As we move into the teen years, your child will want to go out into the world with their friends. Discussions of bedtime tend to wane, and they are replaced with curfew times. It is the position of many teens that they are responsible enough to come home at a reasonable time. It is the reality that so many parents have seen that this simply is not the case. Here is another opportunity to make your child mad for their own good, and in turn reduce their chances of getting in trouble, getting hurt or otherwise messing up their life permanently. Impose a curfew. Here are my reasons:
- Many municipalities around the nation have already put a curfew law in place for children under 18, and some have a second or third tier of law that applies to those under 14 and/or under 16. Out past the city’s curfew, and caught, and your child faces a fine, community service, or both.
- Traffic fatalities. According to AAA, the hours between midnight and 4 am have the highest percentage of traffic fatalities compared to the number of people on the road.
- Peer pressure. When kids are out together, their strongest motivator is the approval of their peers. The longer they go into the evening, the more likely they will encounter someone who is doing something that they shouldn’t be doing.
- Rest and sleep. The teenage body needs lots of sleep because both body and mind are growing. Staying out all hours of the night leads to irregular sleep habits, mood swings, and poor performance in school.
- Setting of boundaries shows that you care. Teens might not like it, but they need their parents to behave like parents now more than at any other time in their lives. A curfew is one of those healthy requirements that not only show you care but also sets the pattern that most adults don’t stay out and party all night either.
- More opportunities to get into trouble. As most businesses close down by 10 pm, there are fewer things for your child and their friends to do so they come up with things to do on their own. Opposite-sex encounters can lead to sexually-transmitted diseases or unwanted pregnancy, both of which are life-changing consequences.
- Lack of judgment. This one plays back on several of the reasons mentioned. Your child thinks that they are invincible; that’s part of the teenage psyche. They underestimate how tired they are and they overestimate their restraint and self-control. Likewise, the chances of falling asleep at the wheel, falling victim to peer pressure, or some other hazard of impaired judgment is greater in teens.
As your child graduates high school, there will be another conversation about curfews as long as they live in your home. Stay strong on this one parents – for all of the same reasons this applies to younger teens, your college student or young working adult needs to adhere to a curfew as well. While they live in your home, your adult children need to adhere to your house rules also.
As Facebook and other social media hangouts have entered our home, you might also consider electronic curfews. Even though your child might be home the fact that they can hang out with their friends online all night is now a reality. In addition to losing sleep, webcams and other interactions present many of the same dangers that are mentioned above through permanent damage to online reputations.
Your teenager, although adult-like in appearance, is still a child inside. They need your protection, your guidance, and your wisdom. A curfew is just another one of the tools that you can use to raise your child in a loving manner. Parents, what sort of curfews do you set and at what age? What penalties to you impose for breaking curfew? Please chime in and let others know your experiences!