A house for a 15-year-old?!
How does the idea of almost complete freedom for teenagers strike you? Their own housing, and independent social lives? Are Malaysian parents willing, or even ready for something like this?
Most teenagers want a late curfew, lots of money to spend on whatever and whomever they like, internet access and privacy that is total and most of all – no interfering parents. In short, they want to be emancipated.
Emancipation is defined very simply as the release of a child from the control of parents or guardians.
Related: Malaysian teens give parents advice
A house for a 15-year old
Jaden Smith, son a Hollywood megastar Will Smith, wants to have his own home for his fifteenth birthday. No PlayStation and X-Box for this teenager. He wants the complete package all neatly wrapped up in a house.
Will and his wife Jada Pinkett Smith believe this would be an ideal way for Jaden to learn to take control of his life as an emancipated minor. Making his own mistakes, being accountable for and learning from them would offer far better training than traditional methods of disciplining by parents.
Will’s own father was a very strict parent who believe that children should be seen and not heard, so perhaps it is no surprise that Will is considering an option that lies at the extreme end of his own childhood.
In an interview with The Sun newspaper, he said, “'We generally don't believe in punishment. From the time Jaden was five or six we would sit him down, and all he has to do is be able to explain why what he did was the right thing for his life.”
Emancipation laws in Malaysia
In Malaysia, the law is applied based on The Age of Majority Act 1971. Consequently, and specifically in the Susie Teoh case, the courts upheld that any child under the age of 18 must follow the parents’ choices.
Professor Shad Faruqi, Emeritus Professor at UiTM and Visiting Professor at USM, believes strongly that children are precious gifts we must protect and nurture for the future, and the most valuable resource we have.
He talks about children is some countries actually suing their parents for emancipation, and sometimes winning their case for emancipation.
In the end though, he says that “The finest gift we, the adults, can bequeath to posterity is to ensure a safe, healthy, happy, educated and able generation of future youths.”
What teenagers want
A survey conducted by The Institute of Advanced Parentology in Malaysia found that teenagers have a set of common perceptions about what they envision to be freedom.
Issues that revolve around “Stop treating me like a child”, “Stop restricting me from doing what I like,” and “Stop judging my friends and choosing them for me” appeared to be the biggest cause for conflicts.
It is not really surprising, is it?
These are statements that have been with us from time immemorial, and is almost part of growing up. It is an expression that stems from maturity and thinking as an independent person.
Emancipation though, looks like it will be a long time coming for Malaysian teenagers.