once upon a time, there was a teenager who went to school. there were, of course, lots of other teenagers there too, as schools tend to contain many same-aged humans. :)
the girl was at the beginning stages of exploring her identity as a maturing person, and, naturally, so were the other kids at the school. her parents were aware of this natural process, and trusted her to explore within reasonable boundaries, to come to them for advice when needed, and to learn and grow from her experiences.
the other teens' parents were very afraid. they felt it necessary to sneak their kids' cell phones to read their text messages, to punish them with grounding for small infractions, and to attempt to control nearly every aspect of their lives, including with whom they were allowed to be friends.
the parents of the other teens considered the girl to be a "bad influence" on their children, although the reality was that their own children (some of them) were doing things that were *much* more dangerous and risky, and breaking their rules, with no influence from the girl - they just had no idea because their teens had learned to sneak and share nothing with their parents.
some of the children of the suspicious parents were completely innocent, responsible and trustworthy - uninfluenced by others - led only by their inner wisdom. and yet these children had parents who seemed to trust them even LESS, invading their privacy and controlling their every move.
those "innocent" kids regularly expressed, in conversations with the girl, despondency about their lives and resentment against their parents for not trusting them, while the more "rebellious" kids simply ignored their parents' rules and did whatever they wanted to do.
the parents of the girl knew all about what these other teens were doing, though. and yet was not safe in sharing that with the other parents, who repeatedly called them up to say what a bad influence the girl was on their precious innocent children.
after a year at that school, the girl opted to leave school, and become an unschooler - taking college classes, writing a novel, and exploring the world. the kids and parents and staff at the school all told her she was making a huge mistake. they considered her a drop out and a loser. she laughed and skipped off into her full life.
fast forward 2 years - all those teens with the scared, distrustful parents who thought they could control their kids' outcomes by controlling their lives? well, they just got expelled from the school for breaking in in the middle of the night, and smoking pot and drinking alcohol there. the girl who was trusted to discover her own values and learn from her own mistakes? the one who had never been grounded a day in her life, and who everyone thought would amount to nothing? she's written a 93,000 word novel and is partway through another novel, is working and saving money for a trip to South America, doesn't drink, smoke, or do drugs, and loves her life. oh and she even asks her parents' advice and guidance about decisions in her life, and chooses to spend time with her family.
that doesn't come from control. that comes from relationship.
(If you're on facebook, you might be able to see the original, with comments, here.)