The age of 12 is the beginning of independence – according to parents


A poll of 750 parents and their children aged 6-16 found mums and dads see their youngsters being able to use public transport alone and being allowed to go to sleepovers or spend nights away from home as signs of growing up.

But the biggest signs, they say, are walking to school without a parent or guardian (21 per cent) and expressing their own opinions (21 per cent).

When it comes to kids developing their own financial freedom, top signs included their child choosing how they spend and save (29 per cent), having a spending card instead of cash (25 per cent), and getting a part-time job (25 per cent).

But with another school year approaching and many youngsters set to start secondary school, 16 per cent of parents facing this are worried about ‘letting go’ and giving them more freedom.

Will Carmichael, CEO of NatWest Rooster Money, which commissioned the research, said: “Money is such an important part of our lives as adults, so it’s essential families are empowered to help kids get to grips with it early.

“And clearly parents are on board with that, with 37 per cent wanting to play an active role in helping their children develop their sense of independence.

“Our survey has also shown that creating the right framework to empower kids to get the level of freedom they want, whilst giving parents the reassurance they need, is really important – especially when it comes to these inflection points in a child’s (and parent’s!) life.”

The first taste of freedom
The study also found 20 per cent of parents whose child is reaching their secondary school years are anxious about them walking to school alone, although almost the same number (21 per cent) consider this to be an indicator of their freedom.

The other biggest anxieties were around relinquishing control, with 21 per cent concerned about their child handling their own money at school.

A further 20 per cent are hung up on who kids make friends with, and 19 per cent worry their child’s friends could influence them to buy things they aren’t comfortable with.

It also emerged 21 per cent of children approaching their next stage of schooling are most looking forward to more freedom when they get to this point.

But 24 per cent of parents say they aren’t ready for their little one to be more independent, while 37 per cent are still looking forward to helping their youngster grow up rather than letting go.

The research also found 46 per cent reckon today’s kids are becoming independent at a much younger age.

Of those, 38 per cent think it’s because they have access to more knowledge through the internet and social media.

While 36 per cent put it down to mums and dads having more open and honest conversations with their offspring.

Of the parents who have a 13-16 year old, 46 per cent have given their youngster even more monetary independence by allowing them to have a part-time job.

Yet well under half (39 per cent) of those in this group think their kids understand the value of money.

Although three in four parents currently give their child some form of pocket money – whether ‘earned’ or not – at an average of £17 a month.

Self-sufficiency is fundamental
The research, conducted via OnePoll, also revealed the things parents would be happy for their kids to spend their money on without asking, including books (31 per cent), clothes (21 per cent) and even sweet treats (22 per cent).

Which is good news for youngsters, as 23 per cent would like to splash their cash on clothes without checking with mum or dad initially, as well as purchasing sweets without asking first (23 per cent).

It also emerged three in 10 six to 16-year-olds think they understand the value of money, compared to 36 per cent of parents that would say the same about their children.

Dr Linda Papadopoulos, a leading child behavioural psychologist added: “Parenting can be one of the most rewarding and challenging life experiences and one of the most fundamental aspects of parenting is to help kids become self-sufficient.

“That transition from depending on you completely to being able to make choices and decisions that feed into their emotional, physical and practical wellbeing is fundamental for their confidence and healthy development.

“As such, learning to balance our need to keep our kids safe with the equally important need of letting them challenge themselves, try new things and slowly experience independence is key.”
Top 20 things that would make parents feel their child is being more independent
1. Expressing their opinion on things
2. Walking to school without a parent/ guardian
3. Managing how they spend and save their money
4. Getting a part-time job
5. Getting ready for school themselves
6. Having their own interests they want to pursue
7. Going into a shop alone to buy and/or pay for something
8. Being responsible for remembering to do homework
9. Getting public transport without a parent/ guardian
10. Spending more time with their friends and less time with me
11. Choosing their own outfits
12. Getting a mobile phone
13. Choosing what they spend their pocket money on without asking
14. Having chores
15. Being allowed to go on sleepovers/stay the night away from home
16. Making their own meals
17. Cooking a meal by themselves
18. Opening a bank account/spending account
19. Having a bank/spending card instead of using cash
20. Resolving their own conflicts

Top 10 things that would make children feel more independent
1. Walking to school without a parent/ guardian
2. Getting public transport without a parent/ guardian
3. Joining social media / having my own social media accounts
4. Having chores
5. Having a boyfriend or girlfriend
6. Making my own lunches
7. Being left at home alone
8. Being allowed to go on sleepovers/stay the night away from home
9. Getting ready for school myself (e.g. packing my own bag, lunch etc.)
10. Being responsible for remembering to do my homework

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