Eighteen is the age at which is person attains the right to vote, which in essence means that he or she should be literate and able to cast an independent vote based on their interpretation of the candidates’ platforms. In other words, our nation is practically saying to the fresh-out-of-childhood adults that we trust you to have a direct hand in the future of our democracy, which is a pretty big deal if you think about it. This is also the age when the individual is held liable for their own actions; they can choose to risk their lives for their country and be a representative of the United States abroad through military service without requiring parental consent. An eighteen-year-old can even walk into a convenience store with thorough knowledge of the adverse effects carcinogenics have on the human body and still buy a pack of cigarettes of his or her own free will.
Once a person turns eighteen, it is no longer the parent’s legal responsibility to support or be held responsible for his or her actions. So you’re on your own now, kid!
But before we jump that far in the future, let’s focus on the development of the child and the social skills they learn at school from professionals and peers. Which, depending on the student population, you may not want them to mimic the social behavior of the children with whom they spend at least third of their day most days of the week.
For some working parents, especially single parents, the schoolhouse itself is the equivalent a magic curtain that changes the well-behaved child that they know into the severely disrespectful wild child that teachers call home about. Children demonstrate the values he learns at home around his or her parents because the consequences are more swift and personal. On the other hand, while they are at school in a completely different environment they will more than likely adjust to match the behavior of their closest friends. In some instances, this is not a direct reflection of the parents’ parenting skills. It is a reflection, however, of what the child deems most important at the time: integrity or acceptance.
One way that parents can intercept the adaptation of negative behavior by association, is to monitor the company they keep. Make a point to not only be aware of what their child is doing on a daily basis, but what their friends do one a daily basis. Get to know where their friends live, who their parents are and what they do for a living, what other family members live in the household and who or what influences them. When children see their parents place importance on the company they keep in their youth, they will have a model to follow in choosing their associates when they are older.
Obviously kids may find themselves a bit perturbed with an increase in parental involvement, but if a bout of adolescence annoyance saves them from a potentially toxic relationship or friendship, they will look back on this learning experience with gratitude.
Anything a child does and anyone they spend a considerable amount of time around is the parents business. Until these young ones turn eighteen the government, and society for that matter, will hold the parents responsible for their actions.
Stay safe, informed, and wise.