's house when they chose
- And 17 before owning decisions like what time they come home at night.
It is hard to know when to let go . . . being over protective (“helicopter” parent) isn’t a good idea once they reach a certain age in their teens, but knowing what that age is, is the tricky bit—I probably got it wrong on occassions, I know I did. I still pick up my 18 year old from friends homes (he can’t drive as yet) as I dislike the idea of him catching buses at night—his safety is more important, even if it is an inconveniences at times. I still like to know where he is, and I like to know what he has been up to. Things can go wrong so quickly (even in the middle of the day) and having had one bad expereince where this did happen, I would never want it to happen again.
I don't know if I got it right with my sons, it is a bit of a guessing game in some respects. What might work for one child or teenager may not work for another. Peer pressure play a big part . . . I use to hear this a lot "my friend's mum is ok with this, why aren't you", when I would say no to a request. To be honest, is it because I care more, I want to protect my children more? I am sometimes amazed at what some parents allow their children to do.
There is so much evil in the world, I (like many of you) want to protect our children forever, we can't do that . . . they need to become independent at some stage . . . but when? The only way I know is through pray and trusting in the Lord. What other way is there?