“But, Mom! All the other kids get to stay out until one in the morning!”
Over the course of a little more than a decade, I’ve managed to raise three children to adulthood, and I’m currently helping to raise four more teenagers. We have only one for whom curfew is an issue at the moment: a gorgeous, outspoken, and very normal 17 year old daughter. In her opinion, she shouldn’t have a set curfew. In my opinion, she shouldn’t leave the house. Ever.
Okay, so never leaving the house may be a bit extreme. I know the world is full of dangers, and strangers, and when kids grow old enough to stretch their wings, it’s sometimes hard to let them fly. But Kaitlyn is a smart girl. She makes pretty good choices compared to some of her peers. She doesn’t do drugs. She doesn’t drink. She earns average to above-average grades, generally.
I find it difficult to curb her social life when she does so well in the responsibility driven areas of her life. That’s not to say that I don’t, occasionally, have to rein her in when it comes to doing her chores. If she has work to do here at home, she can’t leave until it’s done. We also reserve the right to pull her back in for family night activities and other functions.
Other than scheduled events, like concerts and plays that involve her siblings, she has the privilege of making her own decisions about where to go, what to do, and with whom. We keep tabs on her, of course. She is required to call home when she changes location and we often call her friends cell phones to make sure she’s actually with the person she claims to be. (After all, she is a normal teenager.) Sometimes, we show up in random locations to verify where she is. Does this make us intrusive or sneaky? Sure, it does. We’re parents. That’s our job.
We must give our children the ability to make mistakes. Mistakes are how we learn. We fall off the bike, and we get back on. Eventually, we gain our balance and the training wheels come off for good. A curfew is very much like those training wheels. Kids need to ride longer without them in order to gain their balance.
The question of what curfew is right for your child depends entirely upon the child. I have an adult daughter who never had this kind of freedom. We have other children who may have even more. Just remember, ask yourself if your child has been responsible in his or her decisions all along. If they have, then don’t sweat the small stuff. And a reasonable, even if a little later, curfew is pretty small stuff.
Source: Personal Experience
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