When do you start giving kids their independence?

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Last edited by kat180; 01-25-2014 at 03:20 PM.
I think it depends on people. I was pretty much forced to catch the bus from school by 12. my sister on the other hand didn't have to do it until around 15 or 16. maybe even older (17?) I was forced to grow up and be independent. I was suppose to have an gov, issued id, but no one would take me so i had to wait until I was no longer a minor and could do stuff my self. if i was this 16 year old, i would still be at school waiting for someone to get me. I might as well just move in.

But if i was the 16 yeard old sister who had to catch a bus to get her, she would have to learn fast to fend for herself.
I think it has as much to do with location as with the parents themselves. By the time both my sister and I were 11, we were walking to school by ourselves or with friends. At 12, we took the city bus to school with friends or by ourselves. My BFF's daughter started middle school this year and she's taking the city bus by herself to school. Generally, children reared in suburban or rural environments gain independence at later ages, but I think it's primarily due to the fact that public transportation is limited in those areas.
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I was walking to my elementary school not too long after my mother took me a few times, so I was nine or so. Walked to middle school. Subway to get to high school.

My out of high school cousin (20) still has my aunt doing laundry for her. She also doesn't eat almost any foods other than junk and my aunt usually has to cook her separate foods from the what she cooks for herself and her husband. It's kind of funny since my aunt is a really critical person and used to criticize my mom and other aunt for how they raised their kids.

Last edited by Saria; 07-02-2012 at 07:47 AM.
I think it depends on the parents, the area, and sometimes the child. Some kids are slower to develop independence. I do see more parents today that don't want to let go, in the slightest, but I also know a few with children in their late 30's and early 40's who do the same. My parents fall in this category. My father and I have been butting heads for years! My older brothers were expected to watch me like a hawk. One said catch ya' later, and the other stuck like glue. When they could no longer watch me after school I had to take the bus to my moms office. I was 13. My senior year I was allowed to go home alone but only if a friend drove me, and my father expected them to escort me inside. Apparently I was born utterly helpless because I was the baby girl. I had to spend several years fighting and rationalizing for more freedom at age 18, but it came with a catch. He still throws fits when told that I'm going out, which I rarely do. He calls at least 5 times a day. He expects me to call him when I get to a grocery store, or work, and when I return home. Uh, no!! He has slowed down some but will never stop. I've had to ignore him (mass phone calls and requests that is. i love him, he's just incredibly over protective) and force him to deal with the fact that I'm not 12 anymore. They didn't raise a helpless idiot, but unknowingly tried.

In other words... I think this girl might have to fight against her parents, when and if she is ready.

*and my dad is the first one to spout off about the things in my life that helped me gain independence. lol

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Last edited by Fifi.G; 07-02-2012 at 09:39 AM.
I don't know if it's about when to give kids independence, vs. encouraging independence in people in general. Personally, I think independence is a very valuable quality. I know too many people who don't do ANYTHING by themselves. Ever. I think that is a huge flaw. I think everyone should be taught how to take public transportation by themselves, how to walk into a room (or a restaurant, or a party) by themselves, how to buy groceries by themselves, etc.

I have a friend who's adult (20-something) sister comes to visit very regularly from another city. She takes the train. Every single time my friend meets her sister at the station, and they take a cab back to her apartment together. WHY can't the visiting sister just get a cab to the aparmtent herself?! I just don't get it.

I would have though the advent of cell phones would have helped the situation. With a cell phone, you're never really alone because if something bad happens, or you get really lost, you can always call someone. But cell phones seem to have had the opposite effect. Now you NEVER have to walk into a bar/restaurant alone because you just wait outside and call your friend and they come get you! It's pathetic.


So anyway, I think children should be given appropriate amounts of independence from birth. I don't think you can just heap it on someone who has never been given the steps along the way. But yes, I think a 16 year old doesn't need a babysitter, and should be able to ride the bus alone after learning the ropes.
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I have teenage boys (17 and 14) and I take them to and from school most days, more out of habit than anything, and it's cheaper than buying them bus tickets all the time! If I'm working, or busy doing something, they'll find their own way quite easily, so for us it's not a lack of independence, it's just convenience really. Not to say I don't find their increasing independence challenging at times, it's hard to let go sometimes!
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Have you asked your friend why she does this?

No, I don't plan to take my kids to/from school when they are teenagers.

I rode the schoolbus to and from school until I was 9. After that, there was no schoolbus for me to ride, so I caught public transportation.

I started flying on planes alone when I was 8.
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I think independence is something that parents should encourage and foster, and it should be done gradually from a young age. For example, if my kid were going to need to take a city bus by himself, I'd ride the bus together to familiarize him with where the bus stop is, how to pay, which stop to get off at, etc. Make sure he knew how to do each step before sending him on his own.

Even little kids can start doing things independently. I was at the Navy Pier in Chicago a few weeks ago with my kids. The 5-year-old wanted to ride one of the rides, which he was barely tall enough for. The 3-year-old and I didn't/couldn't ride. So I stood in line with him and helped him give his ticket to the ticket-taker, but he rode it by himself. Of course, I was standing at the exit keeping an eye on him the whole time. He was proud and excited to do it by himself and be a big kid.
My college roommate and her friends lacked independence. They used to ask me to go to the doctor's office with them. I would ask them why and they would tell me: "So we can sit in the waiting room together!", now just imagine my reaction...

My mother was a single-parent from birth until even now, honestly. She had to work all the time so my brother and I had to take the metro bus home when we were in elementary school. I eventually took the bus by myself, had to walk home myself, sometimes went to the corner store to buy myself my OWN candy (I must've been 7). I was forced to be independent at a young age. I got my first JOB as soon as I turned 16 and I have bought my own clothes, makeup, cellphone, laptop, car, car insurance, health insurance ever since. My mom didn't have the money to make me "ballin'". Everything I currently have, I bought it myself.

So when I went to university I was SHOCKED. So many of the people I met were so dependent on their parents. I lived abroad by myself for months, and yet these kids can't even stay on campus for a week without running home to their parents.

Most of them, their cars were bought by their parents, their parents pay for the insurance, they are in their twenties and never had a job. They're spoiled and think that money falls from trees. I have never met such dependent people in my life in college! How can you be 21 years old and never had a job?! A lot of the students I knew acted like entry level jobs were "beneath them". I'm sorry, but you gotta' start somewhere. They were all so entitled as well.

I had to separate myself from them because and start hanging out with people who were hardworkers and knew the value of a dollar. I even had a friend yelling at her parents because she wanted to bring "HER" car to school. When it wasn't her car, her parents bought it and it was in their name. And they were paying for her apt. I feel if your parents are going to do all that, at least be grateful. Her parents paid 100% for school and parking permits on campus are $500, so I can understand why they didn't bring it because it was too expensive for me to bring my car as well.

I once took the bus with them downtown and the whole time they were complaining about how disgusting it was. They were in their 20's and never rode a bus. Since they, I haven't bothered to go DT with them.

I think some parents shelter their kids too much. And what you usually get is spoiled adults who think everything is beneath them
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Last edited by sleepymeko; 07-02-2012 at 01:30 PM.
As a 15 year old girl I can say that, from a mature point of view, there really is no set age. Its about feeling comfortable. This year I was a grade 9 student who was dropped and picked up from school. This was not forced, it was by choice. I have a younger sister who needs rides anyway. It was best economicly. However, when a situation arised where it would be cheaper and easier for me to walk home, such as exam week, I did. In my opinion, independence shoulf depend on maturity and ecoconomics. Because somebody who is really mature would not push away their family in order to have "independence". It is also about trust and the childs confidence. My parents trust me enough not to smother me but are smart enough to keep a watchful eye out. It really is about maturity and trust. However, every kid should be given a certain amount of freedom should they wish it. Also, keep in mind that building independance is nessasary for later in life.

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I don't know if it's about when to give kids independence, vs. encouraging independence in people in general. Personally, I think independence is a very valuable quality. I know too many people who don't do ANYTHING by themselves. Ever. I think that is a huge flaw. I think everyone should be taught how to take public transportation by themselves, how to walk into a room (or a restaurant, or a party) by themselves, how to buy groceries by themselves, etc.
Agree. My parents (i.e. MOM) were somewhat overprotective (only child) but I still was able to manage just fine once I went off to college and subsequently after when I graduated.


And, as an aside, why is a 20-something going and picking up her teenage sister from school? Doesn't she have her own life and more importantly, a job? Seems odd.
Seems odd to me. I was walking to an from after school care until I was 12 and after that my brother and I were on our own until our parents came home at 6.

At 12 I was able to babysit


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Last edited by kat180; 01-25-2014 at 03:21 PM.
I walked to school (although it was quite close to my house) when I was about 10. And again in Jr high at 14. I always waited for the bus at the end of my street.

I also got ready for school while home alone, and came home from school to an empty house at age 9 and 10. I went around the whole town on my bike by the time I was 13. Would I allow my kids to do that? Probably not. Things weren't a hundred percent safe then, and they're even farther from it now.

I live in a small town. Many people don't even lock their doors around here. Its a fairly safe area, but I know there's a convicted sex offender down the street. Even small towns aren't immune.

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I don't know if it's about when to give kids independence, vs. encouraging independence in people in general. Personally, I think independence is a very valuable quality. I know too many people who don't do ANYTHING by themselves. Ever. I think that is a huge flaw. I think everyone should be taught how to take public transportation by themselves, how to walk into a room (or a restaurant, or a party) by themselves, how to buy groceries by themselves, etc.
Agree. My parents (i.e. MOM) were somewhat overprotective (only child) but I still was able to manage just fine once I went off to college and subsequently after when I graduated.


And, as an aside, why is a 20-something going and picking up her teenage sister from school? Doesn't she have her own life and more importantly, a job? Seems odd.
Originally Posted by LAwoman
We're all back at our parents homes since graduating two years ago lol. She's a freelance illustrator so she works from home. But I agree its not something she should really have to do - for either of them.
Originally Posted by kat180
Oh I see. Hmmm, yeah...guess they have a different "dynamic" in their family. Definitely not something I'd be OK with if I were your friend (or the 16 year old!)
It depends on the kid I guess. My kids are generally a bit more mature than some, but not my 5 year old. Try not to judge them. They are doing what they think is best for their daughter.
I feel like I have to point out that the person accusing a 16 year old of lacking independence is back living at home with her parents. In sure you have your reasons and they have theirs. If your friend is going to move into her parents' home after college, I think it's only right that she help out.

Last edited by CGNYC; 07-03-2012 at 11:02 PM.
Interesting! I was responsible for getting me and my little sister home from school as of 7th grade. So I was 12-13 riding the metro with my 9-10 year old sister...our mother gave us her cell phone so she could keep in touch with us from work lol. I didn't and don't think that riding the bus at that age made me independent. It made me responsible for myself and my sister...but not independent.

In general, my parents have given me quite a bit of freedom. Much more than my younger sister--probably because I'm such a stick in the mud compared to her Usually, I'm pretty wise with that freedom and I appreciate that my parents trust me enough to feel confident in my decisions. However, I've never yearned for or really had "independence". I've never been "not dependent" on my family, and I hope to never be. The word just has hugely negative connotations for me. Isolated, without support...without GIVING support....

I graduated from college a month ago. I moved back home right after I left the dorm. I pay my parents a bit of "rent" and do my chores around the house. I plan to stay here for the next 4 years while I do a year of service and then law school. I don't feel stifled or put upon. Actually, I feel grateful that my family's able to support me in my time of...well, basically, poverty.

I'll be making about 1k a month until 6/13. I'll probably make even less than that once I start law school. How stupid would I be to pass up the opportunity to live at home in the name of some hyped up idea of "independence"? The money I DO make, I can put towards my family's rent and my savings. That seems infinitely smarter than paying some strange landlord who cares nothing about me.

Interestingly enough, my non-American classmates were much more responsible than those who were American born. They pay their (and sometimes other fam members) cell phone bills. They handle doc's appointments, they did their own financial aid (lol), they helped take care of their families. And after graduation? The vast majority of them went back to live with their families. If they couldn't make it back to the nuclear family in country of origin, they found relatives abroad and made it work. They didn't have any of the so-called "pride" or independence that kept so many of my American friends from moving back home. The same American friends who have their parents help pay their rent, have to be REMINDED by their parents to pay rent, can't figure out their own car insurance, and don't contribute financially or physically/emotionally (how can they when they don't live at home) to the family unit.

To me, responsibility seems very different from independence. And independence isn't as laudable as the American DreamTM makes it out to be.
Loooooooooong tangent, but basically I'm sorta weary of hearing about the "independence" thing from some of my peers.

As for the actual topic...different strokes for different folks. If the daughter doesn't feel stifled, I wouldn't worry about it. Riding the bus at a young age doesn't guarantee that people will turn out right....escorting a teenager home from school doesn't mean that she'll turn into a dysfunctional adult.
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Last edited by AmberBrown; 07-03-2012 at 11:33 PM.
I feel like I have to point out that the person accusing a 16 year old of lacking independence is back living at home with her parents. In sure you have your reasons and they have theirs. If your friend is going to move into her parents' home after college, I think it's only right that she help out.
Originally Posted by CGNYC
I'm not accusing anyone of anything nor am I judging anyone, and I don't think my posts came across that way either.

I was curious to hear other people's take on it, because it seems unusual to me. Going off everyone else experiences on here so far, a lot of people were walking to school, like I was at a much younger age. I've found the responses here interesting to read and personally think the thread has generated at interesting discussion. People's experience on the subject seems very much dependent on where they grew up/culture they live in. There was nothing malicious in my post and I certainly hope they didn't come across that way.
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Last edited by kat180; 01-25-2014 at 03:26 PM.

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