My friend and colleague Laura Olson came and spoke to my Child Development class on Monday.  Within her two hour (very informative and fun) lecture, was this gem:

Birth to seven years old: Parents make the decisions.

Seven to fourteen years old: Parents listen to the child, then make the decision.

Fourteen years old through high school: Parents and teenagers make decisions together, as increasingly more of the final decision power is given to the teenager.

And I’ll make this part explicit, although Laura did not include it: By the time a teenager graduates from high school, she should be living her own life as if she were in a dorm or in an apartment.  Because it’s good practice, that’s why.

I like Laura’s rubric a lot.  It’s short, it’s sweet, and it’s absolutely dead-on.  With, of course, the general caveat that any generalized, age-related advice needs to be tweaked for certain children/teenagers and certain situations.  But those exceptions should be relatively few and far between.