Freedom at home, freedom in life. How to take care of it every day?

Family time
How important is freedom in our lives? (Fuu J/
How important is freedom in our lives? (Fuu J/

For a child, the pursuit of freedom is often the pursuit of autonomy and the possibility of self-determination. It extends their decision-making and independence zone.  Freedom also involves responsibility, which is worth making children aware of. All decisions and actions have consequences. Trusting a child, talking about their needs and desires, including the need for autonomy, is the foundation of a good relationship. 

Setting boundaries

We should take children seriously. Remember their duties, but also their rights. For example, intimacy, setting their own boundaries, having and expressing their own opinion. Above all, let’s respect their right to autonomy and individuality. The right to freedom! The sense of freedom we can give a child at home, which they can develop in the family, will pay off both now and in the future. How? In the form of an independent, autonomous person who will grow, look for their own ways and build strong and active relationships.  

Research shows that giving teenagers a significant amount of autonomy at the beginning of adolescence, not only improves their well-being and the quality of their relationship with their parents, but also influences the development of important competences necessary in adult life. It builds good self-esteem in children, increases their sense of responsibility and influence on the world as well as empathy and sensitises them to their own and others’ needs and emotions. 

A world of total freedom 

What would that mean? Together with your child, draw a world where you can do anything you want without any restrictions. Talk to your child about the pros and cons of such a world. Talk to them about “total freedom”. What do we feel like doing? Why do we want to do it? Why can’t we do it? What would the consequences be if we did?  

Freedom at home

Talking about freedom may not be easy. Each of us may understand it differently and need something different at a given moment. We live under one roof, so let’s also seek agreement on rules that apply to both children and adults. The following exercise can be an excuse to talk about needs.  

Together with your children, write on a piece of paper:

- three things children can do at home,  

- three things they can’t do,  

- three things they can do after asking their parents’ permission, 

- three things they wish they could do. 

Justify your choice by discussing what makes your child want to do something like this and why sometimes, they can’t always do what they want. You can expand this list as long as it’s not just about prohibitions and obligations. If what the child is asking for is difficult for you to accept, talk about the conditions that must be met for them to be allowed to do it. 

Now it’s time for the parents: 

- three things a parent can do at home,  

- three things they can’t do,  

- three things they can do after consultation with other household members, 

- three things they wish they could do. 

As in the case of children, justify your choice and discuss your needs. You may have to negotiate with the children to gain, for example, time alone with a book in the evening. Good luck! 

A sense of freedom 

The age of 10-15 is a period of physical, psychological and social changes. It’s a very difficult time not only for children (adolescents), but also for their parents, who have to face the growing need for independence of their children. This is well illustrated by the metaphor where adults are symbolised as the swimming pool and the water symbolic of freedom. Children want to swim away from the edge of the pool (parents) and further into the water (freedom). Parents and other important adults are stable walls which children can reach at any time, catch their breath and then come back into the pool again to train. The walls must be stable to withstand all of the teenager's departures and returns. It’s up to adults to create a safe space by setting reasonable boundaries and consistently informing them when rules have been violated. Adults can use words of support and encouragement to help their children become independent. 

When do you feel free? 

Perhaps the current situation, when additional restrictions are being imposed on all of us, is a good time to raise the subject of freedom and the responsibility associated with it with your children? What makes us feel free? When do we feel free? What are your ways of experiencing freedom? Offer the household members to create a fan of freedom, on which everyone will determine how free they feel in a given aspect. Together, think about what other factors influence your sense of freedom. You can look for inspiration in films and materials entitled “Let’s create the fan of freedom together”.

Who’s guarding the children’s rights?  

Freedom is guaranteed by law. Children’s rights are provided for in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. If you’ve already spoken to the children about their rights, it would be good to know who’s guarding them. We encourage you to search together for information about institutions and organisations that do this. Together you will be able to find some interesting sites? Discuss with your children which organisations they find particularly interesting or perhaps even want to get involved with.


All source materials are prepared by the team of Kulczyk Foundation’s Education Department in cooperation with teachers and experts – pedagogists, psychologists and cultural experts – and verified by an experienced family therapist Kamila Becker. Kinga Kuszak, PhD, Professor of Adam Mickiewicz University, Faculty of Educational Studies, provides content-related supervision over Kulczyk Foundation’s educational materials. All materials are covered by the content patronage of the Faculty of Educational Studies of Adam Mickiewicz University.

The article was published on 29.05.2020 on the website of Instytut Dobrego Życia (Good Life Institute)

Authors: Marta Tomaszewska (Kulczyk Foundation) and Anna Woźniak (Instytut Dobrego Życia)