Too Much Freedom Versus Not Enough

No one ever told me raising kids would be so hard and have me second guessing myself so often. Sometimes I wish there was just an instruction manual hanging around that I could pick up and read. Sure, there are plenty of “experts” out there, but what qualifies them as experts? Just because they may have raised tons of “good” kids doesn’t mean their methods will work for you. Every household and child is different. So, my biggest dilemma now that my 12 year old is off to middle school and quickly approaching the land of teenage hell, is how much freedom to give him.

To be honest, it freaks me out when he is out of my site. It freaks me out that he now waits on the road behind the school with no adult supervision in site to be picked up, because that is how their parent pickup works. It freaks me out when he goes down two aisles in the store to look at the toys while I am looking at the clothes. It freaks me out when he rides his bike around the loop here by our house and I cannot see him. It just plain freaks me out!!!!!

I wish I could have kept him small forever, but I can’t. So, how do we know when we are giving enough freedom and not too much so that they hang themselves with it. I have seen the results of too much freedom often. Children whose parents trust they are being good and behaving and then find out their children have been getting into a ton of things they shouldn’t be. I don’t want that to happen, but at the same time, managing freedom and doing things on your own is part of growing up.

We are still navigating what level of freedom is right for us. If my oldest had his way he would probably move out tomorrow and live on his own, but that isn’t going to happen. Maybe I will let him go around the block without worrying for once though. Oh who am I kidding, I will always worry.

So what do you think? Are you struggling with this decision too? Have you see the results of too much freedom or not enough in children?


  1. I have beat myself up over this very thing for years. I have had other people tell me I am too strict, even my kids are like, "Mom! I never get to do anything!!" I like you freak out over them being 5 feet away when we are in public. My older ones rarely left my side. Our youngest though, is what I call a wanderer. He can wander off in a heartbeat. I still threaten to tie a rope on him. We find that sometimes we struggle with allowing them to do certain things. We just have to pray and allow God to help us decide. Just yesterday, (fyi – I have issues with my teens riding with other teens SO…) my 15 yr old texted me and wanted to ride with a friend to McDon*alds, during their break (they were at band practice) and I struggle with that every time…. "you can, but text me when you get there and when you get back" and then I pray and pray…. We started a rule when our daughter was in hs, you cannot ride with anyone that has had their license less than a year. She had no problem with that and she never called and asked to ride to McDonalds with anyone. And she wouldn't get her license. Until she was 18.
    Anyway, just do for your children what you feel is right. Not what other parents do (most are too lenient if you ask me). Oh yea, you will here "but so & so gets too" 1001 times, but God has given you your children and its your responsibility to lead and guide them, not so & so's parents. As mothers I think we all want to hold on as long as possible. But, I am learning times that I can extend the rope and when I must tighten the reins. Easy? NOPE? But necessary.

  2. Kids with do much freedom are just going to find trouble. I hate the parents that are like "kids will be kids". No, you need to be a parent and teach your kid. I think more parents need to be involved in their kids life. If you are, you will still worry about them when they are out of site. But you will also know that you have taught them what is right verses wrong and if they make the wrong choice there will be consequences.

  3. My daughter wants to do things that I think she is too young for. It's difficult to say no to her sometimes, but I have to. I had more freedom than she did at her age, but things were different back then. I think it's good for parents to be cautious.

  4. Well, I've seen those cell phones that show parents exactly where their kids are at all times, so that might give peace of mind if you're truly worried. But you don't have to let go all at once. Do it bit by bit as he earns it.

  5. That is a delicate balance. I grew up without enough freedom while my parents were practically neglected as kids. Hopefully Hubs and I will be able to give our children exactly what they need.

  6. Well, I know that that's the feeling my mom always feels.. but as a child, I'd tell you all the parents that despite all of your weakness, we all thank you for raising us.. and that's enough, don't push yourselves too hard since raising us is already hard :p

  7. i do not have kids yet so i do not know what this is like, but i do have a nephew and i just see my sister freaking out about things like this all the time.

  8. Right now I'm in the terrible twos. Enough said. nothing like teenage hell, but this is hell in and of itself some days.

  9. It is tough but I tell myself it is necessary for them in order to grow and learn responsibility. My husband is way worse then I am when it comes to being over protective.

  10. It's hard to find the right balance, I think. But my husband and I are both fairly over-protective. But honestly, in today's world… I'm okay with that. 🙂

  11. Thanks for the input everyone! The fact is, I am super over protective, but just as I feel too much freedom is a bad thing, I feel that too little could be as well. I try to give him as much as I can. But today he informed me that his teacher thinks the 6th graders are old enough to stay at home by themselves. They are 11 and 12. Just not sure I would ever be okay with that. I guess I will just keep trudging on LOL.

    Liz, I have heard about those too and am definitely going to get one when they start driving cars.

  12. I was given way too much freedom, and got into a lot of trouble. I allowed my son to be home alone for short times (under an hour) before he was a teen. When he became a teen (and before), the rules were simple. I had to know who he was with (actually know them…having spent time with them); I had to know where he would be (and I checked up on him a few times, just so he knew it was a possibility); and there had to be a purpose for going out. I didn't allow him to go "hang out" somewhere. Nothing good comes of that. He also had a curfew and overnights didn't happen unless I spoke to the parents. I made a rule that he had to be involved in at least one extra-curricular at school too, and I think that was one of the best rules we had for him. It may be strict, but it kept him out of trouble and he's a decent 20 year old today.

  13. You just have to remember #1 you are a parent and not a friend. I feel it is actually better to be flawing on the side of too little freedom versus too much freedom.
    It has always been my opinion that preteens and teens need as much supervision as very young children when it comes to knowing where they are at and what they are doing. A teen can end up in trouble very quickly that leads to life long consequences.
    Go with your heart- you know how far you can trust your children and as they gain more trust you will be able to let them go little by little.
    It's like letting the string out a bit more while flying a kite… soon they will be flying almost by themselves needing only the slightest correction to help them balance out .

  14. Mine are grown and I have grandchildren and guess what…I am STILL freaked out. It just doesn't end. I tend to worry about everything. If my grown children are on their way to work and I call and don't get an answer…I am freaked out. Just like you so what the answer is..I sure don't have a good one. These days are much worse than when my kids were younger so you really can't help but to worry as we protect them with all that we have. I know we can't be with them every minute of the day but sometimes I wish we could. A friend just lost their son who was only 19 as he went to a party and him and another decided to try a drug…something they preached about to him forever. There are times kids just think nothing bad can happen to them. Scary and bad choices!

  15. Balance is key for everything. You just have to trust that you have instilled enough self confidence, inner strength and values into your children that they will make the right decision. That being said, I am way overprotective!

  16. This is definitely something we struggle with since our oldest is entering the teen years. We want him to be independant but not make mistakes that will hurt him. So we really have to gauge what's appropiate for him. I also think it is going to be different for each child b/c of personalities and such.

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