Kerry Hardy, a Texas native who is raising two kids in Paris, gives her kids more freedom than is usually accepted in the U.S. Hardy's first son started riding the Metro at just 11 years old -- something many parents in large American cities wouldn't dream of.
Hardy explained in a HuffPost Live conversation Tuesday that, in France, it's customary for kids as young as 7 to walk alone to school or ride public transportation without parental supervision. Much of that responsibility falls on an older sibling, which has a twofold effect: it creates more independence earlier on, and builds a special relationship between said siblings.
"I often sent my son to pick up his younger sister when she was in the third grade and he was in sixth grade," Hardy told host Nancy Redd. "It was completely normal. That was his responsibility. ... That also creates a bond between the children outside the adult world. I think that's important, too."
That does not mean that French parents let their children run wild. Hardy said that there is a very tangible line between freedom and recklessness that is a custom among the French.
"We're very conscious here that children must be well-behaved at the table. No elbows. They have to be quiet and well-behaved at the table, in social situations with adults around... There's a difference between what's expected of them and how they behave in mixed company and the freedom and responsibility you give them to be in the park and kind of do their own thing."