By Fatma Ibrahim and Nour El Demerdash
When two sixteen year-olds get together to discuss pertinent parenting issues, you’d think the conversation would center around “freedom” and “restrictions”… Well you’re right, it does. But pay close attention; don’t dismiss what these pre-adults have to say just because they’re going through “that age”. There is much to be learned from them… more than you think.
Cairo West Magazine captures a conversation that transpired between our two resident teenagers Fatma Ibrahim and Nour El Demerdash who took it upon themselves to speak on behalf of young adults everywhere through an enlightening discussion that went something like this…
Fatma: What do you think the role of the parents is?
Nour: Parents are responsible for providing basic needs for their children such as food, clothes and a home. They are also responsible for their primary socialization; which is teaching them the values of their community. It is also fundamental to help children throughout their growth and development stages until they reach a certain age; for when they become adults, they need to be able to take care of themselves. Additionally, they need to teach their children manners, how to be respectful of other people and be careful not to offend anyone. They are responsible for providing an education and giving support to their children, and teaching them how to overcome some of the hardships they are bound to face in their lives.
Do you believe in strict parenting or in giving more freedom? Why?
I believe that parents should be strict in the beginning and then start offering freedom gradually. Each child should have the opportunity to make their own mistakes and have their own experiences to learn from them. Eventually, the parents will not be around to take care of their sons and daughters, therefore the children need to be able to handle life on their own. Learning from one’s own mistakes is very different and far more effective than looking at other people’s experiences and trying to learn from them. Each person seems to think that their case is different; hence, no problem will arise.
In what way do you think it affects the decision-making process of the children?
It mostly depends on the type of relationship maintained between the parents and their children. If the parents give their children the attention they need and maintain a worthy level of trust between them, then the children will respect, not fear their parents. When put in a troublesome situation, they will put into consideration what their parents would say about it, and most of the time will make the right decisions. When the parents are only strict and their children find them to be unreasonable, the best liars are born.
At which stages should parents be strict, and which should they start dispensing more freedom?
When parents observe that their children are mature and responsible enough to make their own decisions and be held accountable for their mistakes, they should allow them more freedom. If the parents think that their children are becoming a bit out of control, then they should talk to them. If that is not helpful, then the parents should start decreasing the level of freedom they had allowed them.
Would you be a strict or a free parent?
Somewhere in between, I would treat my kids as my friends and let them tell me everything that goes on in their lives. I would give them a chance to discuss with me why they want to make certain decisions. With all this information, I would be able to determine whether I need to be strict or allow them freedom.