What happens when parents loosen up a bit? Look to the Dutch

Last fall, I picked up my 11-year-old daughter from her first middle school dance. It was at a nightclub in Amsterdam. As I stood outside waiting, streams of British bachelorettes stumbled down the alley around me. This was at 11:30 p.m. On a Wednesday. “Seriously, Mom,” Sophie said as we biked home, “you didn’t have to come get me.”

In Holland, the start of middelbareschool marks the beginning of adolescence. Kids are in sixth grade, and they want their independence. Most get mobile phones and debit cards to manage their own schedules and pocket money. They graduate to bigger bikes.

Armed with these tools of Dutch teenagerhood, Sophie zips across Amsterdam. Her dance class is a 20-minute bike ride away, through throngs of tourists and thickets of tram tracks. Come winter, it’s pitch dark by 5. When it’s warm, she and her friends scour the city to find a good jumping bridge. They change into bikinis, then leap — sometimes 30 feet — into the cool, inky waters of the canal beneath.Read the entire article on The Boston Globe