Freedom is misunderstood
Q⁄A on Human Sexuality for Teenagers

John Ooi Peng Lee
Master of Engineering, University of Singapore
Master in Education, University of Manchester
Reproduced with permission.


Question 7:

My parents don't give me much freedom. They tell me that I am almost adult, yet they treat me like a child.

Answer 7:

Freedom is often misunderstood. Rather than meaning that a person can do anything he wants to do, true freedom means that a person will choose to do what is right. For instance, what is freedom for a drug addict - to be able to take drugs whenever he wishes, or to be able to resist the urge? True freedom always involves responsibility. When you want the freedom to choose, you should also be prepared to take the responsibility for the consequences of your choice.

Young people may be too inexperienced to discern what is right, and they are seldom in a position to take full responsibility for their actions. The teen years are in-between years, when you are learning to make decisions for yourself but still depend on your parents for many things. In these intervening years between childhood and adulthood, your parents are still responsible for you, so it is best to accept gratefully the guidance of your parents. Restrictions that your parents may place on who you can go out with, where you can go or when you have to be home are meant to protect you.

Of course, some parents do not recognise that "their little child" is growing up, and find it difficult to let go. In such situations, demanding your freedom usually leads to confrontation, anger and a tense atmosphere in the home. It should more properly be a time of negotiation, when you ask to take more responsibility for your decisions as your parents gradually relinquish that responsibility. The best way to win their trust is to show that you can be trusted in the little things. Do you do the things you say you will do, like cleaning your room promptly without having to be nagged? Do you keep your promises? Do you come home by ten o'clock when you have agreed to be home by ten?


nov 31/Jul/00