Lakshmi (mother of Smriti, 14): I always brought them up independently, like they were allowed to think and even with whatever they did, I encouraged them to be independent. Right from the beginning they had to organise their own bag for school; they had to organise to remember to take everything to school. Those sorts of things. And, umm... especially with Smriti I think she feels that she’s 18, 20, but I know she’s only 14. And, especially because she’s my youngest, I probably think she’s 12 or treat her like a 12-year-old which she just doesn’t like. But I do worry about her, especially with her outings in the holidays when she goes to her friend’s place, where they catch up and sometimes it’s out in Blacktown, sometimes it’s somewhere near Strathfield and Burwood, and she says – she’s quite independent – and says ‘I know how to get there, and don’t worry about me. I’ll be there and I’ll be back in time.’ That sort of thing worries me, because she has to take the public transport. ‘Do you know how to get to their place from where you get off the bus?’ And she says ‘Yes, I know, I’ve worked everything out Mum, it’s only five minutes’ walk.’ You know, that worries me. But she thinks she’s... she can get to places.
Nina (age 13): I can catch a train and they go ‘Wow, you did that,’ and with my other sisters it’s like ‘No you have to go with us first.’ Umm... My dad asked me on my first day of school – like we did a practice to go to high school – he’s like ‘Are you sure you don’t want me to come?’ and that kind of thing. And I’m like ‘Oh no, I can do it’ and just small things like that, I think that’s pretty cool, you know, knowing that you can do stuff that your sisters can’t do is pretty cool [laughs].
Sam (age 13): Mum and Dad let me go with my friends places if, like, they know what time I’ll get back and where I’m going and stuff. And umm, I catch a bus to school every day.
Oscar (age 15): I’ve got a good amount of independence but my mum still cares kind of what I do, so it’s a good feeling. But, a lot of friends’ parents just let them go out all weekend, they don’t care. Well, they obviously care but they don’t know; they don’t seem to make the effort to work out where the kids are, or who they’re with, or what they’re doing.
Lakshmi: She’s not asking me to go out at night or anything because she knows it’ll be a ‘No’, I guess, but umm, and she’s not even worried she knows that her brother is allowed to go because he’s 18. So, she’s not asking me for those things yet.
Oscar: When you’re young you don’t really notice going out on weekends – like going out on a Friday or Saturday night’s like a really big deal – umm, but I guess you just chill at home and watch movies with your parents and stuff like that.
Ted (father of Nina, 13): It’s nice and gradual, it’s not like a really sudden shift of gear, which has been kind of... I suppose in line with my expectations really. Just becoming more and more independent.
Trish (mother of Sam, 13): Things have definitely changed. About the end, towards the end of year 7, coming into year 8, of Sam wanting to go out. Umm, just telling me, you know, ‘This is what I’m doing, I’m going out.’ And how we deal with that is to try and come up with a plan; work out who’s going to be around; what other parents think about it. And if he’s maybe paying for it because, for instance, he wanted to go to Luna Park, he wanted to go to the movies. It’s all pretty expensive sometimes so we try to encourage him to do things that maybe cost but then the next time maybe go to the beach. And when he was in a situation recently where he was going to the beach, we weren’t that comfortable with his surf skills, but then we found out that his friend’s dad was going as well. But it was a difficult situation for him to just go to the beach with another friend who was probably better in the water – in the surf – than he was. So we had to deal with that.
Kristin (mother of Oscar, 15): It’s just a really gradual thing. Umm... well we’ve never gone backwards because he’s never done anything terrible. So we’ve never had that thing where I’ve had to wind everything back, and ground him and move his curfew back and do all that sort of stuff.