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More on raising the vagabond

Apropos the last post, I have to say I find it interesting to hear about curfews in other parts of the world, from which I glean that teenagers elsewhere are generally not permitted to stay out as late as they are here.

I’d like to be able to say that this is because Iceland is much safer than Everywhere Else, but alas, I fear that is not so, at least not any more. A few years ago I would not have worried so much about AAH walking alone at night – or, indeed, about walking alone at night, myself – but I certainly do now, and she has strict instructions not to. In fact, one of the cardinal rules in her staying out so late is that she either walk home with a group of people, or take a taxi. And under no circumstances is she to be hanging around downtown, or anywhere outside.

That said, parents of Icelandic teens seem to be very lenient as a rule. Some of AAH’s friends have curfews, but many do not – or they do, but stay out pretty much as late as they want, anyway, since their parents don’t seem to monitor their comings and goings. This seems to jibe with child-rearing here in general, which leans towards giving kids a lot of freedom. The upside is that it produces children who are independent and self-sufficient, the downside of course is that it produces neglect.

As for YT, lest I give the impression that AAH got off scot-free after last weekend’s vanishing act, let me assure you that she did not. We had a Serious Talk and she was made well aware of her mother’s feelings on the subject, including my anger at the fact that she deliberately deceived us. However, through a lot of trial and error in the last couple of years I’ve come to the conclusion that turning the house into a silent war zone is not the best tactic to employ when it comes to raising the teenager, and that at age 16 it is hard to apply the same strategy as was applied at age 13 or 14 [removal of computer and other privileges, etc.]. Put simply, I’ve come to realize that I can’t chain her down. If she’s intent on staying out all night, she’ll stay out all night, and I’m much better off appealing to her [thankfully considerable] common sense and desire to cooperate than I am laying down laws and imposing punitive measures. Although, I hasten to add, there are limits to what I will accept.

Also, there’s a slight complicating factor in this equation: as soon as AAH turned 16, went into upper secondary school [senior high] and felt grown up enough to insist on staying out all night, I sort of ran into a wall with my child-raising tactics. Why? Because I had no frame of reference from my own experience. When I was the same age as she is now, I was already living on my own and had no one to impose curfews or monitor what time I came home. It kind of boggles my mind. But that’s how it goes – we draw on our own experiences in everything, and deviating from what we have come to know and forging new paths is the hardest thing to do. We’re creatures of habit, often to a greater extent than we think.

I’m desperate for a run, but am not relishing a struggle. It was very windy in the night and is still around 15-18 m/s but the weatherman sez it should die down this afternoon so I’m hanging on, hoping he keeps his promise. The sun has just come out which is always a delight [particularly during SAD season] and current temps are 7°C [45F]. The sun came up at 9.25 this morning and will set at – yikes! – 4.56 pm.