“But-but-but dude, how do you know when they’re ready?”
“Well, you never really know. But when they’ll know, you’ll know, you know?”
For those of you who still have not figured it out, this is part of the exchange conversation between two parents: Marlin the clownfish, and Crush the sea turtle, in one of Pixar’s most successful movies ‘Finding Nemo’.
Diversity among individuals and couples has bred an equal array with respect to parenting techniques. However, all parents must invariably reach a point in their lives when they believe it prudent to allow their children a greater degree of autonomy. The ultimate complication with this idea is the time factor. WHEN do parents allow children to make their own decisions?
The answer may not be as simple. Yet again, individuality – of both parents and children – comes into play. Ideally, parents should adopt a technique representative of being authoritative, facilitative and equally supportive at appropriate times. They need to realize that since siblings rarely tend to behave alike (or even similar at times) therefore, stricter rules for one may not seem reasonable for the other in certain situations. In each case, parents must strive to loosen their reins as much as possible to attain their children’s trust so that they value their opinions and respect decisions proposed by them.
Most parents expect their children to demonstrate high levels of ‘responsibility’ during their teens; but the transition from adolescence to becoming an adult is not an easy and untangled journey for either the children or their parents. Parents should gradually guide children towards being responsible for various daily activities such as ironing their clothes, keeping their rooms in order etc. while giving them their personal space all along. It is worth noting here that this is the point in time when children go through puberty and would actually appreciate advice instead of orders, and a helping hand rather than an authoritative one.
Of course there are instances where parents need to put their foot down but such instances may not be as frequent as most parents fear it to be. Parents also need to realize that their children belong to a different generation than their own and hence, may have to be accommodating. Owing to the communication gap and the increased advancements in technology, it may be argued that it leaves little room for a ‘quality discussion’ pertaining to such matters between either. More importantly, parents need to make their children understand that they have been through the same phases and will entrust them with responsibilities when deemed appropriate by both parties. So, when should parents entrust teens with responsibilities? There is no definite time line. It falls as part of the parents’ duty to give their children a childhood and eventually delegate to them their responsibilities as adults. The change needs to be slow yet definitive and needs to be custom-made for each child. There will always be errors, but these are the stepping stones to mould each parent and child in to a wiser person and a healthy relationship eventually.