Teens need freedom to make decisions themselves


Max Garfinkel, Business Manager

A couple weekends ago, a couple of my friends and I were hanging out, just watching a movie and playing some games. We decided we wanted to go out to get food at a restaurant in Hyde Park. For me that would be no big deal — it’s not something my parents are worried about or something I really need to ask permission to go do if I’m already out of the house. 

The parents of one friend use an app to track his location. This stresses him out because he worries they might ask why he wasn’t where he said he’d be. It seems kind of ridiculous to me that his parents wouldn’t trust him to make his own choices about where to eat, especially since he is a senior and will be living on his own next year. 

For most of us, our teenage years are the last time we are living under the direct supervision of our parents. After high school, most of us will move out, go to college and then start our lives outside of our parents’ houses. We will be responsible for managing our own time, choosing what we eat, what time we get up and generally who we are and what we do. 

So, for us to be able to become responsible adults, teens should be given the freedom to not only manage our own time, but also to make some mistakes while we still are in the protective bubble that is living at home. 

This way, when we enter a new level of independence as adults we are able to have better judgement and make experience-informed decisions.

High school years should be a time where we are given freedom to take risks that help us mature into adults capable of making these decisions. The problem is, as a high schooler, our parents usually end up deciding how much freedom we have, which is problematic if it is not the right amount. As teens, we see a side of our friends and peers that they don’t show to their parents, so we have insight on how parenting style affects their behavior. 

Some parents don’t provide enough supervision and give too much freedom. In some cases this would be neglect. Since we are still teens, the guiding hand of adults can usually steer us in the right direction when we have doubts, so we definitely do not want to reject our parents altogether. As every high school movie demonstrates, we think we know everything, but we don’t. Without some guidance, teens have a hard time managing their time and making good decisions. This can result in experimentation past normal teen curiosity with harmful substances, such as drugs or alcohol. 

The opposite style of parenting, or “helicopter parenting,” is also a major problem. Helicopter parenting is dangerous for teens since it doesn’t allow them to experience the world before leaving the safety of home and causing them to be helpless when hitting adulthood. 

Constant monitoring and micromanaging can leave teens crippled later in life, since they were not able to make decisions for themselves when they were younger. It can also lead to compensations once they get out of the house, such as excessive use of drugs and alcohol. 

Because they were not given the opportunity to experience freedom and experimentation before, they don’t know how to properly use the freedom once they are independent. 

I have seen an example of this in one of my close friends. Their parents were very strict about how they managed their time, what they did and who they hung out with, so once they got a little bit of freedom they rebelled against what their parents wanted and would lie to evade them. 

This is more dangerous than minor experimentation with substances in high school since there is a “safety net” when you live at home, whereas there is a lack of support once you leave. 

There needs to be is a safe middle ground between overly relaxed and helicopter parenting. As teens we need some support, but we cannot be be overly supervised by our parents.