Youths urge parents to Lighten up on the rules

Guyana Chronicle
June 20, 1999

WHOSE life is it anyway?

That's the question most youths tend to ask when it appears as though the little independence they have is unfairly snatched away by "over-protective" parents.

"I never get to go anywhere"; "My friends do it"; "I'll end up like an old maid!".

Sounds familiar?

Words, words and more words are silently thrown at the resolute parent by the teen who is frustrated at the thought of missing out on a party, or an evening `hanging' with friends.

"I get mad. I want to just pick up my clothes and run away from home," said 19-year-old Kay, noting that in the past, she felt that her mother was "restricting" her from having a social life.

"We know we need their guidance, but they (parents) tend to spite us when something is not going their way," Kay felt.

Kay said, however, since she became employed, her mother has come to terms with her going out with friends.

Shelly, also 19, confessed: "At first I used to ask to go out, but Mum would say: `You can't go'. Now, I don't ask to go anywhere. I go to work and then go out afterwards".

Although girls mainly feel the brunt, some males have to abide by the `home-before-day-clean' rule.

Teenagers have grown to hate the word `curfew' - an allotted time in which they must be at home or suffer the consequences.

This is usually altered, depending on age and sex. In extreme cases, even young adults are forced to `stay in' to accommodate the ideals of the `conventional' parent.

Most adults believe that setting a `curfew' is an element of good parenting.

"It might be, too, that parents, from time to time, having assessed the behaviour of those friends, say that (they) don't want (their) child to keep that type of company," explained a mother of two.

Rather than looking at them in a negative light, the mother said, the `rules' adults lay down represent "parental love". The `rules' can often be traced back to past experiences of parents from which they want their children to be shielded, she pointed out.

According to her, a `curfew' is ideal for those 18 years and younger, but claimed it is abnormal for parents to put this restriction on young adults.

She said this demonstrates that the parent is over-protective and may have come from a background where his/her relatives had instilled a certain set of rules, which they are not now willing to modify when dealing with their offspring.

Some parents, she added, often find it hard to sleep when their child is out late at nights and would set an early `curfew' to avoid further inconvenience.

Her advice to them is: "Learn to flex".

Each teen, whether normal, wayward or saintly, should be given some amount of independence in dealing with the hurdles that lie along the path to adulthood.

They might be naive, crazy or too irresponsible to make the right choices - but everyone knows that choices ultimately serve as stepping stones.

A page from:
Guyana: Land of Six Peoples