The Ins and Outs of Curfews


I hope you had a wonderful long weekend. Whether you were celebrating at your church, watching kids hunt for Easter eggs, at a Vaisakhi parade or opening the family cottage it does seem to be the weekend the welcomes Spring (whether the weather cooperates or not!).

Today I thought we’d take a look at your teen’s social life. Or more specifically what time it ends. How do you set curfews? Parents of teens want to know. It can be a tricky situation and lead to arguments that just aren’t necessary. With good planning and communication curfews can become a non-issue.

The Ins and Outs of Curfews

Midnight comes and goes. It’s now 12:15 and you don’t know whether to be worried or angry. Your daughter Melanie is fifteen, it’s Saturday night and her curfew is midnight. She knows that, so where is she? You try to call her cell phone but no luck; it’s not turned on.

Ten minutes later she arrives and you pounce. You’re yelling at her before she shuts to door. “Don’t you know how worried I was? I was just about to phone the hospitals. How can you do this to me?” Then you drop the bomb. “That does it young lady, you’re grounded for the rest of the month!”

Throughout this harangue, Melanie keeps trying to interrupt. “But Mom, just listen. Mom let me explain.” Instead of listening you send her off to bed.

The next morning you get up and there on the front page of the newspaper is a major story about a lengthy bridge closure last night. The bridge shut down at 11:30 pm so the traffic on the alternate bridge was horrible. Maybe you should have listened.

Let’s try another scenario. Melanie comes in at 12:25pm and you simply say hi. She immediately tells you about the bridge and how they were heading home when they heard the news on the radio and had to change direction to come across the second bridge, which was extremely crowded. She tried to call but the battery on her cell phone had died.

Curfews can cause more problems than they solve. It’s an arbitrary time which doesn’t take the teen’s situation into account. Due to bus schedules or movie length the curfew just may not work. If the teen can’t discuss the plans with their parents they will soon simply stop talking about anything.

Curfews also become a time you need to stay out until. Aaron, 16, goes out with his friend for a pizza on Friday night. After they eat they decide to go to a movie. Aaron is tired, knows he needs to study on the weekend for a big exam on Monday and would just like to head home. But he knows that if he goes home early his parents will immediately carry on about how nice it is when he comes home early and maybe he doesn’t need such a late curfew. He goes to the movie and finds it hard to get to his studying on Saturday.

What do you do? You can’t just let them come and go as they please, can you? You do need to know where they are, when to expect them home and whom they are with.

Ask them. What are their plans and when do they expect to be home? A movie downtown has a different time-line than a house party down the block. Needing to study or go to work Saturday morning means an earlier Friday evening than when a sleep-in is on the agenda.

Don’t make it a power struggle. Working with your teens to set a curfew according to the planned activities is respectful and opens the lines of communication. Of course, if they say they are simply going the hang around the park until 5 am you can let them know that isn’t in the cards.

How do you handle the inevitable comment, “Look I’ll be in when I get there, don’t you trust me?” Tell them it’s not about trust but about expectations and safety. I used to tell my kids that it was all about me. Parents have a worry gene that kicks in the minute a child is born. I just needed to know when to expect them so I could know when to start worrying. They got that. As a matter of fact, one evening my husband and I were quite a bit later than expected and when we came through he door were confronted by our angry teens saying “Where were you? We were worried. Shouldn’t you have phoned if you were going to be late?” They had a good point.

Bring Kathy to your Community

Kathy is always happy to come and speak in your community, at you event or as a workplace wellness presentation. On her website you can find more information on her material.

My presentations will share a basic value that I call

P.U.R.E. Parenting.

P — is a parenting plan

U — is unconditional love

R — is respect for your child as he is right now

E — is encouragement

Digital Books Make Parenting Information More Accessible.

There are times when digital is the perfect answer and let’s face, on a holiday having access to hundreds of books on one small tablet is ideal. I will have my kindle with me on the trip.

There are lots of times when a busy parent would like to be able to simply read and my books are digital and make it easier for you to take a look.

Two of my parenting books started as print versions but the third is only digital. The first two are also now in digital format. Who’s in Charge Anyway? talks about roots. It provides a clear road map for parent to focus on the tough but rewarding job of raising children to be responsible, self-disciplined adults.

But Nobody Told Me I’d Ever Have to Leave Home talks about raising children to become capable young men and women.

And Vive la Difference talks about the uniqueness of each our children and how you parenting can reflect and individual child’s temperament.

I am told the books are down to earth and common sense as well as easy to read. If you want some basic parenting tips and information these books are a good place to start.



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