Independence for teenagers is necessary in developing maturity


Sophie Whyte

Helicopter parents
Photo by Mikaela Acton

Commonly stated as RBHS’ motto, “freedom with responsibility” can be applied to all aspects of life, including parenting. Most high schoolers are not yet parents, but they can understand the relationship between child and guardian. Teens are notorious for complaining of overprotective and nosy parents, and parents complain of unruly teenagers. There is some truth in both of these claims, as some parents do not give freedom and some teens do not behave responsibly which is understandable. All humans are imperfect.

At home, I am not assigned chores or specific jobs. While it is easy to take advantage of this and not do any work around the house, I know I need to chip in. I generally like clean clothes, so I know I need to do my laundry. It is my responsibility, but I have the freedom of how and when I choose to help with chores. If I neglect this duty, my parents will let me know.

The opportunities that come from not being constantly nagged or watched by my parents allows me to cultivate a sense of independence in my personality. When I grow up and am an adult, I won’t be able to rely on my parents to clean my house (as much as I would love that).

Along with independence, there is a greater sense of trust in parent-child relationships that use a freedom with responsibility ideology. Trust is hard to create in any relationship, yet is the fulcrum from which all strong bonds begin with. If parents do not trust their children, their teens cannot grow into self-reliant, dependable adults. My parents trust that I will get my homework done, and I know I need to meet that expectation not only for my grades, but to show myself and my family that I am responsible. 

Perhaps most well known and dreaded parenting style from a teenager’s point of view, is “helicopter parenting”. Helicopter parents do not leave their children alone: they must be involved in every aspect of the child’s life, governing everything from their academics to their social life to their hobbies. A study led by Holly H. Shiffrin at the University of Mary Washington found that children have higher rates of depression and feelings of incompetence as a result of helicopter parenting. The more children rely on their parents to do all their work, the less they will feel equipped to deal with situations on their own and they will also feel a lack of purpose.

It may be easy to misinterpret this as a rant against authority, however there is equal responsibility between guardian and child when it comes to freedom. Giving teens freedom is a dangerous game. Kids do make mistakes– a lot. That is where the responsibility comes into play.

Stereotypically in movies and TV, adolescents are out of control. It is vital to break this misconception if you ever want to be given freedom by your guardians. First show your parents that you are worthy of their trust, then you can expect more privileges.

To be treated like an adult, it is necessary to act like one. Some situations are different, and unfortunately some parents will not respond to maturity by giving more freedom, but regardless: acting responsibly will improve relationships, most notably between parent and child.
By Sophie Whyte