At what age should children first leave the house on their own, visit their friend next door on their own, go to the cinema on their own, hitchhike from coast to coast on their own, etc.?

“At what age should children first leave the house on their own, visit their friend next door on their own, go to the cinema on their own, hitchhike from coast to coast on their own, etc.?”

Like all human beings, children have the right to freedom of association, and can therefore come and go as they please. There is no particular age at which they should pass various “milestones” in their autonomy (nor any particular order either). As in all matters, we parents are available and very willing to be consulted, and we give our children whatever information they might be lacking and want, so that they can make informed decisions. They are entitled to follow such advice or not, as they see fit.

If that sounds like a recipe for disaster, it may be that you are imagining that children taken seriously are just as unlikely to listen to important warnings given by their parents as are children whose parents think coercion is sometimes necessary.

That is not the case. When we human beings are in a relationship in which the other person has power over us and uses that power to force us to do their bidding instead of what we ourselves think best, the natural human response is to undermine that coercion, whether directly, or secretly. Moreover, in such a relationship, we have no reason to trust that person on those occasions when he is giving us important information that it is actually in our best interests to take into account. There is no way for us to know which is which.

By contrast, in a relationship characterised by consent, on those occasions when the other person is warning us that our proposed course of action may be unwise, and explaining why, we have every reason to trust that such warnings are not attempts to thwart us and ruin our fun, but are actually important – that it is actually in our best interests to heed the warnings.

So non-coercive relationships are actually much safer than coercive ones. Non-coercive ones allow information to be given without the muddying possibility that the information being offered might be just another attempt to coerce us.

See also: The rationalist mistake
Children fending for themselves like adults?!
Surely children need to learn to deal with restrictions to prepare them for life in society?

Sarah Fitz-Claridge, Taking Children Seriously FAQ: ‘At what age should children first leave the house on their own, visit their friend next door on their own, go to the cinema on their own, hitchhike from coast to coast on their own, etc.?’, https://www.takingchildrenseriously.com/at-what-age-should-children-first-leave-the-house-on-their-own-visit-their-friend-next-door-on-their-own-go-to-the-cinema-on-their-own-hitchhike-from-coast-to-coast-on-their-own-etc/

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