Forget the who and why – it’s the when

Clive Smith says he would not like to arm wrestle athlete Caster Semenya 		Picture: Martin Rickett/PA Wire

CLIVE SMITH: English pigs? Don’t bite the hand that feeds you

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I’m not sure if I’m starting a mid-life crisis, but I’ve had couple of parental moments this week that have brought a little tear to my eye.

Talking with family members who have older children, it’s become clear that in the not too distant future, kids will want to slowly start doing their own thing.

I want my children to be independent, but at the same time I don’t…

At the moment my five-year-old daughter, Molly, believes everything I tell her.

At the weekend she asked how strong I was and I told her I once lifted up the world.

She didn’t bat an eyelid and went away happy that her slightly doddery-looking dad is actually the strongest man in the world.

It’s a nice feeling being adored by your children, and the fact that they depend on you and want to spend time with you because you’re funny and a little bit cool, gives you a warm fuzzy feeling inside.

But, already there are little signs starting to appear that she wants to start doing her own thing.

The part I’m struggling with is this: when is it the right time to start allowing children to start making basic choices?

I’ve been looking on Amazon for a manual that gives simple time-frame instructions i.e. a child can have a front door key at 11, a child can walk itself home from school at nine etc. But this guide doesn’t exist.

When? That’s the big question these days. For example: ‘When can I have a mobile phone dad?’

I got my first mobile phone when I was 19. Admittedly, technology has moved on slightly and people aren’t walking around with contorted spines because of the weight of the battery any more.

Some youngsters at Molly’s school already have phones. I think they may be slightly older – but nonetheless, they’re at the school gate texting and calling their friends. Their agility around a smartphone would put most of us old biddies to shame.

And when is the right time to let your child root through the cupboards and eat what they want?

Molly has just started walking in, opening doors and gormlessly staring at the fare on offer. Will she go for a packet of Hula Hoops or a fresh crisp apple, let me guess?

Whilst we’re working hard to educate her on which foods are good and bad and the principle of moderation, any five-year-old worth their salt is always going to go for the alluringly wrapped treat.

I’ve no doubt there are tougher questions ahead – but ‘When can I have a boyfriend?’ is a question I’m prepared for.

Like any caring, reasonable and consenting father, I think 36 is reasonable.