Thanks, Chris. I don't dispute that it's a tricky issue; it's enough to make me question the validity of the concept of rights. If we're going to keep the language of rights, I don't think there's a problem with parents setting limits on their children's behavior, so long as the children have the right to leave, which they currently don't. The exercise of rights often involves for adults the use of more expert agents--lawyers, accountants, etc.; we might simply expect that to be more the case for children. Your compromise is not a bad one, and certainly an important improvement over the status quo.
I agree that what Chris proposes sounds basically fair. I'm still uncomfortable with using an age-based ruler to measure maturity; I think a standard ought to be established independently of any age considerations. In practice I wouldn't mind the establishment of a standard that amounts to a requirement of a similar level of maturity to that of an average person in her late teens, but I feel that the history of government age-discrimination makes any standard that is formally tied to age extremely troublesome.
Yours in liberty,
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