Help! I’m 14 and Not Allowed to Hang Out with Friends. Any Advice?

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A note I got:

Dear Free-Range Kids: I need help and an answer to what I should do.

I’m 14 and I feel like I’m living in hell everyday of my life… My mum and my dad never let me out to play with my friends because they think that they are a bad influence on me. The only times i’m allowed to go outside are to walk to my cousin’s house a couple of blocks away, and that’s only every 2 weeks! I am allowed to walk to a shop which is nearby if I want to get anything to eat, but that’s basically it. I’m losing friends’ because when they come over and knock at my house and ask me if we could play, I have to reply saying ‘no’ which makes it very hard for me to sustain a good friendship.
 
My life is just sitting on the computer and watch people play video games on Youtube, I just need advice on what to do please!Emoji
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I replied: Dear EmojiHmm. What I’ve seen that changes parents is a reality check. They sort of have to be shocked into realizing their kids are not helpless babies anymore. This happens when they actually see their kids do something without their help or supervision that makes them — the parents — proud. So: Any chance you could make them dinner or run an errand for them or do something FOR them that shows them how safe and competent you are when doing some little thing on your own?

Another idea is: Go to my site and click on the tab at the top that says “FRK Project.” Is it possible you could get your class or even school to do the project? Lots of parents who didn’t want their kids to do anything on their own relented when it was presented as a “project” endorsed by the school.
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That would help because parents, like most people, aren’t swayed by rationality. But when they see what their kids can do on their own, often they are so overwhelmed with pride and happiness — they DO want their kids to be happy and they DO want evidence that they’re raising competent young men and women — that the fear finally shatters.
But if none of that works, I can run your note on my site and see if anyone else has a great idea.

Yes please it hasn’t worked, I asked my mom once again if I could go to the park maybe once with my friends and she gave me a lecture on how it’s not safe, but I try to remind her that I’m 14 years old and more than capable of taking care of myself. I really feel sad how all my friends get to go and I don’t, it’s summer break right now in the UK, and seeing all those kids having fun outside just really hurts me. The same thing goes for my cousins, even they aren’t allowed to go anywhere they like.  Although they have siblings which I do not have, someone who they can talk to and play with inside, 🙁

So, readers, any advice for this young Brit?

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How can a teen convince his terrified parents to let him have some freedom?

How can a teen convince his terrified parents to let him have some freedom?

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77 Responses to Help! I’m 14 and Not Allowed to Hang Out with Friends. Any Advice?

  1. Andrew Jones August 25, 2015 at 8:53 am #

    Well, as much as I’m a parent – in this particular case, I can see one simple solution. Do what most kids do – disobey them.

    Go the park – play with friends – what ‘s the worst they can do? Ground you? That’s effectively everyday life for you anyway – so when they give you that punishment you can even mention it “How is that different from every other day this summer – that’s not punishment, that’s you being paranoid”

    By the way – if they start going after you pointing out that your disobedience is because of the “bad influence” of your friends – call them on it. “How can they be a bad influence if I never see them because you’re too paranoid to let me out of the house”

    I know other parents might get mad at me for recommending disobedience, but, if you can recommend *civil* disobedience against bad laws, you can recommend *familial* disobedience against bad parents.

    Sometimes “those bad kids” that disobey their parents all the time are “normal kids”, they just have stupid parents. (Yes, not all parents are blessed with intelligence in child-rearing)

  2. E August 25, 2015 at 9:03 am #

    I’m always hesitant to give advice to parents of teens because you never know the specific concerns (or history or cultural concerns etc), but I’ll mention a few things.

    Since people aren’t identical, perhaps there is one parent that has a more flexible, approachable attitude towards this issue. Maybe speak with that parent alone and present your concern and your thoughts about how to give opportunities to assert some independence.

    The term “play” strikes me as unusual (as American teens don’t use that term when hanging out with their friends), but it did make me think about my Dad’s viewpoint, which was that I needed to tell them my specific plans. He did not like the idea that we were just going out (this was with a car because we did not live in a pedestrian/public transport area) with no plan or destination. Perhaps explaining specifically your plans as opposed to just going out to “play”?

  3. BL August 25, 2015 at 9:09 am #

    It *may* be true that those other kids are unsavory (“a bad influence”), but if you’ve been kept in captivity up to the age of 14, how the hell are you going to develop any judgement about people?

  4. Buffy August 25, 2015 at 9:18 am #

    @BL, maybe your thoughts about ‘captivity’ could help explain why this letter sounds like it was written by an 8- or 9-year-old. It really does not come across like the writer is 14.

  5. Juluho August 25, 2015 at 9:47 am #

    I don’t know about all the rule breaking advice. There are a heck of a lot of variables here we know nothing about.

  6. lollipoplover August 25, 2015 at 9:55 am #

    Have you had these friends over your house to hang out, so the parents can meet them and *screen* them before they let you go off and hang out in parks? I love to meet my kid’s friends. The mysterious unmet friends are the ones I get hesitant to say “yes” for hanging out. Taking the mystery and danger out of these “bad influences” may help you break your captivity.

    Another suggestion- take some courses (Red Cross babysitting, etc) and consider a job to get out of the house. Socializing with any kids (even younger ones), demonstrating responsibility, earning income, will go far to prove that you can be trusted to have freedom.

    This letter breaks my heart. I have a 14 yo son who crams his summer days with work, friends, sports, and tons of outdoor play. He is naturally shy (I was at his age too) and allowing him to control the majority of his down time has led him to discover his passions (fishing, golfing, entrepreneurial pursuits). What a different quality of life he would have if he lived under this letter writer’s roof with limited freedom. He would be miserable.

  7. Lori August 25, 2015 at 9:59 am #

    Let’s take some things here at face value (the OP is indeed 14, has not done anything to warrant such treatment, which is as it is described).

    The letter does mention that his/her cousins (who they are allowed to visit) face a similar situation, except they have siblings to play with… perhaps there’s a religious/cultural belief behind the parents’ behaviour? What could be done to address that?

  8. BL August 25, 2015 at 10:07 am #

    “Let’s take some things here at face value (the OP is indeed 14, has not done anything to warrant such treatment, which is as it is described).

    The letter does mention that his/her cousins (who they are allowed to visit) face a similar situation, except they have siblings to play with… perhaps there’s a religious/cultural belief behind the parents’ behaviour? What could be done to address that?”

    If we’re taking things at face value, there is no religious/cultural belief involved, since he doesn’t mention any.

  9. Stephanie C. August 25, 2015 at 10:11 am #

    I agree with the strategy of having your friends come over to your house and meet your parents. Much depends on the part about “bad influence.” As the mom of a 13 year old son, those words stood out to me. I feel fortunate that my son’s friends are kids who seem like they have good heads on their shoulders and have concern for others and their own futures. And still, it can be a little scary for a parent to just let them go. Even “good” kids get into trouble sometimes, and with young teens, parents are still learning how to balance protection and freedom.

    If I suspected my son’s friends were into drugs, petty crime, hate groups or other negative things, It would be heart wrenching and terrifying to let him go out with them. (I probably wouldn’t allow it, even though I know that’s not a viable long-term solution.)

    If your friends are not into illegal or age-inappropriate activity, let your parents get to know them. Maybe your parents are making unfair judgements about them based on their clothing or other outward appearances. Give them a chance to learn that they are wrong. However, if your friends *are* into questionable activities, rethink your strategy. Maybe your parents are doing you a favor by helping you break with them. The next – and very important – step in that case would be to find new friends. What kind of person do you want to be and what (healthy) activities are you into? Ask your parents to help you connect with people like that, or join a group at school that will put you in contact with people you share interests with. If you can’t budge your parents on letting you roam free with your pals, maybe they would at least let you join interest groups after school so that you could have some less structured (but not completely unsupervised) time with your peers outside of classes.

    Good luck!

  10. Warren August 25, 2015 at 10:46 am #

    Call a family meeting, with your cousins and their parents. You and your cousins stand together, express your concerns and desires. Maybe get them to start with allowing you to go out and about with your cousins. Then have friends over with your cousins. Then after some time you will have the proof you need to show them everything is fine, and nothing bad happens.

  11. theresa hall August 25, 2015 at 10:50 am #

    see if you can get the parents on her show. if that doesn’t work nothing will

  12. Virginia August 25, 2015 at 10:53 am #

    To add on to another comment, “hanging out” with no specific plans is often anathema to parents of teens. Instead of “I want to hang out in the park,” as a parent, I’d be more receptive to “John, Susan, Bob, and I would like to go to the park to play basketball and then walk to the shop to grab a snack. I could be home by 6:00 to help cook dinner.” Your parents may be unreasonable, they may be paranoid, but they might just need to see you being cooperative and meeting them halfway. Reasonably ask them to meet your friends (and prep your friends beforehand if possible to turn on the charm). If they could see you interacting responsibly with them, they might change their minds. Would they let you have one or two friends over to watch a movie when they are home? In the meantime, look for volunteer opportunities that interest you that would get you out of the house and meeting lots of new people.

  13. Emily August 25, 2015 at 11:21 am #

    I agree with the “extracurricular activities” advice, at least for when school resumes. I lived a similar life until high school, but then I joined the band, and band executive, and student government, and the school newspaper for a few years. This both got me out of the house more, and gave me a reputation at school as a student whom adults liked and trusted, so my parents naturally followed suit. Gradually, I went from being nearly under house arrest, to being allowed free run after school, to coming and going as I pleased.

  14. Havva August 25, 2015 at 11:23 am #

    🙁 It hurts just reading your letter. When I was 14 I knew two girls who were as restricted as you. Neither had siblings.

    One was seriously depressed and had slit her wrists many times. The other was more placid and compliant, immature, with a basically cheerful disposition. Her parents also spent a huge amount of money trying to keep her entertained and ‘happy’. But it only took a scratch to the surface to see the desperation come out. I saw thing pretty close with her, because her parents invited me over a lot. And because her parents asked me to “babysit” her when they couldn’t find anyone much older than her to babysit. She was my friend so I refused to let them call it babysitting. But I was more or less babysitting, and I obeyed their rules. It was soul sucking being cooped up even for a few hours and I was generally a home body.

    I remember how at 14 it felt like we would never turn 18. My friend’s situation felt really hopeless. But that time will come. If nothing else, work toward the day you are legally an adult. Be prepared with a plan, and hopefully the means to escape, and adults who trust you and might offer a bit of help. Don’t let the temptation to be self destructive suck you in, it will only aid your parents in holding you back longer.

    One of the few things eventually allowed to the friend I didn’t babysit, was a job. That was a big help to her because her parents were still otherwise holding her captive even after she graduated high school. They monitored her every move. But with the help of a co-worker she managed to secretly purchase a no contract/pay as you go cell phone. And she made contact with a military recruiter. The recruiter helped stage her disappearance. She was sworn in, and in basic training, before her parents found out she was gone. She left with nothing but her purse and the clothing she was wearing.

    Anyhow a job would at least give you something to do and people to talk to for the next 4 years. And some money you my well need to make your escape when you are old enough to legally do so. Perhaps the store you are allowed to walk to would be willing to let you know the next time they have an opening. Also, since your parents trust your aunt/uncle and let you walk to your cousin. Perhaps you could ask to spend more time with your cousins?

  15. Jennifer August 25, 2015 at 11:26 am #

    It appears to me this young man was smart enough to research and find “free range” and email you and ultimately the audience asking for help. Regardless of quality of the letter, this shows capability and an attempt to follow a responsible means in seeking help. For this thoughtful and hopeful action on his part, we should give him guidance and options. Lets stay away from posting negative comments as if he isn’t reading this and its a private conversation.

    My advice would be:

    1. Try showing you are capable of making responsible choices by taking part in the home care. Making dinner (requiring a walk to the store and buying food), organizing anything that needs care (maybe a cupboard or the DVD collection). I feel parents should be setting up this maturity stages…but in the absence of this, kids can take the lead.

    2. Sit down and ask them, with a pen and paper, for a contract that allows you to play with your friends after you accomplish what will ease their minds. Be prepared…it may be nothing and they may have to think about it for a while.

    3. See if you can research online summer camps and find out if this is affordable or something they would support. Show research on kids character building and culture of the camps.

    4. I found my freedom thru books. Frequent trips to the library and then group activities in the library were how I found some independence. Sometimes parents prefer freedom “under control” such as a class/group. Now this doesn’t get you out with your specific friends but it may get your closer.

    5. Try talking to a one or two friends and explain your situation. See if you can get them to come over an help build trust. Maybe they are part of the dinner prep and serving. Good manners and being there so your parents can see kids in different settings goes a long way.

    6. Getting grounded doesn’t seem so bad if none of this works. It also could be the final straw they needed to validate your potential to “act bad with the wrong kids”. Seems risky but sometimes when logic fails…it helps.

    Sorry for the hard times. Those wings of yours will certainly fly to amazing places and treasure your friends when you get to use them. Best of luck.

  16. Warren August 25, 2015 at 11:38 am #

    Instead of just general play and hanging out with your friends, try arranging a specific activity. Like a movie that you parents can drive you to and pick you up. Still allows them some control, but gives you a chance to prove yourself.

  17. Joan August 25, 2015 at 11:49 am #

    Lenore, can you visit these parents? These people need a wake-up call. Confining your teen for no good reason is emotional abuse!

    While I hate to recommend disobedience, my sister did exactly that. She snuck out at night and disappeared for days at a time. My parents punished her, grounded her, but she just kept doing it. Finally she wore them down. It took some time but it worked. Sad that it took being disobeyed for my parents to wake up and scale back control.

    My more practical advice would be to volunteer for a community project. Tell your parents you want to do good in the world. Then when you turn 16, get a part-time job. Save your money so you can move out.

  18. Alanna August 25, 2015 at 12:13 pm #

    Has she provided opportunities for her parents to get to know her friends? Maybe she could ask her parents if she could have one of her friends over for dinner. It would be even better if she cooked the meal!

  19. Kimberly August 25, 2015 at 12:28 pm #

    Let me start by saying DO NOT DISOBEY YOUR PARENTS!!! If you want to be allowed more freedom, the best way to never see that happen is to break their trust in you. The idea here is to gain more freedom, not have less because you’re grounded.

    Otherwise, the best advice I can give is to have a family meeting where you and your parents can sit down and talk, hopefully uninterrupted.

    Ask them questions.

    1) What is it that they’re concerned about? Is it you? Your friends? The neighborhood? Society? Crime rates?

    2) Don’t allow for general answers. Ask them to be specific. If it’s you, what specifically? Are your grades poor? Have you broken their trust in the past? If it’s your friends, why? Have they cut school? Shoplifting? If it’s your neighborhood, society, or crime rates, then what specifically are they worried about? The high rate of kidnappings? Human trafficking? Drugs?

    3) Have specific rebuttals yourself. Go online and do some research. If they’re worried about kidnappings or sexual assaults, then arm yourself with research for the UK that shows what the statistical probability is for those crimes. Comb through newspapers, contact your local CPS and find out what the actual crime rates are for your area.

    4) Don’t get defensive if you don’t like their answers. Just because Jimmy is an awesome friend doesn’t mean your parents have to like him.

    5) Ask for compromise. Look for, and ask for, ways that you and your parents can meet in the middle somewhere. If your parents don’t like your friends, see if you can’t invite them over for dinner or to hang out. Let your parents meet them. Maybe suggest that your parents meet some of your friends parents? If your grades are suffering, talk to them about what you can do as a family to bring them up. Maybe hire a tutor? Maybe offer to do homework first and have your parents check it before being allowed to leave? If your parents are worried that the streets aren’t safe, maybe you can offer to start small. Can you do volunteer work through a club at your school or through a local church where there is usually supervision? Or maybe join some school clubs or sports (if that’s what you’re into)? Maybe you can offer to run into a store to pick something up while your mom waits in the car?

    You can also suggest a part-time job. I don’t know what the hiring laws are like in the UK, but even if you can’t get a job at a store, there are other things you might be able to do. Can you babysit? Tutor other kids in a subject you like?

  20. Maxine August 25, 2015 at 12:31 pm #

    Call CPS and report your parents. This teenager is being abused.

  21. Wendy Book August 25, 2015 at 12:36 pm #

    Dear 14-Year Old,

    My sympathies. Please do NOT disobey them, as that could get you restricted even more than you are now. I agree with those who say that the way to deal with fear is with knowledge. Tell your parents where you’ll be and what you’ll be doing. OVERSHARE, and (this is hard) not with hostility. “I’ll be with Sam, Jen, and Sharon for about an hour and a half at Sam’s house, doing homework. Sam’s mother will be home. Her phone number is… and then I’ll come home and help with dinner.”
    I mean, in the age of cell phones, this should be possible.
    These skills will also serve you well in the workplace if you get a micro-manager who does not trust you: OVERSHARE. Good luck!

  22. Susan August 25, 2015 at 12:45 pm #

    I am the parent of a 14 year old son in Los Angeles. We do not live within walking distance of anything but my son still has lots of friends (I just drive him to friend’s houses or malls etc). As others have said, get involved with high school activities (running,robotics, student newspaper or yearbook.) You will meet and have fun with other responsible kids and your parents can meet them when they pick you up. With your parents permission, invite a few kids over for weekend sleepovers. Can you pitch a tent in your backyard for sleepovers? You can be (safely) by yourself & close enough to use the bathrooms.

    If none of this works, please talk to your counselor or a teacher at school. Hopefully a counselor can talk directly to your parents to let them know that they need to loosen up. Good luck.

  23. Ilana August 25, 2015 at 12:55 pm #

    Speak to your parents and rather than focusing on how you don’t have fun and are losing friends (which doesn’t seem to have convinced them yet), remind them that you’ll be a legal adult in four years and tell them that you think it’s important to start preparing for that. Learning from mistakes, developing judgment, learning how to handle various situations, etc. Maybe even make a list together of what you need to learn/develop and how you can practice getting there. Another possibility – ask to see a therapist and ask the therapist to speak with them about this. Good luck!

  24. Karen August 25, 2015 at 12:59 pm #

    My first thought is “maybe they really are bad influences.” Maybe not, but parents are always wrong. Over the years there have been people. … ok, only one, that I found very excuse to not let my daughter be with a certain child. Of if she was, it was only at my house.
    Since the parents do let this 14 year old walk to the store or her cousin’s house alone, it doesn’t sound like they are completely overbearing. So I’m going to stick with my first thought of “maybe it is the friends.” Look for better friends.

  25. Emily August 25, 2015 at 1:31 pm #

    I’m not sure that the letter writer needs to look for better friends. Maybe “bad influence” just means “Friends want to spend time with LW outside the house, away from constant adult supervision. This is against our rules, so they’re a Bad Influence On Our Child.”

  26. Reziac August 25, 2015 at 1:50 pm #

    Find friends your parents approve of.

    For many years studies have struggled to find any correlation between life factors and whether teens “go wrong”. And nothing correlated with any consistency — not poverty, not education, not even broken homes.Finally a study looked at teens’ peers, and — bingo! teens copy their peers!! who knew??!

    And that, dear heart, is why good parents are concerned about who you hang out with. Your task is to convince your parents that your friends are a good influence — and if they’re not, to find a better class of friends. Because who you hang out with matters when it comes to who you’ll turn out to be.

    Yes, sometimes it’s tough or even impossible to convince your parents of this. They don’t know your friends as you do. The only solution I can propose is to bring your friends to your parents. Let them get to know each other. If you’re embarrassed to do that — reconsider who you’re calling your friends.

  27. Rook August 25, 2015 at 2:21 pm #

    My first suggestion would be to push to let the cousins hang out more often. Apparently they’re not too terrible if you can see them somewhat regularly. If the lot of you are pretty self-sufficient so all the parents need to know is where you are and don’t have to constantly get after you, surely it couldn’t hurt to visit regularly.

    My second suggestion would be perhaps sports or some kind of school club like that. Even if practice and events were the only time you got to see your team mates, it’d be better than nothing.

    A study group might be okay. Perhaps convince your parents to let you host a study group and they can keep an eye on who you’re with and perhaps let you go to the mall or something with them if they like them?

    If all else fails: get a dog. While my parents gave me the opportunity to have friends, nobody wanted me around. So I had no friends and nobody to hang out with but the critters in the yard. Pets are a lot better than nothing.
    And buy a headset and take up some computer gaming like Minecraft or something so you can get at least some social interaction outside of school.

  28. James Pollock August 25, 2015 at 2:53 pm #

    “Finally a study looked at teens’ peers, and — bingo! teens copy their peers!! who knew??!”

    Perhaps you have cause and effect reversed. Perhaps teens who are innately likely to go bad, seek out friends who are similar.

    I guess Mary and Joseph shouldn’t have been surprised that their son ended up on the wrong side of the law… he liked to hang out with sinners and prostitutes.

  29. Meghan August 25, 2015 at 2:55 pm #

    Ask them if there are kids your age that they approve of you spending time with. Then ask about a good time and place for a get together. Ask them what they would like to see you do with your spare time. Ask them what after-school activities meet with their approval. Even if the kids are not who you would have chosen, it can be better than nothing and sometimes people will surprise you by being better friends than you think at first meeting. The same goes for activities. Maybe they’ll say track club and you have no interest in running, but you might try it and find that it’s not so bad after all. When you ask them what they want, it will make them feel like whatever you all agree upon was their idea in the first place.

    Perhaps your parents are paranoid. Perhaps they are correct about the kids in your neighborhood being a bad influence. Sometimes we view things very differently as we age. I know that waiting until you are 18 seems like an eternity, but keep your eyes on the goal of getting a job and moving out. Four more years out of a lifetime is actually not that long. Each day try to find some small pleasure that will get you through to the next day.

  30. Melissa August 25, 2015 at 3:26 pm #

    I believe the Kimberly that commented and gave such good advice just might be my very own daughter!! 🙂 It was great advice. If your parents aren’t willing to sit and have a deep discussion about your ‘imprisonment’ I suggest you use your obvious writing ability to let them know how you’d react in certain situations which might cause them fear. Don’t carry on about how unfair you feel they are; just let them know specifically how responsible you are and that you’re not naive. Also, as a parent (I’m a grandparent now), I cannot express to you how much safer I felt having my kids’ friends come to our house to play or just hangout. It helped me get to know them and the kinds of things they were interested in. Since I found that none of their interests were diabolical, it made it easier to allow my kids a more freedom.

  31. JR August 25, 2015 at 3:36 pm #

    Step 1: Buy a copy of the book Free Range Kids.

    Step 2: Read it while sitting near your parents. When they ask what you’re reading, you can tell them it’s a book about the benefits of freedom and responsibility for children and young adults.

    Step 3: Occasionally share with your parents some interesting things you’re learning from the book.

    Step 4: Offer to let them read the book when you’re finished.

    Step 5: Make occasional suggestions, such as, “Mom, I’d like to start preparing for adulthood by finding ways to practice responsibility and independence. What would be a good start?”

  32. Havva August 25, 2015 at 4:42 pm #

    I think @Ilana, might be on to something. To confront the parents with the limits of their control. Though it depends on how bull headed :-(‘s parents are.

    My mom had only one major issue that resulted in a problematic restriction. The idea of us kids driving was more than she could take. After 2 years of fruitless arguments about my sister’s desire for a learner’s permit I got worried and asked mom when she planed to let my sister learn to drive. Her answer was an emphatic. “NEVER!”

    I told my mom quite plainly that “never” was not an option. That in a little more than a year my sister was going to turn 18. That she clearly wants to drive. And that once she turned 18 there would be nothing mom could do to stop her from getting a permit. Mom argued that my sister was too inattentive, that she didn’t even look both ways before crossing a street. But I persisted and asked her, then since you can’t stop her from driving who do you want teaching her? You, or a friend she picks out? Shouldn’t it be you, since you know her weaknesses better than anyone? Mom agreed, dad fetched the paperwork, then mom back out and refused to sign. When I heard she had, I handed her a pen and reminded her “never is not an option” she signed. She tried to take it back a week later, but the words “never is not an option” kept her in check. My sister did get her permit, and she did learn to drive. And she has yet to be in an accident. I got my permit by reminding my mom I was approaching the age my sister got hers and saying it was time to think about mine. I said nothing more and a month later mom gave my sister my signed papers and told her to take me in to file them and get me tested. Mom was never completely calm we had a fight about it after I already was a licensed driver

    Another example of confronting parents with the limits of their control is published in “Free to Learn” by Peter Gray. His son wanted to travel solo to England. He had the trip mostly planed and budgeted, and had a plan to earn the money. His mostly trusting and laid back parents, claimed to only have one problem with that. Their son is diabetic. Granted he had been managing his own condition for years, without incident. But they figured if he was traveling alone something could go wrong and he could be in real trouble. He told his parents that he would always be diabetic, but he wouldn’t always be a child. And that if nothing was going to (or needed to) change between then and adulthood, the restriction was unacceptable to him because it meant they believed he would never be capable of traveling independently. They let him go, but they made him agree to wear a medical alert medallion for the whole trip.

    At any rate, in a calm moment. Ask your parents how they see your future as an adult. And what the 3 of you need to do to make sure become a capable, independent adult that they can have confidence in. Try to stay calm whatever they say. But I can’t guarantee it will work. The friend I refused the babysit, has only limited contact with her parents even though it has been over a decade. Her parents just don’t do a very good job of respecting her boundaries, so like an abused kid she just has to protect herself from them.

  33. Andrea August 25, 2015 at 5:03 pm #

    I’m curious to know why her parents think her friends are a bad influence on her. The letter kind of glosses over that. Without that information, it’s hard to give advice.

    Also, the letter writer may live in a high-poverty, high-crime area, in which case if I were the letter writer’s parents I’d probably keep her inside, too.

    I’m all for free range and was allowed to hang out with my friends freely at age 14 and plan to allow my children to do the same. But circumstances differ and mine might not be hers. I need more info.

  34. Michelle August 25, 2015 at 5:26 pm #

    Havva said very much what I was going to say. Talk to your parents and say, “Obviously, one day I will be allowed to leave the house whenever I want, go wherever I want, and hang out with my friends. What character traits do you hope to see in me when that day comes? How will you know that I am mature and responsible enough then? What things will you see me doing that tell you I’m ready?” If they just say things like, “You’ll be older; you’ll be an adult,” ask them, “But if I’m 18 or 21 and I still act like I’m 14, you won’t think I’m mature. I want to know what specific traits and behaviors look like maturity to you.” Then LISTEN.

    Don’t be whiny or confrontational. And don’t frame it as, “If I do X, will you let me do Y?” This isn’t bargaining. This is information-gathering. This is learning how your parents define maturity and readiness to take on the world. Once you have that information, you can use it to inform your behavior, which hopefully (given time and consistency) will help change the way your parents see you. And once they start seeing you as mature, they may reward that with freedom.

    Another good conversation to have with your parents is to ask them what the difference is between the activities they allow (going to the shop, walking to your cousin’s house) and those they don’t allow (going to the park, going to a friend’s house). Keep a calm, reasoned tone — not like, “BUT WHHHHHYYYY CAN’T I???” — like you’re trying to come to an understanding. Tell your parents that you want to spend more time doing social activities that they consider age-appropriate, and waste less time begging them to do things that they aren’t going to permit. Some good questions would be:

    If you can walk to your cousin’s house, why so infrequently? Is it just because that’s when the cousin is available? or are there things at home that your parents want you to spend time on (like chores or schoolwork) that aren’t getting done? And if that’s the case, could you visit your cousin more often if you stepped up in those areas? Or is there some other circumstance that your parents look for when they say yes to those visits? For example, if they only let you go when your uncle is home, could you have your cousin text you when he’s home so you know to ask for a visit?

    If you can walk to your cousin’s house, why not a friend’s house? Is it because your parents don’t know the friends or their parents? In which case, could you arrange things so they get to know them? Or would your parents prefer you bring the friend to your house? Or are your friends REALLY bad influences like your parents said? In which case, do you think you should find some nicer friends?

    If you can walk to the shop, why not to the park? Is the park farther? Is there a place nearer that you could meet your friends? Is the shop more public (so your parents know there are other adults looking out for you)? Is there a public place, like a restaurant or an arcade, where your parents would be more comfortable with you meeting your friends? Is it because you won’t be gone from home for as long if you just walk to the shop and back? Would it be acceptable to invite your friend to walk to the shop with you?

    Really understanding exactly what your parents find objectionable or unreasonable should help you come up with ideas for social activities they’d allow, especially since they have already shown a willingness to let you do some things on your own. You could even ask them for suggestions. What sort of fun activities would they be comfortable with?

  35. Donald August 25, 2015 at 6:08 pm #

    Sailors that are out to sea for long periods of time party big time when they finally reach port. This happens to children as well. The longer parents keep them captive, the more wild of a time they can have when they escape/revolt. Parents can’t keep kids captive forever. They’re better off tapering their independence before the kids revolt. This way the parents will still have some influence over them when they are on their ‘liberty’.

    Tell your parents that you want them to meet your friends. If they won’t come over for a visit perhaps you can get your mom to hire them to wash her car or help you with some other job

    When I was in 3rd Grade, my mom wrongfully punished me for something. She was so wrong and I was so outraged at the injustice of it that I decided that I would get even. I stopped applying myself in school.

    I SURE FIXED HER!

    Don’t get sucked into the self destructive behavior.

  36. Marcello1099 August 25, 2015 at 6:14 pm #

    Sorry, he’s 14. Not to sound harsh — but too bad if I do — his parents are morons. I was riding the subway alone at age 10. Before that I was riding my bicycle all over creation from age 6 on. Absurd beyond belief today.

  37. Missus H August 25, 2015 at 7:24 pm #

    Would they let you get a job? It might sound to them like a more constructive use of your time, and you’d be in a “safe” environment. Then your success could start proving that you can be responsible for yourself. I don’t know the laws in the UK about working age, but that’s my suggestion. Good luck!

  38. theresa hall August 25, 2015 at 8:18 pm #

    do not call cps ever unless death would better than the kids life. lots of foster parents are rapist and cps doesn’t care. cps is so nuts I can’t even think of a word to say how nuts they are! put the silly parents on ls show and maybe they will be cured. please don’t call cps unless death is better than what they have. cps is mean and crazy!

  39. Donald August 25, 2015 at 8:32 pm #

    “Sorry, he’s 14. Not to sound harsh — but too bad if I do — his parents are morons.”

    Yes they do if what he says is true. However that’s only one side of the story and it’s told through the eyes of a 14 yr old boy

  40. Donald August 25, 2015 at 8:35 pm #

    Yes they do sound that way if….

  41. Kimberly August 25, 2015 at 9:15 pm #

    Theresa —

    In the UK, CPS stands for Crown Prosecution Service. They are the UK version of America’s District Attorney.

  42. Rebecca McKenzie August 25, 2015 at 10:08 pm #

    That poor boy 🙁 those parents should be charged with child abuse. Preventing your kid from socializing? That’s absolutely abuse. He’s being held in captivity out of his mom’s selfishness and deluded fears. When I was even 11 I was allowed to walk a mile away from my home, ride bikes to the store, play at the park, and play in the creek.

  43. sexhysteria August 26, 2015 at 2:40 am #

    Direct confrontation might work. Tell your parents they’re wrong and you have the statistics to prove it (on this site). Accuse them of being over-protective for their own benefit, and threaten to report them to “the Social” for emotional abuse. Fight fire with fire.

  44. Christoph Sonderegger August 26, 2015 at 4:13 am #

    Dear :(, the behaviour of your parents makes me feel angry. My daughter is 12, and if she would waste all her time sitting in front of a computer (or TV-set), I would tell her where to get off. I would ask her if she hadn’t friends with whom she could do some outdoor activities.

    I am happy that she and her brother (aged 10) are self-reliant enough that they don’t need their parents for every bagatelle.

    Greetings from Austria, Europe

  45. Aubrey August 26, 2015 at 5:35 am #

    My parents refused to let me have friends during my teenage years. I didn’t understand it at the time, but later it became clear that they had agendas of their own. My father was making life hell for my Mum and one of the things he did was not maintain our home so that she felt very ashamed of it because she thought it reflected on her. Instead of standing up for herself, she believed her role was to bear it in silence. She refused to let my brother and I have friends. Asking anyone to our home was not an option, and Mum told us that other childrens’ parents would not want us in their houses. She told us we would not like going to Boy Scouts or a youth club because the kids there are not the kind of kids we would like. She didn’t know that, she used it as an excuse to avoid other people finding out about her shameful situation.

    Parents can make life very unpleasant if you are living in the same space as them and they make you feel small and ashamed of being normal! Their tone of voice alone can be very controlling. And remember that people try to control you be cause of their fear. In my case, my Mum’s fear of shame.

    My point is that in some cases parents have motivations for limiting their children’s social life that is nothing to do with the interests of the children or the quality of the friends. Thank goodness, my brother and I entertained each other and learned from intellectual television programmes. But nevertheless our confidence and ability to interact socially was severely held back. I am now 55 and have taught myself to be sociable and chat cheerily to people. But it took a long time and has been a painful process. So the damage done by social-deprivation in early teens can be devastating.

    I can well believe that this young Brit is 14. Maybe if his letter sounds a little younger than his years it is because American children are often more self-assured than those in the UK.. He actually sounds very capable of expressing himself, to me.

    There are some very sensible comments in response to his letter. I do agree that this should be considered emotional abuse. Nevertheless, I also agree that calling the authorities (Social Services in the UK) is jumping from the frying pan into the fire. And if you love your parents, as most of us do, reporting them for abuse is hard on you too.

    I think the library is a brilliant suggestion because most localities have a library, even if the neighbourhood doesn’t provide facilities specifically for young people. At libraries (try more than one) you might meet other young people and get chatting about the books you are reading. Some librarians are very supportive of younger users and may be able to point you in the direction of clubs, activities or people who can help.

    Also, these days, the internet (also available at libraries if not at home) gives access to some very positive supportive advice that helps one to understand the predicament (this conversation is one such example). Information equips one to cope better. In situations like this you have to realise that you alone have the ability to kick-start a change for the better and if others are not acting in your best interest, you have every right to take initiative and do something for yourself. Better to do it as a considered plan than to let things deteriorate so badly that you do something dodgy in desperation.

    I do hope life improves soon for this young man. I hope Lenore and the comments have helped him and others in similar dilemmas.

  46. Rachel August 26, 2015 at 5:49 am #

    Maybe his friends *are* a bad influence. That does happen, you know. I remember being in high school and seeing what happened to the kids who fell in with a bad crowd. As a parent of one teen, and two soon-to-be teens, I can say that I keep an eye on who their friends are.

  47. theresa hall August 26, 2015 at 7:31 am #

    I don’t care what cps in uk is called but they should a last resort. unless somehow they are better then what we have in the usa. talk to the parents try get on the show if all that fails then it off to the uk version of cps

  48. Kimberly August 26, 2015 at 12:08 pm #

    Another suggestion I would make, and this will be contrary to some other posts here, is to avoid using this site as proof that it’s safe for you to be granted freedoms by your parents. I’m not saying that the statistics on this site are bad, or that you should avoid them all together. However, as a parent, if my child were to come to me with statistics on how gun ownership is healthy for children from the NRA, I would be inclined to completely disregard the numbers, even if they were absolutely correct, simply because it would be hard to not see the NRA as being biased. (That’s just an example, BTW). As everyone on this site is aware, it’s really easy for people to pull numbers and twist them to reflect their own cause (just look at all the “child safety” videos that tell us how many child predators are out there).

    Of course, the statistics on this site are a great jumping off place. Look at where these statistics were pulled from and go to those other sites and do your own research. I have the same argument with my kids every time they are given a book report or research assignment when the teachers tell them that they are not allowed to use Wikipedia and I tell them that Wikipedia is a great place to start at, to get an idea of what you want to know, and for other research avenues.

  49. lollipoplover August 26, 2015 at 2:22 pm #

    “Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.”

    Some great suggestions here, but I still think having your parents get to know your friends will ease their anxiety of the unknown. I also just read the great article below that highlights “the gift of responsibility” that comes with freedom. Since actions speak louder than words, demonstrate to your parents that you are responsible to deserve the freedom you are asking for.

    http://community.today.com/post/helping-vs-enabling

  50. Papilio August 26, 2015 at 4:22 pm #

    There must be research on the link between child well-being/happiness and independency, socializing with friends, having a life in general, et cetera, at that age. Maybe Lenore (or Tim Gill from Rethinking Childhood – since he’s British) is aware of some?

  51. Stephanie August 26, 2015 at 5:10 pm #

    If the friends are a concern as a “bad influence” talk to your parents about why. When my daughter was 11, she had a 10 year old friend who was definitely a bad influence, and we had a lot of discussions about the problems with that particular friend. The girl had been caught smoking three times, called my daughter a bad friend whenever they disagreed on what to do, broke a window at her own party when she wasn’t getting her own way and is medicated for behavioral issues. Her mother has simply given up and lets all her kids just do whatever.

    I allowed the friendship to run its course, and it has. When the smoking problem was revealed, that was a very intense discussion about how to handle it. We decided not to restrict our daughter from her friend because this is the kind of thing she’s going to see in high school, college and so forth, and it was easier to help her through it at a young age when expressing disgust with the idea came naturally to her. Talking about our expectations for how my daughter would handle things if her friend behaved in certain ways really helped, and eventually she dropped the friendship because she was tired of being yelled at by a supposed friend. We made it very clear that the friend’s behavior was not okay, and that if they were together but my daughter wanted to go home, she could call us and we’d come get her from her friend’s house (other side of town, not walking distance).

    Kids are going to encounter bad influences in their lives, and sometimes they come in the form of friends. So far for us, talking about how to handle the situation has worked, and hopefully will give our daughter the skills she needs to handle them as she gets older.

  52. Rick46032 August 26, 2015 at 7:44 pm #

    Dude I’m 61 and it sounds just like my life. Just kidding but barely.

    I believe there is a singular cure for boredom that is 100% guaranteed.

    Curiosity. The catch is there is no cure for curiosity.

    Make use of your resources and as suggested focus on helping others. Sounds like you have a computer and internet access. No better way to help lift yourself than by lifting others. Cultivate the positives and minimize the negatives. Your parents care but like all of us they aren’t perfect either.

    Learn to be happy with what you have as you plan to build a future on a solid and sound foundation.

    Someone else is happy with less than you have. Doesn’t make the immediacy or the feelings of the problem you’re describing go away I know. You can only grow incrementally a little at a time. Grow your independence by cultivating your future with good strong habits.

    BTW as far as saying you or your parents are wrong, not going there. You are both right but you are having different conversations simultaneously. Like most of us in that situation it’s easier to talk around issues than it is to talk them through.

    I would never advise to not listen to your parents. They may not be right but they aren’t totally wrong either. You have to seek to understand before you can expect to be understood.

  53. Jerry August 27, 2015 at 9:49 am #

    Maybe this kid lives in a bad neighborhood and had friends who are terrible human beings.

  54. Emily August 27, 2015 at 10:46 am #

    Another thing–I don’t think “general play and hanging out” is such a bad thing, especially since so many kids’ lives are filled with one structured activity after another. I’m not condoning vandalism, theft, promiscuity, binge-drinking, or the use or private sale of illegal drugs (i.e., the “worst-first” ideas of what young people do when they get together without a strict itinerary), but sometimes “hanging out” is exactly the point; to spend some time together that isn’t at school, or basketball practice, or whatever. Even adults sometimes visit each other just to visit, or go for a walk or a drive with no destination in mind, and nobody sees anything wrong with that, so I don’t think it’s so bad when young people do similar things. I think young people especially need that time, because it can often help them figure out who they are, and who their friends are, et cetera, during the unstructured moments in their lives.

  55. Papilio August 27, 2015 at 12:36 pm #

    Re: the word “play”, I kind of assumed they’d come over with a ball and invite this kid to play football*.

    @Jerry: Or it’s an Indian kid with completely normal but *English* friends. (Do we even know if this is a boy or do we just assume because of the pic?)

    *http://tinyurl.com/nzp7nnr (It’s the UK after all.)

  56. Steve August 27, 2015 at 2:12 pm #

    Buy a copy of Lenore’s book – Free Range Kids – or get a library copy and put it in your parents hands and suggest that if they read it, they might change their ideas of how to raise a dependable, happy, independent child.

    OR…

    Challenge your parents to spend at least 2 hours reading this blog. The fact is they could spend days here reading and learning.”

    Show them youtube videos of Lenore Skenazy presenting her information to audiences.
    Perhaps you should sort through the videos first to find the ones that address your situation best.

    But ultimately, use your power of persuasion to get them to “learn something new.”

    If they read this blog, they could also ask specific questions and get many good answers.

  57. Chuck99 August 27, 2015 at 5:35 pm #

    I think the question is less about how to get out of this, but why they’re treating you like this. Have you been in trouble before? I know my son would often feel like he’d ‘reformed’ and ‘proved himself’ long before I would feel he had earned his rights back. On the other hand, maybe your parents were holy terrors when they were your age, and they’re afraid of you doing the same thing.

    My suggestion would be simply to talk to them about why they won’t let you do anything. Explain that what they’re doing to you is unhealthy at least.

    If that doesn’t work, find another adult whom you trust to discuss this with. They would have more information about your area and background, and might be able to suggest something.

  58. SOA August 27, 2015 at 9:23 pm #

    There may not be anything wrong with his friends. I was a model student with an after school job and extra curricular activities etc and my best friend’s mom still tried to peg me as a “Bad influence”. I never have forgiven that women for that. Of all the kids to call a bad influence I would be the last one. I would make her do her hw and we would go to the movies. I was actually a good influence.

    But her mother assumed any problems her daughter had were someone else’s fault so she blamed the nearest person which was me.

    Nope. The only reason her daughter passed any of her classes freshman year was because I helped her so much on group projects and studying and doing hw.

    Some parents think no kids are good enough to be friends with their kid. So I am not so quick to jump to say the kids are not good enough. The parent sounds too harsh.

  59. tz August 27, 2015 at 11:08 pm #

    So mom, exactly when will you cut the apron strings? When if ever will I be ready to become responsible for my own life, my own safety? If you keep me cloistered, then dump me into “the real world”, I’m going to be hurt far worse since I will have no idea what to expect nor any practice in how to handle it. You don’t want me to have it now? Why? Or better yet, what do I have to do, what do I have to prove? Give me karate lessons? Take a phone with me so I can reply to your frequent texts that you are going to freak out unless I can send a selfie to prove I’m still safe? Endure an interrogation when I return about everything that happened while I was at the park? Fine. I think you will be bored and waste time, but I’m willing to show you I am responsible and not a toddler anymore. That I know to call you if something happens. That I’m not going to get into trouble – and why aren’t you worried about me on the internet? I’m going across the world, and there are lots of not very nice people. You don’t feel threatened by them. Why do you fear fresh air?

  60. PG August 28, 2015 at 3:00 am #

    I think Lenore’s advice is pretty solid. We were all 14 at some point in time, and I think most parents think to themselves, “I hope my child doesn’t pull half the stuff I did when I was a teenager”. A lot of parents think that way because they made mistakes during their childhood. I think a lot of parents forget is that by making mistakes, they learned how to fix them. The subtext to this story of calling this 14 year old’s friends a “bad influence” is that this teenager’s parents aren’t allowing mistakes. I think that’s rather unfortunate. My advice to the teenager is to change your parent’s minds. It’s important because it improves your relationship with your family. It’s also an important life lesson because, as an adult, you’re going to have to change other adult’s minds. The point I’m trying to make is that you can either view others as obstacles or as people that you’re going to work with.

  61. Daniel August 28, 2015 at 6:45 pm #

    At 14 you can join the Explorer scouts, Prehaps your parents will allow that because there is an adult present most of the time and you will make new friends who your parents may approve of.

    The way explorers works though is that the adult in an ideal world is merely there to facilitate you running the programme as you want to with the adults taking a back seat role. UK scouting rules even allows explorers to go camping without a leader once whichever Explorer is in charge of the group (usually one of the older ones, explorers runs from 14 – 17+364 days) has been deemed competent. There is adult supervision but this will be remote such as requiring a phone call check in on arrival, and possibly a leader visit for an hour or so

  62. Itai August 31, 2015 at 7:36 am #

    Dear youngster,
    According to your reply, you have not tried the other part of Lenore’s advice: building your parents’ trust gradually by taking responsibility and demonstrating competence. Repeating the ritual of request & denial does not get you anywhere. Try reading Lenore’s reply again and consider that path. It is harder then just asking your Mom once more. This direction requires more determination and patience – another proof, if successful, that you are mature enough.
    You might also try inviting a friend or two over. Meeting your friends and seeing they are not that bad might also start a shift in your parents mind.

  63. Emma August 31, 2015 at 11:14 pm #

    I don’t really have advice but I have some names.

    Adam Walsh

    Polly Klass

    Amber Hagerman

    Jaycee Dugaurd

    Steven Stayner (Not sure how to spell his name)

    Delimar Vera

    Need I say more? Do I have to actually spell out for your tiny underdeveloped “mind” who these people are Lenore Skenazy ?

    Or rather three of them are and three of them WERE?

    or are they not even people to you ?

    Not now and not ever?

    You seem pretty damn “Special” the way you grin like a giggly Barbie doll and think the world is sunshine and rainbows all to the backround of barney singing the I love you song 24 hours a day seven days a week three hundred sixty five days a year

    So I’m going to tell you. if I use too many big words for that tiny mind of yours let me know and I’ll dumb it down for you even more.

    Three WERE kids. They HAD birthdays. they HAD friends they played and visited with. they HAD families they loved.

    Guess what bitch. While you’re skipping around like a fucking drooling retarded fairy from happyland

    three of those names no longer are kids. three of those names no longer have birthdays . three of those names no longer have friends they play with and visit with or families they love.

    Why?

    Because when you’re dead you don’t live you don’t have birthdays or friends you play and visit with or family you love.

    Why are they dead? Well in your little bubble world full of puppies and kitties and nobody getting hurt because every inch of the world in your head is covered with soft stuff they’re not dead. or they’re not real and they never were or they’re just “hiding” . who knows what goes on in the tiny mushy mind of a moron like you.

    But despite the lies you tell people and your sheep (Oh I’m sorry I meant “followers”) eagerly lick up from your shit spewing asshole (oh sorry I meant “mouth” it’s just so hard to tell it from the other so much shit comes spewing out of both you see…)

    they ARE real or rather they WERE real

    and they’re not just “hiding”

    THEY. ARE. DEAD.

    Why? because their “parents” trusted them.

    One name’s parents trusted him to stay at the video games in sears while his so called mother shopped for lamps because lamps are more important than children.

    One’s parents trusted her to have a slumber party while they slept and be there when they woke up.

    One’s mother trusted her and her brother to go ride bikes at Winn Dixie and come home while she stayed at home and sat on her worthless ass!

    What will you say now? What will you say to those parents? “Oh your kid isn’t dead you never had a kid!”? “Oh your kid isn’t dead he/she is just hiding”?

  64. Emma August 31, 2015 at 11:18 pm #

    Maybe the “Kid” that “wrote” that note (come on we all know it was YOU moron!)

    Should ask someone else besides you for advice. I can think of some names of people “she” or “he” can ask.

    they could ask Adam Walsh or his mom and dad

    or how about Polly Klass and her mom and dad?

    Or Amber Hagerman or her mom?

    Wait no that wouldn’t work out too well and I wonder why….

    Oh yeah that’s right

    Adam Walsh Polly Klass and Amber Hagerman al have one thing in common

    THEY’RE DEAD BECAUSE OF FUCKTARDS LIKE YOU!

  65. Emma August 31, 2015 at 11:24 pm #

    you know now that I think about it (And unlike you and your sheep (oh sorry again I meant followers!) I know how to think)

    there’s a nice family down the street from me the lady is really sweet and the guy is damn funny

    but what’s this? I said “family” but I only mentioned a husband and a wife?

    that’s because there isn’t a kid there any longer.

    She was murdered.

    Would you like the couples number? YOu can call them and give them the same tired ass-vomit you spew to your sheep (UGH! did it again! I mean followers!) you know things like

    “kids never die”

    “Kids never get killed”

    “Nobody ever hurts kids”

    why am I quoting you. surely you know the shit you spew out of your second asshole. You know the one right under your nose ?

  66. ChicagoDad August 31, 2015 at 11:33 pm #

    :-O

  67. James Pollock September 1, 2015 at 12:27 am #

    Emma, have you met Warren?

  68. Emma September 1, 2015 at 1:57 pm #

    Baa Baaa Lenore Skenazy ‘s sheep have you any wool?

  69. Emily September 1, 2015 at 3:55 pm #

    Hey, just popping in to verify that Emma and I aren’t the same person. I agree with Lenore.

  70. Emma September 1, 2015 at 9:06 pm #

    sheep normally do blindly agree and follow the leader.

    so you stating that you like all other sheep are blindly following while nodding your head just like the rest of Lenore’s flock is neither news worthy or a shock.

  71. Emily September 1, 2015 at 10:52 pm #

    No, Emma, I clarified my identity because sometimes, on some forums, known members like to stir the pot by trolling under pseudonyms. Lenore would have our IP addresses, so I wanted to make sure she knew that I wasn’t doing that. As for why I agree with her, it’s not because I’m a sheep. I think of myself as being a first-generation bubble-wrapped kid, because O.J. Simpson and Carla Holmolka made the headlines when I was around six or seven, my parents read a lot of newspaper articles about it, and they got paranoid and overprotected me and my brother, so we both remember our childhood years as being very supervised and stifled. Yes, we’re safe, but so were our peers who were allowed to bike freely around town at ten years old. Ironically, I actually got sexually assaulted (but ran away before the guy could do the deed) by a guy I met on my first visit to a bar, three days before leaving for university for the first time (I’m Canadian, so I was legal to drink then). Yes, I was traumatized, but I don’t think that incident was worse than years of being cooped up inside, missing out on the unstructured moments of childhood that other kids enjoyed, and that tighter supervision “for my own good” ultimately didn’t protect me from everything, so I’ve always wondered if things would have been different if I’d been allowed a longer leash. I wasn’t a bad kid, but it took joining multiple extra-curricular activities in high school, to get my parents to ease up. My brother wasn’t a joiner, so he was effectively cloistered until he graduated.

  72. Warren September 2, 2015 at 2:52 am #

    James,

    Go you know what.

  73. Emma September 2, 2015 at 2:41 pm #

    Meh is brat should toughen up and stop acting like s/h/it is all that. by the looks of this ass-drivel you sheep call a “post” the “writer” is 14. 14!!!!!!!! and yet s/h/it thinks s/h/it is an adult and should get to do whatever s/h/it wants all while living rent free under mommy and daddy’s roof!

    if MY kid ever did such a thing or wrote such a letter and I found out about it I would kick her to the curb and tell her “Alright! You want to do whatever you want with whoever you want whenever you want as if you were somebody and an adult?! FINE! Go! But do NOT come crawling back here! I do NOT want to see your ungrateful face EVER again! If I do there will be HELL to pay! and I swear to fucking god GIRL if your slutty ass ends up pregnant I will make you regret the day you were born because I already do!”

    and I would stick to my word. I would also make sure that all friends and family and neighbors know that she no longer exists to ANYONE and if I find out ANYONE is helping/feeding/speaking/looking at/sheltering her they will have HELL to fucking pay and will wish their parents never had sex!

    Bottom line is if MY CHILD wants to act like an ungrateful pile of gutter trash that is how she will be treated!

  74. SM September 3, 2015 at 12:47 pm #

    Dear friend.

    First of all know that your request is totally reasonable. Secondly, try to put yourself at your parents shoes and understand that they are not doing this to punish you, they wrongly think that by doing this they are keeping you safe. In addition, understand that parents do not know everything and make mistakes. Obviously your parents fail at this point to understand that they are negatively affecting you by doing this. What I believe you should do is try to make them see how harm they are doing to you and your future as an adult when they will no longer be able to ‘protect’ you. How will you be able to protect yourself when they won’t be around if you don’t learn that from an early age. This is what happens instinctively in all species. The baby bird is being taught by its mother to fly in order to survive when she is not around.
    I think that you should write a letter to your parents regarding your feelings and your reasonable concerns about your ability to face the future challenges in your life and ask them to read it when you are not around. Try to speak to their hart (especially your mum’s) This will give them the time to think things through, get emotional and possibly talk with each other about changing this.

    For parents:
    ‘Finding a balance between keeping your children safe and allowing them to explore and learn about the world is a challenge for every parent. But by letting your kids express themselves and embark upon adventures great and small, they will have a head start on every other child sat indoors.’

    http://www.virgin.com/entrepreneur/richard-branson-5-lessons-my-mum

    I am sure you will find your way

  75. MarkM September 3, 2015 at 2:50 pm #

    To Emma,

    Lenora never said kids don’t get killed. What she has said is that the probability of that occurring is much, much lower than most parents would estimate, especially the various forms of stranger-danger. For the record, I grew up in the 70s-80s, mostly in what is referred to as the North Shore Chicago suburbs and have kids of my own. When I went to UPenn for college, it was during an unfortunate period in which we lost a student to violence pretty much every single year I was there. Even before that, in high school, we lost kids to drunk driving accidents.

    I understand you are sad and frustrated that the neighbor’s child is dead. Addressing your more specific sites:
    The three who died are widely spaced in time and happened a while ago: Adam Walsh died in 1981; Polly Klaas died in 1993; and Amber Hagerman died in 1996.

    The next 3 you listed were kidnap victims. Steven Staynar was kidnapped in 1972 and escaped in 1980 (saving another kidnapped kid); Delimar Vera was kidnapped as a baby from her home by an acquaintance in 1997 and recovered by her mother in 2004; Jaycee Lee Dugard was kidnapped in 1991 and not recovered until 2009. I would tend to suggest the Delimar Vera kidnapping was unlikely the other 2, but I assume you knew that already.

    Each of these was news worthy and grabbed national media attention. By definition, that means these were rare events (and involved photogenic victims). This is like worrying about a lightning strike.

    If you really want to worry, let’s talk about places where kids dying no longer makes the national news. I live in the Chicago area and the stats here are much higher in frequency, especially in poor neighborhoods. In 2010, nearly 700 Chicago school children were shot and 66 of them died. In 2011, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel attended a memorial for 260 school children who had been killed in just the previous three years. In 2014, over 300 kids (ages 0-17) were shot and of that group, I think over 50 died (hard to read the graph I found). The scary thing is I know that, if anything, these stats have been downplayed/reduced for political reasons. In contrast, there were 396,683 kids enrolled in the Chicago public schools in the 2014-2015 /20th Day Enrollment. So, the odds of any one of those kids getting killed in a given year is actually down around 0.022% across the entire city. Let’s say the numbers are too conservative and increase the homicide rate to 200 kids per year in that 400K population. The odds are then 0.05% per year that a given kid will be killed (1 in 2000). Over an 18 year childhood (assuming independence, etc. … not true, but it makes the math easy), that means each child has a 0.896% chance of being killed (1 in 111). Please note that this is Chicago, so that includes kids that are killed by random gunfire in their own homes, kids killed by abusive parents/other family members, as well as kids in gangs who are killed over territory, etc. These statistics are also a city-wide average and it is quite clear the rates are higher some places and lower others within the city.

    The risk of stranger abduction/kidnapping is, frankly, far lower than their overall risk of dying. The last estimate I’ve found suggest only about 115 children/year in the entire US are subjected to an abduction/kidnapping. The attempt rate is much higher – but the successful rate is fortunately very low. The missing children problem has actually been improving – FBI statistics showing fewer missing persons of all ages — down 31 percent between 1997 and 2011. The numbers of homicides, sexual assaults and almost all other crimes against children have been dropping, too. It’s not just Lenore saying so. See –

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/five-myths-about-missing-children/2013/05/10/efee398c-b8b4-11e2-aa9e-a02b765ff0ea_story.html

    In his book Protecting the Gift, child-safety expert Gavin De Becker pointed out that compared to a stranger kidnapping, a “child is vastly more likely to have a heart attack, and child heart attacks are so rare that most parents (correctly) never even consider the risk.”

    [Ok – some of the above is plagiarized from various sources, but I think it makes my point.] Now, this is not great for the 100 odd kids who get hit by lightning and victimized by a stranger, but are you really going to try to make policy based on that small of a risk?

  76. ChicagoDad September 3, 2015 at 4:41 pm #

    @MarkM, great comment. I think I learned something new reading it. Thanks!

  77. Emma September 7, 2015 at 5:41 am #

    I hesitated to mention Delimar Vera. She was lucky her mama knew. I recently saw the movie (yes lifetime still shows movies now and then no LMN here though basic cable only. HEY COX MAKE LMN BASIC! You did Disney which also started out as premium which I guess would be the older sister to digital cable only?

    However did her mama manage to realize the playful little girl at that party was Delimar?

    As for the movie there are six scenes that “get me”

    the opening scene the boys playing when their aunt runs out and tells them to go and get their dad because the baby was coming followed by everyone at the autoshop cheering for the dad as he rushed off to join his family and the resulting scene of him trying to do everything at once (Just get in the car pedro! lol classic.)

    the hospital scene where he won’t hold Delimar because he might break her.

    THe party where the women (including the kidnapper) were laughing over the size of another lady’s breasts.

    the four women (the mom the kidnapper and two aunts ) watching Delimar sleep and whispering about things they thought would help Delimar grow.

    the fire and Mom and Dad sad to think Delimar is dead….(I cried)

    Mom having a feeling Delimar did not die but is alive somewhere. (and dad getting mad and leaving 🙁 )

    six years later Mom at a party and there’s a six year old girl being funny and she sees her and somehow “knows” it’s Delimar.

    Mom spending a moment with Delimar and retending theres gum in the girls hair so she can get a sample for DNA.

    Mom happening to come out of church as an Ad for Angel Cruz’s campaign plays on a loud speaker (the voice of the people)

    Mom going to him for help and somehow convincing him to listen to her

    this scene “Do you believe me Mr Cruz?” “……….Si”

    Angel Cruz keeping his word and ordering the DNA tests

    the kidnapper trying to ruin everything but the little girl finding courage to tell. (Mommy sprayed something in my mouth it tasted bad)

    Mom waiting for the news. Afraid she could be wrong. Scared she would always be searching for Delimar

    Angel Cruz calling her to his office and the resulting scene with the mom and the brothers (Come here your mama needs you)

    Finally being called into Angel’s office for good news at last

    this scene “the DNA tests were a match…..and the girl is….Delimar!” “I did it?” “You did it!!”

    the kidnapper trying to run away with Delimar and being stopped by the police and Delimar who doesn’t know the truth crying (PLease don’t take my mommy!)

    Mother and daughter together again for the first time… (I knew you your whole life… AWWWW)

    Delimar coming home and meeting her brothers and her aunt and her dad (I have a Papi?!)

    Delimar reunited with an ‘old friend’ (the doll she slept with as a baby)

    Delimar playing with her brothers happily ever after.

    ok that turned out more than six so sue me!

    She and Elizabeth Smart were lucky so was Steven and that boy he saved.