Should Teens be given a Curfew by Parents – Yes

One of the most hated of all words in my household was the “curfew”; interpreted by my teenage daughter as a way of me controlling her independence. Little did she know that it was my way of saying I cared. The mandatory curfews her and I fought over on a weekly basis were inevitable: she believed her age spoke maturity; I believed she needed additional protection. Neither one of us was willing to see eye to eye, and only one of us would win the argument.

I never budged unless the circumstances were truly warranted.

What teens and many parents don’t understand is that curfews are more then just a household rule; they are a safety net put in place for kids that quite often need the added protection. Do parents actually think that their teens would just “show up” at night at a reasonable time if no rule was put in place? I know mine wouldn’t; and I had four kids, all teens, living under my roof. However, the age gap between parents and teens makes our kids feel that a curfew is just another tool for us to use to show our parental power instead of being seen as a way in which we show we care about them. In fact, I solidified that each and every time I spoke of curfew times by adding, “If I didn’t care about you, I’d let you do whatever you wanted”. Although meant with the highest sincerity, my kids still didn’t understand or care to hear my explanations. In fact, I was often challenged by being told that other kids didn’t have rules.

Well then, maybe other parents didn’t care as much as I did. It’s much easier to just say “ok” then actively parent, but I had four lives to hold on to, and I wasn’t going to live with regret because I couldn’t say no.

Curfews aren’t just rules; they are a form of teaching responsibility. Does allowing a teenager, (who thinks they know everything), to stay out past midnight on a school night a good way of helping them succeed in their studies during the day? Any teen will tell you they can handle it, but we as parents know it’s impossible to learn properly when you’ve been up and out half the night. If we don’t step in and force them to be a responsible student, will they be a responsible worker at a job? Patterns have a habit of following us; if kids believe they can function at school on five hours of sleep, then they’ll believe the same when it comes to work. Curfews teach responsibility; it shows a parent their child can be trusted and is mature enough to understand the importance of following household rules.

Curfews also lesson the probability of teens getting into situations that can be dangerous. Take an average Friday or Saturday night for example. After 2:00 pm, how many people under the influence of alcohol are sharing the roads with your teens? Statistics show an average of 1 out of 7 people being impaired. An inexperienced teen driver exposed to an intoxicated, incapable one. How safe does that make you feel? Are you emotionally stable enough to receive a call at 3:00 am to be told your teen’s life has been taken only because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time?

Let’s face it, what really is your child doing past midnight? What is the need for a teen to stay out until the wee hours of the morning? If it’s Prom night, it’s understandable, but an average Friday? Something isn’t right. Do parents welcome groups of teens into their home and find it acceptable that they stay up doing whatever it is they are? I often question parents that allow this. If teens aren’t at someone’s home, then where are they? What is there to do but get into trouble at 3:00 am?

Don’t ever believe that just because a curfew is set in place, that the time allotted is spent doing responsible activities. Curfews don’t mean kids are behaving as they should, it just means they’ve been given a certain amount of time to do what it is they want. Make it a point to know where your kids are at. Being nosy is part of parenting; kids will try and get away with what they can. If you’ve been seen as a trusting parent, then teens will believe they can pull a fast one on you. Let them know you’re ready and willing to follow up on there whereabouts at a moment’s notice.

“It’s not fair”, may be a phrase you get tired of hearing, but it’s definitely easier then opening your door to an officer at 4:00 am to hear “I’m sorry for your loss”.

Curfews may not stop the inevitable, but they’ll certainly lower the odds of your kids doing things they wouldn’t necessarily do without them.

My kids are in their twenties now and still living under my roof. Curfews are still in place. They are now there for a different reason; not that I’m worried about their behavior late at night; it seems my parenting skills have paid off. They’ve earned my trust and they know what is acceptable and what isn’t. They are responsible.

However, I need my sleep. Curfews are now in place for a different reason. I still wake up when they enter the door, no matter what hour it is. I have a job I need to get to in the morning. If they want to be tired at theirs, that’s one thing, but I refuse to be tired at mine because they woke me from a sleep I cannot fall back into.

They’ve learned all too well the punishment for breaking curfew is a cranky mom.

From what I’ve overheard, they’d much rather be grounded.