Would you let a 14-year-old travel to a local derby game?
Dylan is a huge football supporter and he enjoys following his teams. Aston Villa are his big league club and he has been and watched them many times over the years. He attends with his dad, it is their time together. Since last year he has often gone to watch his local team Cheltenham with friends.
It is much cheaper for him to go with friends and it saves Lee spending his Saturday afternoons watching a game that he isn’t too fussed with.
We tend to drop him off and in he goes with friends. They then catch the bus home together. This has been a new development and it is great to see him growing in independence. I’ve always been quite good at letting my children have freedom. Dyl was just 11 when I wrote about free range parenting. I was happy to let him disappear for four or five hours to play with friends. I am not always chasing him via text to see what he is doing. I believe that children can lead us to their capabilities and we have to give them independence in steps to allow them to cross from childhood to adulthood.
Without guiding them to take on more independence we are not equipping them with the skills they need to develop throughout their teen years. It is easy to get into helicopter parenting. I don’t want this I don’t think it helps teens to mature and learn to manage themselves.
Yet Dyl caught us by surprise two weeks ago when he asked if he can go to Swindon to watch the local derby game. This is a good hour away from home and he hasn’t been to the stadium before. It would be easy to say ‘yes dad will take you’ but that is not what he wanted. He has been to away games so he knows the drill. He knows how football stadiums operate. He is now used to catching a bus from Gloucester to Cheltenham.
He wants to travel with his friend on the supporters bus, to an area he doesn’t know, to a game that has tensions at times, like local derby games often do.
My heart and head was / is torn. But we have said yes. He has his golden ticket and there will be some conditions attached. I will expect a text when he gets into the ground and again once he is back on the supporters bus heading home.
I am a little apprehensive, not because of Dylan but because of others and the things that he cannot control. But we have to let them go, we have to let them make choices and by doing this I hope I am equipping him with the tools he needs to head into adulthood as a responsible young man.
I’d love to hear other opinions- Would you let a 14-year-old travel to a local derby game? Or what age did you first do things like this? let me know in the comments.