It’s 1am and you’ve been startled awake by an inexplicable urge to check the driveway for your teen’s car. Or steal down the hall, wiping sweat from your forehead, to check their bed. Why are you doing this? Because you thought you had an agreement with your son or daughter about when they would be home (in common parlance, their curfew) but once again you were jolted from sleep because you just aren’t sure they remembered. Or took you seriously. Or were plotting to IGNORE said agreement/curfew all the while. The rest of the day is a mixture of irritability, exhaustion, worry studded with bursts of longing for when the bed they inhabited had bars on it and you knew with complete certainty where they were ALL NIGHT LONG.
You are not alone. There are many, many varying opinions about curfews: to curfew or not to curfew, if enforcing a curfew: what’s the right return time? If not enforcing a curfew; how will my teenager have learning experiences but stay safe doing them? Here are some things to consider:
- One study (dated 1996) suggests that when a state enforces curfew laws, teen crime rates go down in that state.
- Many other more recent studies indicate states that have curfew laws not only continue to see about the same teen crime rates as states without curfew laws, they are also spending taxpayer dollars on policing teen curfew enforcement. Some say this is unnecessary, creating a strain on city budgets and unneeded police/teen interfacing that can result in teen victimization.
- The website www.teenink.com, “By Teens, For Teens” posted an opinion blog arguing vehemently against curfew, saying it limits teens’ freedom, their obligations to friends, or their ability to respond to an emergency. Interestingly, a couple of opinion posts were FOR curfews. Essentially with the message yeah duh, what are parents for, yo?
- Positive Discipline.org states a curfew is an “earned freedom” and is 100% necessary for supporting age appropriate developmental milestones while maintaining safety.
Consider this: parenting is a relationship, and relationships take attention, communication, patience, effort, and multiple do-overs to thrive. If you’re wanting to get a full night’s sleep AND you’re parenting a teenager, “to-curfew-or-not-to-curfew” is a dynamic open doorway into this process, and an opportunity to engage with and help your child develop communication and listening skills, decision making skills, mutual respect, and cooperative and collaborative skills. While discussing your teen’s responsibilities when it comes to their social life, maybe you ask them for help, offer limited choices to maintain safety, and practice follow through with your end of the agreement, whatever it may be.
If you’re looking for more tips or discussion about parenting teenagers, reach out to me via email, firstname.lastname@example.org, schedule a free 15 minute consultation, or click on the Schedule Parent Consultation, all on the Schedule page.