Thirteen should be the age of adulthood

Published 7:48 am Saturday, March 24, 2018

By Bobby Tingle


Children should be adults by the time they reach their 13th birthday.

Before you barge into The Orange Leader office and look for the lunatic who wrote the previous statement, stop and think.

What if we did expect children to become, oh something novel, like an adult? What if we raised our children, not to be dependent, but independent? What if we expected our children to get a job if they wanted something more than food, clothing and shelter?

My bride and I homeschooled our children and therefore read a few books on the subject of teaching children at home. Generally, the books provided ideas and general ways to approach a subject or challenge. Maintaining order and discipline were top priority for most authors we read.

Personal responsibility was another top priority. To achieve this priority the child must be held accountable.

Failure can be a favorable outcome.

If a child does not pass first grade then give them another try. If they fail the second time then let then try again. If they fail until they are 13 then bring a desk into the classroom large enough for them and give them another go at it.

In the end, the child fails or passes on his or her effort.

I suspect if you are reading this you have failed at something, somewhere and at sometime. I suspect you learned more lessons in failure than success.

Failure is the best, possibly the only, way some children will learn.

Failing will teach a child the value of hard work and self-discipline.

The earlier we expose them to failure the better. It is the only way we can expect children to be adults by 13.

Would this rob our children of their childhood? I hope so. From my observation too many legal adults are still children. Had they been robbed of their childhood at 13. I suspect they would be far happier and productive.

The Utah Governor just signed a bill into law this week. The name of the bill is “Free Range Kids.”

Free-range chickens roam about eating whatever they want where ever they want. They do the same when laying their eggs. Though I suppose they do develop some sense of range and predictability.

Some consider free-range chickens to be homeless. Caged chickens have a home, but it limits their freedom.

Think of free-range kids as self-controlled.

In Utah, a child can go to the park or ride a bicycle to school by themselves legally. Up until the Utah Governor signed the new legislation this week children were confined to their parents’ supervision. Now they are free to roam about and explore.

Of course they may get dirty or wet.

When it rained, my daughter would ask to go outside and play. She was sensible though insisting on wearing her rubber boots to keep her feet dry. My bride and I decided she was okay as long as she dried off before coming back in. No puddles inside please.

Apparently we could have gone to jail since we didn’t go out with her.

My parents were really bad. They were in good company though. On school mornings you better watch out on Avenue D because the traffic jam, caused by bicycles carrying my classmates to school was horrible.

I would have rather died, in the fourth grade, than have my mom take me to school when I was perfectly capable of riding my bicycle.

If our parenting goal were to have our children controlling their passions by the age of 13 we would have far less immature adults.

No more participation ribbons. No more fourth place teams making the playoffs.


Bobby Tingle is publisher of The Orange Leader. You can reach him at