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?



  1. A lot of those decisions are a bot of a ways off yet (LOL) but I still have an opinion! =) Parents seem these days to have skewed ideas about responsibility, and I think that independence is one major area. How do they allow them so many of the priviledges that you mentioned, but not teach them how to save money and prepare financially for their futures? The problem? Children/teens are brought up by their peers - peers teach them everything! Parents really don't seem to have any say. What a sad state things have got to!

  2. I agree with Bets - children are not given GOOD responsibilities - they are treated maturely but don't have the maturity to make wise decisions. And the peer thing is WAY too much. Instead of being wise themselves, parents often make decisions based on what others think.
    Of course I'm not up to the point of having to make many of these decisions. I think when we make these decisions, we need to remember verses from the Bible like this one - Proverbs 22:15 "Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child". They don't have the capabilities to make decisions and that is why God gave them parents!!

  3. You are quite right Bets and Clara, peers play such a critical role with the modern child/teenager. Parents now have very little say in things (eg the way the child dresses to the parties they go to) and for a parent to say NO involves a lot of effort and energy that busy (stretched) parents don’t seem to have any more (I certainly know what happens when you say NO to a 18 year old - it can create all sorts of dramas that can be exhausting!). So they give in.

    Just walk around the shopping malls during school holidays and see the number of young children in groups without adult supervision. It is quite a worrying sight.

  4. Jo, like you most of mine are grown but the standing rule is never ever get in a car with a driver who has been drinking. Your mother would much rather be woken out of a sound sleep & venture forth in the freezing cold to pick you up than you were so brainless as to get in a car with a drunk! Even their friends will ring here, knowing there will be a sober adult prepared to come & pick them up.

    As for the rest, so much depends on the child concerned ~ & whose money it is they are spending! My money? I get the final say. Their money? I stay out of my young adults business; my teen gets negotiated with so we are all happy.

    Liddy, who had gladular fever, ross river & CFS when we pulled her out of school got a mobile at 15 to help her keep in touch. Star, nearly 16, still doesn't have one & dropped mine in a puddle so now neither of us has one.

    Liddy, travelled a lot on public transport alone from about 12 [to & from school & to sporting events], Star almost never because she has the sort of curves that attract attention but not the maturity to deal with unwanted male attention.

    I do not think you can give a blanket answer. Biblically males weren't considered mature enough to serve in the temple or go to war until they were 25 & having 3 boys I think that's only too reasonable.

    Star, as a homeschooler, sets her own bedtime. So long as her work gets done I don't care what hours she keeps. However I still keep close tabs on who she sees & when & I drive her to her friends & pick her up again. I dislike children wandering the streets aimlessly so don't encourage even harmless but aimless activity.

  5. Interesting topic,but I am so behind you Jo as my dd is just 7. I think we will ALL look back when our kids have grown up and realise we made mistakes, that's just us being human! In the meantime I pray for wisdom each day in parenting and all other areas of my life lol!

  6. Ganeida - It really does depend on the child. My eldest, Tristan needed me to drive him around quite a bit as a teenager as he would simply get lost as he was hopeless with directions. Whilst his younger brother can get himself where-ever he needs to, however, after a nasty event a few years ago I am much more vigilant about letting him do that as I want him to come home in one piece.

    AS you say, a call late at night is far better than a horror car accident.

    Once mine reached a certain age, I also let them decide on their sleeping and generally it is ok, but questionable at times!!


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