They are children themselves, sorting their own wounds and dysfunctions. In many ways it is children raising children and not infrequently the children must become the mature person and raise above the craziness. I wish you fortitude to know that they are only human, and flawed. Sift through what you are told and keep the good and discard the bad.
When a kid is young, they can’t decide many things or themselves so parents do it for them (paternalistically) for their own good. If parents were sufficiently respectful to the kid, they act as the child would decide for themselves when they had enough experience and smarts to make their own decisions. This is something very different. People don’t get to decide for other people what is “For their own good,” what’s in their “best interest.” We decide for ourselves what our legitimate interests are. That’s what parents decide for themselves.
Sometimes parents can’t get it in their head that at a certain age kids are at least starting to know what they want and have good reasons for it. They can not give up a sense of authority over the child, thinking it’s their place to decide for her/him “While you’re still under my rook young lady/man.”
On the other hand, kids think they know what they’re doing fine before they really do. They see parental denial of what they want to as the authoritarian incursion of ogres on their proper liberty and merited self-determination. This only reassures the parent that their kid is not ready to make her/his own decision.
We should be more mindful of the dilemma each side faces. Parents are scared for their kids. They’re afraid of not being responsible and wise enough as a parent. Too scared and afraid. They’re often worried about finances too—with kids spending like this can I keep the family afloat, have enough savings, enough for a college fund.
Science is somewhat on their side on the danger matter. Teens experience greater development in brain areas interested in adventure, taking on risks, than those of prudence and caution. They have a certain sense of invulnerability, So left to their own devices, even if they’re aware, smart as a whip, and able to make a good argument for doing X or Y, their judgment may be off. It’s likely to be off in a perilous way on some matters.
Still parents over-estimate risk from their side as well, out of concern. They don’t distinguish supervision over dangers from just supervision, not needed, not fair.
My wife and I were rare parents, anarchist parents for the most part. We tried to model sensibleness, level-headedness, always thinking out what we did, why we interacted with our kids, along with them. We didn’t deny anything, but spoke about how we would see them, especially if we were in the kids’ place. I was stunned by how much things made sense from their perspective which I thought were just crazy and spendthrift from mine. We tried to provide better, more fun options for our kids to do than options that seemed reckless or a bad value to us. Otherwise, we let our kids make their own decision and even pushed them to be self-determining even when they thought they couldn’t.
“Dad, I’m only a 7 year old kid? How can you ask me to do that?” or “Why did you let me watch Jurassic Park, I had nightmares about it.” “Well Emma, everyone has nightmares.
Because we let the kids do things none of the parents did, we were not admired for our approach. But the thing is, our kids learned to be self-determining much earlier and much better. They became unusually well-behaved because they knew the reasons to do so. But they conformed less because they saw no reason to.
Teacher: “Your kid is magnificent, he helps the other kids, he’s so popular, cooperative, admired, a real leader…blah, blah, blah. The only problem is he asked for a reason for just about everything I tell the class to do when he disagrees with it.”
Me: “That’s a problem? Don’t you have a good reasons?”
I suspect that partly because our kids got anything they asked for they never ever called us mean. That would be hilarious to suggest to them. But more important, they almost never asked for anything. They had to much freedom and respect to ask for mere things. Is that you? You rarely ask for anything? You rarely ask to do anything unless it makes a lot of sense and is inexpensive?