Should Teens Have A Curfew?

When deciding whether your teen needs a curfew, consider several criteria from sources like the ones that appear in this article.

Teenagers are at that awkward stage of development between childhood and maturity. As parents allow them more freedom to make choices, teens need to display a corresponding level of responsibility.

One area where teenagers often struggle to make good choices is in their social lives. It is not unusual for them to come home late and give a creative or not-so-creative excuse:

"We ran out of gas."

"The party ran late."

"My watch stopped."

Parental responsibility includes the duty of supervising teens' social activities and helping them learn to abide by society's laws and restrictions. This might include a legal curfew issued by your community or a parental curfew that pertains only to family members.

When determining whether your teen needs a night-time curfew that will mandate being home by a certain time, here are a few things to keep in mind:

1. Does your community have a curfew? If so, it is a parent's duty to enforce it. Don't encourage your child to make excuses to police officers who catch a teen out after curfew. Nor should you allow your child, and certainly not help him, if he tries to sneak out past curfew. This is a wonderful opportunity to help your teen appreciate human laws that are put in place for people's protection.

2. Does your teen generally follow household rules? If your son or daughter can be trusted to obey routine guidelines, then perhaps a parental curfew will help provide your teenager with clear boundaries that are easy to follow. For example, it's good to be firm:

"You need to be home, in the house, by 11 p.m."

(Some kids might come in late and claim they were sitting in the car or on the porch.)

Avoid vague rules like this:

"I want you home before the drunks start driving."

3. How safe is your community? If there are problems with gangs, criminal activity, or school bullies, it might be wise to have your teen get in by a reasonable hour, say 11 or 12, depending on his or her age. Weather conditions, road hazards, and other mechanical obstacles may increase a parent's anxiety, especially if the teen hasn't been driving very long. It's better to start with a short curfew and lengthen it over time than to begin with a later curfew, only to shorten it if problems develop.

4. Are there extenuating circumstances? For example, if your teen will be out with questionable influences, if the car has been showing symptoms of needing a checkup, or if there are family concerns that make it helpful or necessary to have your teen at home at a certain time, don't hesitate to issue a curfew. Indicate it may be temporary and it's needful to help your son or daughter understand that a curfew is not meant as a punishment.

Like everything else, curfews will pass, too. Remind your teen this is an important time of life for demonstrating stability and responsiveness to adult guidelines. Everyone will feel better if you're clear about expectations from the outset.

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