This is a parent’s opinion on a child’s freedom which appeared in today’s paper.
Don’t give children too much freedom
I read with dismay the case of the 21-year-old student who went missing at a shopping mall in Ipoh (The Star, Oct 26).
My daughter is 15 and used to pester my husband and me to grant her the freedom to roam the malls with her friends.
On the one hand, we do not wish to deprive her of her right to enjoy herself in the company of friends. On the other, we fear the worst; she may be tricked by bad hats, drugged, raped or much worse.
Besides exercising control over children’s behaviour and the company they keep, parents of teenagers should also keep abreast of the latest craze, singers, movie stars, fashion so that they can share these with their children.
Call me old-fashioned but I believe that children should not be given too much freedom to go out on their own. It’s up to parents to nurture their young minds so that when the time is right they are able to differentiate between right and wrong in a mature manner.
This is sulz’s reply from a child’s perspective.
I understand your point of view, having read these newspaper reports about girls being kidnapped, raped, drugged and whatnot by sinister characters in our society.
In my opinion, it is not the age you should judge to grant freedom upon, but rather the level of the individual’s maturity. You mentioned the report of the missing 21-year-old girl. She is six years older than your daughter and yet she does not display the maturity that should come with her age or a sense of being streetwise for her to go missing (assuming that she did not fake her disappearance or voluntarily vanished and is genuinely in danger). Your daughter could be young, but if she has a good head between her shoulders, she would be less likely to fall prey to tricksters than her peers of lesser maturity.
I also realise that misfortune can happen to the best of us, no matter how aware or prepared we are. Mollycoddling can only do so much; it doesn’t mean that when your daughter is granted more freedom when she is older she is less susceptible to being conned. Haven’t we read of reports about far older women being raped or kidnapped?
It is quite commendable that you are of the opinion that parents should find common ground with their teenage children by getting acquainted with the fads and trends so associated with their age. However, no matter how well informed you are of Paris Hilton’s latest beau or the lyrics to Justin Timberlake’s SexyBack, a parent cannot be a substitute for peer companionship. Your daughter still needs to cultivate relationships with friends her own age for her social development and building her self-esteem.
My parents allowed me to go out with my friends unchaperoned ever since I was thirteen. I admit I was really far from mature then. I met up with some Internet chat friends once. I was lucky, however, that they are really nice guys whom I had managed to keep in touch for several years after that meeting. But I also had the common sense to have two girlfriends to come with me to meet the guys in a crowded shopping mall.
My parents never said no whenever I wanted to go out, as long as I don’t spend excessively and come back by dinner time. On special occasions like parties I am allowed to come back by midnight the latest. I know my parents are a little worried whenever I go out at night, but they never stop me. They always made sure, of course, of who I was going out with and I must leave my friends’ handphone numbers if they have any (I didn’t have one then).
This is an issue of maturity and a parent’s ability to let the child go. Being overprotective of your child can somewhat hinder the process of maturity.