What happens if your parents raise you without rules? originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
Answer by Camila S. Espinoza, Certified Midwife:
I was never grounded. Never reprimanded or sermoned. I had no curfew, and was given no strict rules to follow beyond the ones that are common ground for healthy cohabitation.
It sounds a little as if my parents didn't give a damn about me, but trust me, that couldn't be further from the truth. They have been (and continue to be) kind, loving and caring parents that have worked their asses off to give me more than I've ever needed.
But this always made me curious, especially because my parents used parenting strategies for my sister and I (the perfect polar opposites. My weaknesses are her strengths and vice versa) that looked so different at a first glance, but were equally permissive and demanding in completely different areas when analyzed carefully.
So I had older friends that I would go out with during weekends, and no curfew to stick to. When I wanted to get an industrial piercing in my ear, they actually drove me to the piercing parlor. When I was 16 and I told them I wanted to spend my summer studying English in England, they actually sat with me, listened, and took money from their savings to pay for the whole thing, even though I'd never travelled alone.
So one day I asked them about it. My dad said, "You never gave us a reason to use a different type of parenting strategy," while my mom said, "We respected your space, but were ready to step in if necessary. It was never necessary."
Don't get me wrong, I was far from being an easy child, but I wasn't rebellious or reckless. I had self-imposed boundaries, I was a good student, I was responsible and fully aware of my limitations. I was realistic, and I never dismissed their concerns. I always included them in any decision-making process, was open to answer their questions, and offered reassurance even before they asked for it.
I was a teenager with no curfew because my friends and I were members of an independent theatre company, and my rehearsals would end at 3 AM on Fridays and Saturdays, and we would all go grab something to eat before I was driven home safely. When I was 16, I didn't just tell my parents that those friends that kept me out of the house until 4 AM on weekends were well into their 20's, I actually dragged them backstage and introduced them to each one as soon as I had the chance, and even planned a meeting in my house and invited them to spend some quality time with us so they could see firsthand that my friends were trustworthy. When I wanted to get a piercing, I did my research, found a place that was certified, studied about the proper way to care for it, and then sat them down, presented the information, and asked for permission. When I found out about an opportunity to spend 4 months in England, I actually prepared a PowerPoint presentation where I included everything, from budgets to health insurance, spending money, and even a lists of pros and cons.
We're all individuals, and this type of parenting was the one that worked for this particular daughter. My parents acknowledged that and acted accordingly, while, on the other end, I recognized their efforts and behaved appropriately.
And how did I turn out? Well, I'm okay, if I must say so myself (my parents are a bit more hyperbolic and vocal when asked about it. They are very proud of me). I'm a midwife, I graduated at the top of my class. I no longer have piercings (I still love them though), I speak two languages (which was in the list of "goals" on my PowerPoint presentation), I'm very independent and extremely organized (a little side effect of having to manage crazy schedules that combined school, rehearsals, and opening nights). I never had major issues adjusting to the growing level of freedom that comes with living alone during my time in the University, or the new set of responsibilities and demands that came from a full-time job.
Some children need more rules than others. Some children need more space than others. Each child has their own set of strengths and weaknesses. My strengths were reinforced by a certain level of freedom, and my weaknesses didn't interfere with my parents' decisions to provide it.
You may or may not agree with them, or me. But it worked for us.