When should you give your child freedom?

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As parents, it can be tough to give our child freedom. Their life begins in our arms and slowly they become more and more independent. The sad truth is that one day we will put a child down and never pick it up again. All kids must grow up. The tough question is what restrictions should you place on your child. At what point are you being too protective compared to just being a good parent. A new survey looks into exactly this.

The main topics discussed in the survey were attitudes to child freedom. The freedom to wear makeup, to use a smartphone, to stay out after dark, to use public transport alone. The survey asked 1,630 parents to get their understanding of when is the right time to let go a little. If you are a new parent you may be thinking that you will never let your child on public transport until they are 18 but in reality, we have to give these freedoms to our children little by little to teach them independence and to allow them to mature.

When it comes to makeup it is a hotly debated topic. There are two clear camps. There is one side who thinks makeup on children is absolutely harmless and they should be allowed to use it like any toy. On the other side, they see the pressures on women to look good and appear like something they are not increasing and becoming a problem for younger and younger women. The survey showed that everyone felt anyone under 5 should not be allowed to wear makeup, but after that, the opinion starts to split. 7 out of 10 men feel that children under the age of 16 should not be allowed to wear makeup. Women, however, appear more lenient with 40% of women believing that women aged 14 and older should be allowed to wear makeup. 

When it comes to technology it is a really tough question. This is an issue that most parents did not face themselves when they were children so it is completely new territory. 22% of parents believe that children aged 11 should be allowed a smartphone but this figure increases to 46% by the age of 13 and to 59% by the age of 14. The answer to this question really comes down to the maturity of your child and how much you can trust them on a smartphone. No matter what blocks you put on a smartphone it is possible to access the entire internet and children will find ways to access whatever they want if they so choose. The best way to approach it is to allow them a limited time on a smartphone if you know they can be trusted to stay away from suspect websites. By age 16, 85% of parents agree that children should be allowed to use a smartphone.

52% of parents say that children should be allowed out after dark at the age of 15 and 49% say that children should be allowed on public transport at the age of 12. Clearly there is not a certain age where everything becomes ok. At different ages, different allowances should be made. 

It is clear that there is a great variety in the parenting rules of different households. While some households are willing to let their child have a smartphone, wear makeup, stay out late and use public transport at the age of 12, others hold back these rights until the age of 16 or later. The decision should be made not based on the ideologies of the parent but on the maturity of the child. This is the only fair approach.