This I Believe

Portia - San Pablo, California
Entered on January 9, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

I believe that the key to gaining freedom as teenagers is to respect the restrictions that our parents set.

Growing up my mom needed to shelter me. We lived in a bad area where bullets flew without having any specific name on them. In the apartment complex lived known rapists and pedophiles. She had to protect me from our environment. She didn’t keep me locked in the house like some criminal, but she did set restrictions that she expected me to abide by. When the outside lights came on, I was expected to be in or near the house, where she could see me. She didn’t allow me to go to any of my friends’ houses alone. She had to be with me or she needed to know that I was with an adult she knew and trusted. If I wanted to go to the corner store, only two blocks away, I had to take someone with me (preferably my guy cousin). At the time I questioned her rules regularly, but eventually after hearing her explain why she had such rules, so many times, it just became normal to follow them. She was the mother; she set the rules to protect me. I was the daughter; I had to follow them.

As I got older, my preteen and early teen years, she began to give me more freedom. Most would say that this is the time when their parent’s rules were the strictest, but for me it was the opposite. I was now able to go to parties. Before every party, we’d sit down and discuss responsibility. We talked about abstaining from drugs, alcohol and sex. I gave her my word that I would stay away from those things, and she expected me to keep it; so I did.

Over the years I built up that trust by my actions: by showing that I could be responsible for myself, mostly by following my mom’s guidelines. My junior year of high school, I asked my mom why she gave me so much freedom. Now that may be a crazy question to ask, but at the time I was too curious about the answer to think about anything that may result from my asking it. All the teens around me were complaining about how strict their parents were and how they couldn’t do anything they wanted to do. My mom answered my question with three simple, but powerful words; “I trust you.” She told me that growing up she saw that her words held value to me and that I respected what she told me I could and couldn’t do. She knew that I would act the same around her and away from her.

I’m now a senior in high school and I have all the freedom a seventeen-year-old girl could ask for. My mom trusts that what I do with my freedom will continue to reflect what she has taught me. I know first hand that respecting the restrictions outlined by our parents will gain you freedom.