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A milestone in the life of any person is the birth of their first child. Nothing quite compares to the feeling you get when you look down and see the eyes of this little human that you helped create. The joy felt by new parents is almost indescribable. However, this moment passes too quickly and the little human grows up. From the first crawl to the first step to the first words ever spoken, all these little milestones bring great joy to new parents every day. This joy is naturally associated with a great deal of hardship. Parents struggle to give their children the very best. They worry for their safety, their education and their future. They nurture the child and provide them with a good environment to grow in and develop. A child will generally adore their parents and are thankful for the sacrifices they make. When the child reaches adolescence and hits the teenage years there is an undeniable shift in momentum. This change is unfortunately inevitable, and due to this period in a child’s life, many say that parents cannot control teenagers. While it is certainly true that is it difficult to control teenagers, it is hard to speculate with certainty that parents cannot control teenagers. It is also not correct to state that parents have no right to control the lives of a child above 16. Because they do: and when they are involved it creates a better future for the child, due to many variables such as financial stability, guidance and affection, among other things. The individual has a better percentage for success due to parental involvement.
Teenage rebellion is the cause of the controversy that surrounds parents and their right to control a child above the age of 16. Adolescent rebellion is the main characteristic associated with children aged 14-18. In some cases rebellion can start pre maturely at the age of 9 and can last up until the teenager goes past their teenage years into young adulthood. Children usually rebel against society or parental authority. Rebelling is like second nature to a teenager and comes naturally. They don’t necessarily rebel to hurt their parents but this disobedience causes conflict. And this conflict is the reason why some believe that parents should let go of the reigns of their children’s lives after they turn 16.
Irreconcilable Differences is a Hollywood movie in which the actress Drew Barrymore plays a nine year old girl who divorces her parents. While it may sound hysterical to some, this is actually a practice that takes place in the world today. The official term for the bizarre idea of a child divorcing their parents is emancipation. Emancipation is when the child obtains legal rights from a court of law to separate from their parents due to irreconcilable differences. It is the same premise of divorce, but involves two different parties. While emancipation is accepted among society today, it was not considered normal in the 19th and 20th centuries. Styles and forms of parenting have rapidly changes. In the past parents have had more freedom to discipline their children however they deemed fit: spanking and yelling were encouraged to promote good behavior. On the other hand in modern society, if a parent lays a hand of their child it can be considered abusive, they might even be taken to court. The word ‘no’ is generally discouraged in the practice of modern parenting. These shifts in the ideals of parenting have caused a rift among the relationship between a child and parent, and brought up questions as to what extent a parent should control the life of a teenager.
Another perspective we must examine when discussing the issue of parental control after the age of 16, is cultural background. They are a few major differences about how children are raised in Western cultures as opposed to how they are raised in Eastern cultures. It is generally believed that children who come from Eastern cultures have stricter parents who don’t let them ‘leave the nest’ at an early age. From their formative years, children from Western backgrounds are urged to venture outside the box and gain independence. They usually leave home at the age of 18 to peruse education or other career oriented dreams. Parents encourage children to go out into the world whereas Eastern parents encourage children to stay close to home as a measure of protection. This is why the notion of the amount of control a parent should have on a child’s life varies from culture to culture. It can also vary based on individual beliefs.
A child is formed by their parents. They spend 9 months in their mother’s womb, and mothers usually endure the painful process of labor to bring their child into this world. Parents earn money and raise children, providing them with everything they need to the best of their ability for a long period of time. This entitles them to a certain amount of right to the child’s life. After pouring resources and investing so much, why should they not get anything in return? If an investor invested a large sum of money and time into a business, he would do everything in his power to reap his rewards and make that business successful. In the early stages of life, a child accomplishes many achievements. However, these achievements pale in comparison to the achievements they will accomplish after the age of 16. Graduation, weddings, and the birth of a first child: these are all milestones in a person’s life and are generally accomplished after the age of 16. Parents have a right to a say in these major events and they also have a right to attend these major events. Every little thing a child accomplishes brings so much joy to a parent and they have a right to partake in these momentous occasions.
‘At 1.3 trillion dollars, America’s pile of student loan debt is near-incomprehensible in size’ (Kopf, 2018) it is common knowledge that in western cultures students take loans to pay for their higher education. Parents are generally only expected to pay for high school, which is an obligation. Higher education is more of a choice. Parents might help in acquiring these loans, but they are generally placed under the student’s name. On the other hand, the procedure in Eastern cultures is a little bit different. Parents are expected to pay for their child’s higher education. If loans are taken from a financial institute, they are generally placed under the parents name and are paid off by the parents rather than the child. When parents have the freedom to have more control over a child’s life, this is beneficial to the child because it means financial stability. This financial security comes at a price, but when weighing out both sides, we can see that it is well worth the price. Life after the age of 16, is hard enough, with the added worry of finances it can become almost unbearable. It is therefore, better to surrender some of the control to your parents and secure financial stability.
There is a saying, ‘you should always trust grey hair, because it has been through more than you can ever imagine’ older people know more than we do, it is a fact. Most of the things that we experience as teenagers and most if these emotions and feelings that we are trying to navigate and sort through, they have already experienced. When going through a difficult situation, it is always better to trust the wisdom of your parents. In a majority of the situations, they have your best interests at heart and want to see you succeed. This guidance can sometimes be misinterpreted as a form of being over bearing and controlling. If you were travelling from point A to point B and you knew an easier way to get to point B from point A, you would share this knowledge with others. This is done with good intention to make the lives of others easier. This is the same thing parents do, when they offer insight, suggestions and guidance. Not everything is a fight for control, not everything has to be a battle. We can offer them some room, to control certain situations so that we can avoid mistakes that they have already made. Parents often want better for their children than what they had, this can cause them to be a bit controlling and even pushy, but they do this with the child’s best interest at heart. Surrendering control is not the answer, understanding the intentions behind the need for control is the answer. When we examine the need, the intentions are clear: A better future for the child.
Peer pressure comes in many forms. It can be the pressure to smoke a cigarette, drink a beer or even the pressure to lose your virginity before you are ready. Peer pressure alters the way you think. It leads to many conflicts, mainly those between children and parents. When these conflicts occur a child is inclined to take the side of their peers. They fear that if they don’t do this it will lead to isolation and social anxiety. This usually rolls over into suicidal tendencies. Siding with peers usually presents itself as the safer option and adolescents tend to go this route and disregard the wishes of their parents. If a parent wasn’t in the picture, a child would have no one else to turn to other than their peers. This is a huge problem. Peers are generally people you associate with who are close to your own age. They are also still figuring out how to tackle the daily issues that life presents. In most cases solutions offered by peers rarely help adolescents and parents or elders can usually offer more effective guidance. The presence of a parent also increases the percentage of accountability. The saying is true, ‘you can never really control a teenager’ but the sense of accountability brought on by the presence of a parental figure, creates a sense of fear. This sense on fear subconsciously gets the child to think twice before acting out.
At the very core of even the most controlling parent is love, affection towards their child. Even the ‘tiger moms’ of South East Asia, who are known for overworking and controlling their children, have love at the core of everything they do. They overwork and berate their children because they want to see them succeed in the future. They have good intentions but express them in bad ways. People are different, everyone is unique, and so every parent has a different style of parenting and a different way of expressing love to their children. Loving parental support is critical at every age in a child’s life. This statement can be supported by a study done at UCLA. ‘a loving parental figure can alter neural circuits in children’ the presence of a positive parental figure can improve health throughout the lifespan of a child, while the lack of love and affection from a parental figure can take a mental and physical toll on a child’s life. A child may look to fill the lack of love from a parent through a variety of other sources. However, nothing can fill this void and the child can turn to many bad influences such as drugs and pornography. At any stage in the lifespan of a child, this love is required to form a whole and happy human being. This is an irreplaceable love and cannot be substituted by anything. It is essential for the child well beyond the age of 16.
When parents are still allowed to control children after the age of 16, it is ultimately better for both the child and the parent. We can see how there is more guidance and accountability. It is clear that the success rate for the future is also higher with parental involvement. The fact that parental love is essential for the growth and well being of a child is backed up by scientific facts. Despite these points people still believe that parental rights and control should be terminated by the age of 16 for the betterment of the child. People argue that children have the right to choose their own dreams and can become more independent, when parents let go of the reigns. They also state that it can be beneficial to parents because they are not burdened financially and can save for retirement.
Every person is entitled to their own rights. This statement applies to all children, irrespective of their age. When a child matures and reaches their late teenage years, they want to further evoke their own rights and begin questioning their parents. It is true that a child should be able to decide the major aspects of their future, but the issue is that a child’s brain is not equipped and not entirely capable to decide important decisions and require the assistance of a parent. Parental control doesn’t necessarily take away the right of a child. The child still has his or her individual right and can speak up at any point but has a safety net in the form of a parent. A controlling parent doesn’t mean that the child has no rights; it just means that the child’s rights are somewhat limited. And in this case the limitations are good, because it provided the child with a backup plan.
A key point of conflict between parents and children is when the child is getting ready to choose a career path. In most situations children lean towards what they are passionate about and parents, on the other hand, encourage a career path that offers more stability. Both view points are valid because if it is a passion oriented career, the child will enjoy it more and it if it is a financially stable career, it is a little more practical for the child’s future. Just because parents and children argue, it’s not grounds to terminate parental control. Severing an important relationship over one argument seems pointless. A much better option would be compromising and talking things out instead of talking irrational methods.
Perhaps, the strongest argument for the belief that parents should surrender control after a certain age is the fact that when they do a child becomes more independent. Independence is not something that comes easily to a child. It is not something that children gain on their own because they don’t have the skills, perspective or ability to naturally separate from their parents. Instead this independence is something that is given to children by well meaning parents. But if parental control and guidance is stopped rapidly and suddenly, the child is left lost. So it is true that parents should offer independence but it should be a smooth transition that is done over a period of time, rather than a rapid change in control. A child’s mind is not equipped to handle this sudden loss of parental control and they are more susceptible to go in the wrong direction. So while independence is a good thing, it should be acquired throughout a period of time and not rapidly after the age of 16.
Some argue that parents will have better financial stability for their future, if they surrender control of their children at an early age. In the United States it is estimated that a people ages 65 or up, spend an average of 45,756 dollars per year, which is roughly 3,800 dollars a month, to run their households’ It is clear that retirement costs money and people should start saving early. However neglecting and saving for retirement is not the right solution. Because even if a person has thousands of dollars in a bank account but no knowledge of their child’s whereabouts, the person will never have peace of mind. They can save and go into a beautiful retirement home but they will always be wondering about what they could have done for their children. A better option would be to spend money on your child and watch them succeed. And after this they can help take care of you long after you have retired. This creates a strong bond and a strong sense of family that can be passed down to many generations.
As children, we crave adulthood with the illusion that it will be all fun and we will have unlimited freedom and we won’t have to ‘answer to anybody’ However, the number one thing that adults miss, is their childhood. It is quite strange; we always want what we cannot have. Childhood offers us the freedom and safety to explore ourselves without the burdens that come with adulthood. Children often feel that this freedom is stiffened by adults. And when conflict inevitably rises, teenagers usually believe that parents should surrender control. Surrendering complete control is not the answer. The extent of parental control can be altered according to individuals but the connection between parents and children should not be completely severed. If this control is completely lost it ultimately creates hardship for the child. Guidance, accountability and financial stability are all offered through parental control. Parents have a right to raise their children, to see what kind of people they will become. The love and affection offered by a parent is not something that can be replaced by a peer, counselor or anyone else and that is why parents should still be able to control the lives of their children even after the age of 16.
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