A Parent’s Guide to Implementing and Enforcing a Teenage Curfew
Raising a teenager is never easy, and one of the biggest problems parents have involves enforcing a teenage curfew for their children. For families that do not live in areas where there are state and city curfews, it may be difficult to make sure that your teenager is home on time. Thankfully, there are many things you can do to ensure that you know where your child is, who they are with, and when they will be walking through your front door.
If you have a 17 or 18 yr old at home, and have implemented a curfew of 6 pm, you are likely setting yourself up for disaster. It is imperative that you give proper curfew times based on your child’s responsibility and age. The average 17 yr old should actually be given a teenage curfew of 10 - 11 pm. This will allow them to explore their maturity and be held accountable for their time management and the consequences that follow by breaking it.
A 13 yr old, on the other hand, should have a much earlier curfew, particularly if you live in a high crime area. A good rule of thumb for a blossoming teen of this age is to implement a curfew of no later than 7 pm. The next year it can be raised to 7:30 pm. As your child grows and matures, you can begin to reward them by showing you trust them enough to raise their curfew time.
Communication is Key
Unfortunately, many parents do not know who their child’s friends are. They may be familiar with a name or two, but in an emergency situation, they would have no idea where their child was. This can be easily remedied in numerous ways.
Begin by creating a special address book of all of your child’s friends and their parents. If you child is unwilling to disclose their friends’ parents’ contact information, then you can simply refuse to let them go to their house. Get in contact and attempt to build a relationship with their friends’ parents. This way, if young Bobby says he will be studying at Josh’s, you can call Josh’s parents and verify this. The knowledge that you have contact with their friends’ parents will make you child much less likely to create false alibis as well.
Many parents balk at the idea of purchasing a cell phone for their child. They see it as a useless device that will promote bad behavior and distract their children from homework and school. Weigh the benefits though. Think back to when you were a teenager and your parents would pace through the house until you got home on the occasion that you were late. A cell phone can provide a great way to ease your mind and serves as a lifeline in an emergency.
If cost is a concern, you can have a special prepaid cell phone that you allow your child to use only when they go out at night with their friends. This will ensure that they can call you if there is a problem or if they will be late due to a flat tire or some other appropriate reason.
In addition to this, you can use the cell phone as a means for your child to check in with you when they get to their stated destination and when they are preparing to leave and come home. If they raise a stink about calling you in front of their friends, you can inform them to do it in a closed bathroom or simply remind them that curfew is a privilege and not a right. Eventually they will understand this, and will accept your rules about their teenage curfew.