Parents should most definitely give a curfew to their children, starting when they are young and through their teen years. Part of a parent’s responsibility in raising a child into a stable adult is to give them clear and definite boundaries. If you begin to set this consistent structure while your child is young, it will help formulate positive common sense reasoning, and will help the child understand why those boundaries are in place even when they hit the teen years.
Of course, the curfew should be age appropriate and incorporate safety at all times. In other words, your teen who is 13 will not be roaming the streets till midnight, but he or she may attend a movie on the weekend with a group of friend, the movie lets out at 9:00 p.m. and their must be a parent present to bring them home. Whereas, your teen of 16 might go to a teen club on a Saturday night with a group of friend, and a responsible parent drives them home by 11:00 p.m. Then, if you happen to be the parent of an 18 year old, you may allow for more independence but still give a curfew of maybe 1:00 a.m.
By setting clear curfews for your teens, you will help them learn to discipline themselves. Sure, they may not always like the time you choose, especially if they happen to have a friend who has parents that do not give a curfew; but, you are not those other parents, and you understand the importance and safety that is encouraged by setting clear boundaries for your child to follow.
When and if you are met with your teen fighting against your curfew wishes, you need to sit them down and tell them about the reality of the world we live in, and the truth is bad things do happen to good kid. Of course, you will want your teen to experience and have independence to make decisions for themselves, but there are positive and structured ways you can allow them to be independent and have more freedoms, while teaching them to respect a curfew.
On school night, you will want your teen to be in earlier, and even before they go out there other responsibilities should be completed such as chores, homework, studying, and projects. On weekends and vacations, you might extend the curfew to a later time. But despite the time you arrive at for an appropriate curfew, you will always want to make sure there are safety measures in place:
Know what the evening activities will include.
Know where your teen will be.
Know who will be with your teen.
Make sure there is a responsible parent chaperoning at the other home where your child may be hanging out at.
Make sure you are the responsible parent or there is another responsible parent driving your teen to and from an activity (movie, skating, teen disco, party, school function).
Make sure to have the home phone numbers and cell phone numbers of all your teen’s friends, especially the ones they will be out with.
Make sure your teen knows that if their plans or location will change during the course of the evening, they are to call you before they make that location change.
Make sure your teen knows they should call you if they will be late, and this call should not be made 5 minutes before they will be late, but at least an hour prior. They may be surprised when they show you that type of respect and consideration, and you don’t become that monster parent who objects, but instead they might just get that extra hour extended to their curfew.
It is tough being the parent to a teen today. We want to protect them from the rough and sometimes harsh world that is out there, yet at the same time we realize we have to help mold them into adults that can make quality and appropriate decisions. Sometimes in order to get them there, we have to let go a little and even allow them to make mistakes. However, if we set up an appropriate curfew with safety measures and boundaries in place early on, they will be less likely to run all over you. They will be groomed to respect your decision, and use their common sense to make decisions.