Teenager ‘divorces’ strict parents


‘‘It seems to me the more dangerous the world gets, the more children want to be out in that world,’’ says the Cape Town father of a teenage girl who won a court order freeing her from her parents’ rigid control.

In court papers the 16-year-old said her super-strict father refused to let her sleep over with friends, have boyfriends and make unsupervised phone calls. But her father says he does so because he loves his children (he has two older daughters too) and is protective because he and his wife are responsible for them. (Because of the girl’s age the family may not be identified.)

‘‘I’m willing to discuss and negotiate issues, rules. But because of the dangerous world we live I’m prompted to be more cautious,’’ the father says.

The girl applied to be legally emancipated from her family last December and the High Court granted her semi-independence.

It’s the first ruling of its kind in South Africa allowing a teenager some freedom from her parents because she feels they’re too rigid.

The teen now stays with a schoolfriend and the friend’s mother elsewhere in Cape Town. Her parents must still support her financially.

In terms of the court order she and her parents must meet once a week and they may phone her twice a week. She’s receiving psychological treatment and the family is receiving family therapy.

‘‘I never thought it would be possible for a court to take away my daughter,’’ the father says. ‘‘What hurts most isn’t what she has done. What hurts most is simply that she’s not here.’’

He says his daughter was a sweet, happy child and they were very close but after reaching her teens she wanted more freedom than he and his wife were willing to allow.

One of his rules is no boyfriends until the age of 18. ‘‘I would like my daughters to be emotionally strong before they enter into a relationship and I feel 16 is too young.’’

Read the full article in the YOU of 8 July 2010

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