A family built tiny houses for each of their teenage children to live in. Experts say too much independence for teens may not be the best idea.

a row of tiny houses in kentucky
The Brinks' tiny house village.Lennox Brinks
  • The Brinks family lives in a tiny-house village where its two teens had their own tiny houses.

  • Experts say teens need supervision because they aren't great at making decisions yet.

  • But another expert said the Brinks family prioritized communal time, which was key.

In an effort to live a more sustainable lifestyle, Keli and Ryan Brinks built a village of tiny houses on their land in Kentucky. Growing up, their two teens lived in their own tiny houses on the property, and the family routinely gathered in common spaces.

The oldest was 14 and the youngest was 12 when they each got their own tiny houses on the family property. Each teen had a couch, a lofted bed, and a TV.

While the Brinks family previously told Insider the setup worked for them, therapists specializing in adolescents say it's not a good idea for every teen to have that much freedom. It comes down to what's right for the family.

Adolescents and teenagers generally need supervision from their caregivers to grow into responsible adults 

The human brain is still developing until about the age of 25, Alyson Cohen, a New York therapist who specializes in teens, said — particularly, the part that encourages self-control and good decision-making.

So even the most responsible kids need the support of someone "watching over their shoulder to create a consciousness that second-guesses their behavior," Cohen told Insider.

Too much autonomy could hinder that important development process.

"That 'my parents would kill me' voice in their mind can become a big blocker of bad choices," she said. "There's a big difference when your parents are just down the hall and could walk into your room anytime."

On the other hand, kids need to practice independence to be prepared for life outside the home

While it can be frustrating for parents when kids hole up in their rooms, that solo time can be a good rehearsal for an unsupervised life.

"Teens aren't old enough to do everything on their own and leave the home, but they have their own thoughts and views, and they can begin practicing some independence by separating from their families," Jennifer Noble, a licensed psychologist and parent coach in Los Angeles, told Insider.

But Noble says there's no one 'right' approach to independence because every family is different

One way to ensure healthy development is to balance independence with regular family interactions. In the Brinks' case, Noble said it appeared independence had long been a value for the family, so the kids may have been ready to live in tiny homes as teens.

And this particular tiny-home configuration encourages routine family gatherings — an important part of the equation. The kids don't have their own kitchens, for example, so the family regularly eats meals together in a communal space. They also have a separate house on the property where they can gather for games and activities.

"You have to know your family culture and accept where your child is," Noble said. "It sounds like this family has been training their kids to be more independent from an earlier age."

It's important to be aware that for some kids, too much independence could pose harm, Noble says

She said she would discourage teens living on their own if they're kids with anxiety or special needs. Noble added that it wouldn't be a good idea if the teens had risk-taking, rebellious behaviors — they may need more direct supervision from parents.

"It really depends on the level of maturity and the connection they have to their family," Noble said.

Whether your kids live down the hall or across a field, Cohen encourages caregivers to stay closely involved in their lives until they're truly ready.

"Many parents are all too ready to give their kids independence because they need a break," she said. "But they need a lot of emotional support in order to develop into responsible adults."

Read the original article on Insider