Growing up, I had a curfew but my children do not. This is not because I let them stay out until all hours letting them do whatever they please, rather it is because after my own experience with curfews as a teen, I wanted to do things a little differently with my own children.
I grew up in Orlando, FL and I had to be home at 10:30 p.m. on school nights and 1:00 a.m. on the weekends. These were firm times and if I was 5 minutes late, I wasn’t able to go out for the entire next week. The problem that I see with my curfew looking back on things is that while the time was very generous (probably way later than it should have been), most of the time there wasn’t anything I was doing that justified me being out as late as my curfew (The saying “Nothing good happens after midnight.” I have found to be true in most cases).
However, regardless of whether I was doing something that legitimately lasted until late (like a movie or a concert) or just hanging out at a friend’s house, I would not come home until my curfew every time. This led to problems like me being much more tired at school than I should have been, getting into trouble that would have probably been avoided had I come home earlier and keeping my parents up until my curfew most nights of the week.
Currently, in our house, the time that my teens come home is determined by various factors. Who are they hanging out with? What will they being doing? How is the weather (this is especially important in the winter) and how tired am I? Let’s be honest. There are some friends that your children want to hang out with that you may be ok with them being around if they are going to a restaurant for a couple of hours but you wouldn’t want them hanging around until all hours of the night. If my children choose to hang out with these friends, they may need to be home by 7:00 p.m.
On the flip side, if there is an awesome movie premier that releases at 10:00 p.m. that I know they have been wanting to see with friends that I trust, they may not need to be home until 12:30 a.m. (my exception to the nothing good happens after midnight rule). This is not a regular occurrence and if they are in their early teen years, I also make sure that a parent is going with them. I also don’t approve super late curfews for just any old movie but I know the genres that my kids love and the movies that they are looking forward to seeing.
We live in the mountains in Virginia so weather is often a factor when deciding curfew. If I know that it’s supposed to begin snowing at 5:00 p.m. then their curfew has just become 4:00 p.m. Being from Florida, I am super paranoid about driving on roads with snow and ice and even when my kids think I’m being ridiculous, because it makes me feel comfortable and I’m the parent, that’s what we go with.
Let’s face it, sometimes your kids want to go out and you are just tired. You may not want to have to pick them up from bowling at 11:30 p.m. or have to stay awake until they get home at midnight. If I have had a crazy day and I’m just not up for a late night, the curfew becomes earlier that day.
I feel like not having a set curfew for my teens has helped me stay in much better communication with them. Who are they going out with? Where are they going and how long do they think they will need for this activity? These are common questions in our home. My teens know that I am flexible with their curfew but that I expect their behavior to be stellar while they are out (otherwise we won’t need to worry about a curfew because no one will be going anywhere). So far it has been a win-win for everyone. What are your thoughts on teens and curfews?