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Should Life Lessons Be Taught or Experienced?

Sri Polkampally, Opinions Editor

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Is it the parents’ role to guide their children every step of the way to their adulthood? Or, should parents allow more leeway and let their children experience life, while making mistakes along the way? Some parents will forever see their kids as children and will attempt to protect them in any way possible. However, the overprotection that sometimes comes with this parenting leaves children oblivious to the reality of the world. A differing parent style is one that is more free-going and allows for independent thoughts and actions of their children. However, is it good parenting to leave kids without aid if they are surrounding themselves with the wrong company and depict behaviors that are signs of carelessness and disappointment.

The answer to these questions is important because the way children are raised leaves a permanent effect on their development into adulthood.

I want to bring my own childhood as an example. I love my parents and I respect them more than anyone else in this world. However, I do feel that the overprotection I was given in my childhood left me unprepared for much of middle school and high school. I was shielded from the “bad communities” and the “wrong people” and was only exposed to the paths my parents found safe. Due to this shielding, I found it much more difficult to interact with my peers and connect with them, which resulted in periods of loneliness. Although I would not personally want to change my behavior and attitude just to fit in with the crowd, if I could go back in time, I would allow myself some exposure to this world.

However, as much as I wish I raised to be more independent and aware, I would not want to be raised in the complete opposite scenario of my life either. At a leadership conference last summer, I met a young woman, whose childhood was the polar opposite of mine. Her parents separated when she was young and never felt the sense of love and responsibility from a family. She was slowly attracted to drugs and alcohol and began going under the influence her sophomore year of high school. She is doing her very best now to stay clean and fortunately, has the help to do so from school social workers and counselors (she still fails to gain support from her parents).

Ideally, parenting should be like a lighthouse by the sea. Children should be allowed to explore to a certain extent, but should have the light and protection of their parents when they are lost. Strictly controlling every step a child takes blind-sights them and leaves them unprepared to face the reality of the world when time comes to be independent. However, leaving children and young adult to be completely independent leads to a new set of problems, where poor decision making can cause lives, property, and much more. The balance to these extreme styles of parenting will allow for children to develop independently, while getting the aid and advice they desire.

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Should Life Lessons Be Taught or Experienced?