Are our teenagers as independent as we think they are? How do you view independence? Do you think that your teen has too much or not enough independence?
All parents view this differently and we’re often guided by when we think it is the right time for our children to do more based on what we did at that age, and also what their peers are doing. I also think it depends on the lifestyle you lead. For example, if you are a working parent whose child needs to come back to an empty house, or how streetwise your children are too.
By speaking to my mum friends, I have realised that we are all doing different things, and we all say we have independent children. Some of my son’s friends are getting Uber cabs, and others are being picked up from friends’ houses or the tube station. Some of them are travelling all over London and others are allowed to stick to certain areas.
Some are even going away with friends this summer (they are 17). Others aren’t ready for that, and I am not sure if it’s the child or perhaps the parents who aren’t ready for the child to do this. Some teens are doing everything for themselves and others are getting their beds made!
How Much Independence And When?
To some extent, parents need to be guided by their children, at the same time as keeping them safe. But note – safe, but not suffocated. They need to grow and spread their wings, and our job is to make sure they can live independently once they leave home.
Think about what your children do now and then think about how much more they need to do to be at that place. Which life skills do they need to build and how you can help them to achieve them?
Try not to compare to other teens and families. What independence means for one does not mean the same for another.