well comments to my previous post here certainly didn't go in a direction i intended or anticipated! i've been thinking about my response, and decided it would be too long for a comment so i've turned it into a blog post.
the common theme amongst commenters is their own autonomy at around 17 or 18, and the way they were brought up to be independent. maybe i'm reading too much in to it, but some of the comments imply that kids who aren't brought up this way aren't brought up well.
which brings to mind a piece of paper i got from a nz university, giving me tips about how to treat my child at university. all of the page and a half of bullet points boiled down to were "leave them alone". i didn't mind the stuff about the privacy act and not giving out information - that's the law & if i don't have a good enough relationship with my child to get the information i need, that's my own problem.
but the gratuitous advice about how i should treat or relate to my kid? not cool. for a start, it assumes a particular style of parenting that not everyone subscribes to. nor should they have to subscribe to it. all sorts of parenting styles can turn out wonderfully well-adjusted kids who do well in life.
i've seen parents who continue feed their kids (ie sit with them at the dinner table and put food in their mouths) up to age 7 or 8. said kids have grown up to be lovely people. one mother i know used to cook food for her kids when they were 2nd year students - she would cook enough for the whole week on sunday, pack it up into daily parcels and send it up for them. they never had to cook at all. again, said kids are now working as doctors, and really nice, sensitive and caring people that i'm proud to know. for other kids, that kind of care won't work and they'll turn into spoilt brats. the "leave them alone" method will suit them a lot better.
so basically, i don't take kindly to people (in institutions or at a personal level) giving me parenting advice with the underlying assumption that they know better than me how i should raise my child. and i was thinking that if anyone at said university dared to make any such comments to my face when i was there, my response would be this very simple one: "how about i don't tell you how to raise your kids, and you don't tell me how to raise mine; that way we'll both be happy". that's the politest version of f&*# off that i can think of in this context.
my view of the world is that i don't suddenly stop being a parent when my child turns 18 (or 21 or any other arbitrary). nor does she stop being my child. i know that my job as a parent is to bring her up to be a fully-functioning adult who achieves her full potential and is able to pursue her dreams. but it's up to me and her to determine how that relationship works; when and how i let go; when and how she lets go. the letting go will happen in stages, for some things it may not happen. like when i had my kids, my mum was my biggest support and i needed her to visit me every morning to look after my baby so that i could catch up on my sleep, because i had a baby that wouldn't sleep for more that one hour at a stretch. i need her still for various things, and she needs me for other things.
so if you happened to be very independent at 18 and were able to manage everything on your own with little parental support, good for you. that's an admirable thing (nope, not being snarky or sarcastic here, i really mean it). but it certainly doesn't give you the right to judge people who aren't at that level or don't want to be that way at that age. and i think that's what annoyed me most about a couple of the comments on that last post - they were just a little too judgemental for my liking.