Answering the Curfew Question

One of the biggest battles parents raising teenagers face is the debate over curfew. It usually goes something like this: You set the limit and she protests how unfair it is. If you’re lucky, the disagreement ends there. If not, an argument ensues that includes whining, yelling, tears, stomping, and the ever-popular door slamming.

Teenagers need rules and restrictions in order to develop into emotionally well adjusted adults. As a parent, regardless of your daughter’s pleas and protests, it’s imperative to set a curfew and make her stick to it. Curfews provide teens with an expectation that they be home at a certain time which helps keep them out of trouble; ensures that they get enough sleep to promote healthy physical and mental development; and helps your daughter become more considerate of others thoughts and feelings. She’ll learn that the world does not revolve around her own social schedule. She may not understand your rational now, but someday, she will thank you (or at least acknowledge that you were, maybe, kinda, sorta, right).

Before you discuss the issue of curfew with your sure-to-disagree daughter, try these tips to help ensure that the curfew talk goes smoothly. 

Setting Curfew Limits:

  • Set a general curfew.  Give your daughter a “set time” you expect her home.  You may add or subtract time from her curfew in the case of special circumstances like Prom or a special girls night out with her friends. You should never allow your teen to walk out of the door and blurt out a time she’ll be home. It’s up to you to set the limit and up to her to obey it.
  • Don’t fall for the tricks. Teens will try to get away with anything they can, it’s in their genes, so beware the of the phone call 45 minutes before your daughter’s scheduled to be home that asks “Can I spend the night at my girlfriends house?” Red flags should be flying. Typically when teens call in for a curfew extension or to “spend the night” at a friend’s, they have a hidden agenda. If your daughter wants to spend the night with her girlfriend, then those plans should be made before she goes out for the evening.
  • Give Consequences. If your daughter breaks her curfew, then she’s broken your rule. You must be prepared to give her consequences for her actions. It’s a good idea to discuss those consequences with her before she goes out for the evening so there is no “misunderstanding” about what her punishment will be. Failing to give a consequence will send the message to your teenager that “What I say is not important.” And for most parents, once you give-in to your teen’s demands, her behavior will worsen over time.
  • Get used to being compared to “The Joneses.” If you have a teenage daughter, then you already know that the “grass is always greener” when it comes to what her friends are allowed to do. She’ll feed you the line that everyone else is allowed to hang out until 1:00am. Don’t buy it. What separates being a mediocre parent from being a great one involves love, caring, and limits. One day, she’ll understand your point-of-view. Until then, prepare to take a back seat to the Joneses.
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