Do Children Have Too Much Freedom?

do children haveI read an essay question recently that interested me. It asked if you agreed that children these days have too much freedom.

I did not have a strong opinion on the subject but after some reasoning, I believed my conclusion to be a good one.

The idea is that freedom is intrinsically good, just like being good, and intelligent. We can’t say that being too intelligent is bad, or being too good is bad without running into some kind of contradiction.

It may be true that these traits are not always desirable by all people, but it is hard to argue that someone who is extremely good or extremely bad should be scrutinized.

Can freedom fall under the same category of intrinsic value? In other words, is freedom good only insofar as it serves a particular end or is it good independently? It would seem to me that if we think of freedom as something that derives its value externally, we would run into several problems.

Efficiency is a trait that derives its value externally because absent the financial incentive or the need to survive, efficiency can have no value. Is freedom, then, similar to efficiency in that sense, or is it more similar to being good and intelligent?

If freedom was similar to efficency, then we ought to ask what external good do we achieve from being free? And it is here that the proposition runs into problems.

Put more simply, if there was a certain button that you can press to become more intelligent, no one would ask you, “why do you want to become more intelligent?” There is no reason required, being intelligent is independently valuable.

What about efficiency? Well, here it is actually conceivable that people can question why you want to be more efficient. You would need to answer their question by pointing to something that you may achieve by being more efficient.

Freedom in this sense is more like intelligence. You cannot ask someone why he wants to be free. Are children allowed too much freedom? Its possible that they are, but given that most activities that would harm them already do not allow their participation, then it shouldn’t be a problem to allow them to be as free as possible within that controlled realm.

Children are only given too much freedom in very few occasions where a large amount of responsibility is set upon them, but all in all, I think it’s a good thing that with time, they are being allowed to be more expressive, autonomous, and imaginative.


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