The Freedoms List

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When we discussed the idea of giving our children “Freedoms” for each birthday, we brainstormed a master list to choose from.

This is important for 2 main reasons:

1.  Not all freedoms are automatically given at a certain age, with a few exceptions at ages 10, 16, and 18.  At 10, all of our kids will get the “Freedom of Things”.  At 16, they will get the freedom of the car.  At 18, they will all get freedom of themselves.  Beyond that, each freedom given is based on the individual child and areas of responsibility that we observe in their lives.

2.  We purposefully hold off on things that we might not really care about.  This INTENTIONALLY builds the importance of the freedoms.  For example, I could really care less about my kids choosing their hair style or even dying their hair, but I will purposefully hold off on allowing them to dye it or get a “dramatic cut” until they earn the freedom.  This makes it more special when you do earn it!

A list of freedoms to give your child at each birthday.

That being said, the following is my list of freedoms in no particular order:

1. Freedom of a phone.  It would probably be their very own “dumb phone”.  I don’t think we would purchase a smart phone for a child as we aren’t eager to hand over internet access, but I know things change over time, so I will never say “never” on that.   I do consider this one for 12-14 years old.  My daughter is pretty responsible now and carries a purse quite often, so I have thought about the phone as an option.  Gift idea:  uh….the phone….and maybe paying for the service for a certain amount of time.

2.  Freedom of your bedroom.  Decorate how you want.  Hang what you want.  Clean it when you want. That last one is KEY here.  No more telling them to clean their room.  That means that this particular freedom is going to be hard to earn for some kids.  In fact, the pastor’s wife who shared this with me said one of her children never earned this while living in their home.  Tough with my boys who share a room….hmmmm….  Gift idea:  Loft bed.  Ikea gift card.  Movie poster.  Bedroom Makeover.

3.  Freedom of your hair.  Chop it.  Shave it.  Dye it.  Whateva’.  I see this one around 13-16 years old.  Depending on the boy, this might be a big deal to them too as they could grow it long, which they won’t be allowed to do under my control.  Gift idea:  trip to the salon or funky hair dye.

4.  Freedom of your music.  Listen to what you want.  UGH.  Since I have a collection of rap music from my high school days, I am sure I am in for it with this one.  Yes, I can still sing some Snoop Dogg.  Gift idea:  iPod.  iTunes gift card.  Wireless speakers.  Headphones.

We are about to celebrate a certain 12 year old in this house who loves music and music video making. We found highly rated wireless headphones for kids, a wireless waterproof speaker with a suction cup for the shower or anywhere, and a new iPod case:


5.  Freedom of your clothing.  Crop tops.  Short skirt.  Crazy colors.  Oh my.  This one opens so many doors.  I consider this between 14-18.  Gift idea:  favorite clothing store shopping spree.  Maybe a pair of shoes or a coat they are dying to have.

6.  Freedom of make-up.  The freedom to wear as much as you want.  Grab that blue eye shadow and have at it, kid!  Gift idea:  makeover with some lessons on how NOT to overuse that blue!  Make up kit.

7.  Freedom of the internet.  Not sure if and when we will do this.  It is something we debate as we want our kids to learn what is “out there” and to become responsible in this area of internet searching, use and time limits.  We recognize that they will take over this area of their lives at some point, so we want time for mistakes at home.  I can’t imagine we would do this before 17.  Once they earned this, then they could have a “screen” in their bedroom for the first time and we would remove “screen time” restrictions. Gift idea:  tablet or laptop.

8.  Freedom of money.  Spend it how you would like.  Of course, my child wouldn’t be allowed to buy anything that is against our family rules.  But if you typically have a tithing or saving percentage that you enforce, this would be the time to let it go.  Gift idea:  Cash!  (My older daughters have both earned this and we made their gift a whooping $100 in cash)

9.  Freedom of accessories.  Scarves.  Shoes.  Jewelry.  Time to have some fun and accessorize!  Gift idea:  Jewelry.  Gift card to store with accessories.  New shoes.

10.  Freedom of things.  All children get this to kick off the “freedom” birthdays at age 10.  This is the first time that my kids get the freedom to own an expensive personal object and to have the responsibility of caring for it.  Gift idea:  We bought our daughter a digital camera.  Tablet.  Video Camera.  Basically whatever fits your child.

11.  Freedom of the car.  Access to drive the car.  AND to own one.  (not saying mom and dad have to purchase that)  Gift idea:  Car keys on a cute (or manly) keychain.  Maybe a car if you have the funds!

12.  Freedom of the house.  Time to be allowed to stay home alone.  We missed out on this one as MD law allowed 8 year olds to stay home alone, so we started this one ages ago.  But if you held off on this one, it is a great idea from a 10-13 year old!  Gift idea:  Keys to the house.  A night alone with a bag of treats and a rental movie.

13.  Freedom of your bedtime.  This does not mean you are free to choose when you have to be in your room, but you are free to choose when you would like to turn off your light and go to sleep.  Maybe it includes a later “time to go up to your room” as well.  Gift ideas:  book light.  alarm clock.  a stack of late night books.  (clearly, I am at a loss on this one)

14.  Freedom of food.  This one walks a bit of a tightrope between respect for the home you live in (as in, eating the dinner you were made) and allowing the freedom of food.  Overall, this would mean that you don’t need permission to grab some food.  No one will watch over your shoulder as you pack your lunch.  You could eat what you wanted….maybe even drink soda….that you can buy yourself since Mommy doesn’t.  (*wink)  In our house, I would probably see this as permission to make your own breakfast and lunch choices without comment/input from me.  They could also choose their own snacks when they were hungry.  I see this one for older kids who are pretty responsible about eating fairly healthy.  Maybe ages 13+  Gift idea:  case of soda.  ice cream.  bag of chips.  and of course, a ton of fruit!  (My BRAND NEW teenager received this today at 13 years old and was thrilled!!!  Her gift was a date to the Melting Pot, brownie mixes, and her favorite trail mix)

15.  Freedom of media (not internet).  Pick your books.  TV shows.  Movies.  Gift idea:  Movie passes.  Kindle gift card.

16.  Freedom of yourself.  This is the “given” at 18.  You are now your own adult and a “roommate” in our home.  Please respect us as roommates and we will do the same. Gift ideas:  their share of the electric bill?  (wink)

What freedoms would you add to the list?


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8 thoughts on “The Freedoms List”

  1. Audrey Butters

    I’ve heard of this idea before and I love your list of specific freedoms and what gifts might accompany them! Thank you for sharing this awesome idea and how to execute it!

  2. Hey Mary it’s Liz from IG and Periscope(LizDavis_High5) I was so captivated by your scope yesterday. I actually was quite shocked at how many questions i kept asking…usually I hate when people do that on a scope. I heard your default answer of “you have yo know your kids..” over and over. I really thought about this later and it dawned on me why this was so hard for me to grasp as I can be kinda liberal at times (we are unschoolers after all). It’s because my kids have a lot of emotional/mental health special needs. Something that they may be responsible and capable and “ready” for at say 10….they may not be by 10.5. That’s kinda how it rolls in my house. The behavior is so erratic that there would be no way to say give the “freedom of food” and say they have been choosing wisely for years and then to be given that freedom would totally change the perspective for the child on this. Also the car at 16. That seemed really young. This isn’t criticizing just a thought in my head. I think this scope probably just hit a nerve in myself that AGAIN my kids are not able to say participate in things that say “typical” kids do. Thats the conclusion I came to anyhow. Everything in our home is on a minute by minute basis. Always readjusting according to how a child is doing. I think that’s why I couldn’t imagine handing over a lot of these things. I could see younger siblings(with special needs) trying to say listen to the music or watch the show……there would be a lot of jealousy too i think…obviously it’s not for us, but thank you for sharing this very unique was of celebrating your children:)


      I think that is exactly it. You know your family’s rhythm and what will work or not work. This is just one of a million great parenting ideas, so there are plenty out there that will work in your situation. I am so sorry it hit a nerve for your situation. I don’t know the specifics, but I understand. We deal with mental health/anxiety issues in this house and I know what it requires from me at times. (I don’t blog or scope that much as it isn’t really my story to share. it is personal for a kid) But I talk more in person about that when asked. You certainly don’t want to throw off your balance in your family!

      I am curious….what age are kids allowed to drive in your state? Is it not 16?

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