My kids want to stay out late. NOW WHAT?



Curfews.  What a touchy subject.  “No one has curfews anymore!”  That’s what you will hear.  “Can’t I just let you know when I’ll be home?  You know where I am.” Sounds perfectly reasonable.  The only thing is, reality is not like that.  So, if you take this approach, then for years and years and years, depending on how many children you raise,  you and your children will most likely be bickering and picking and negotiating on this “when to be home” time.  That is a lot of avoidable stress!

Why not simplify the matter? 

As a mom of two, I surmised after a few years of experience that Nothing Good Happens after Midnight! 

I mean, truthfully.  Think about it.  Football games end, movies end, and yet parties (especially field parties) go on and on and on.  Pretty much everything your child needs to be up to will allow them to get home by midnight.  So, midnight is the MAX curfew, for a high school Senior or College Student.  For younger, I would back it up – Freshman 10:30 pm, Sophomore 11:00, Junior 11:30.

 So, what does this mean?  It means unless your child has a prior agreement with you, he/she will be back in the house by the curfew time. 

Now, did you note that word prior in the previous sentence?  Remember, Have a Plan, Stick to the Plan.  That means basically, no changes as the evening progresses.  None!!  That is when problems crop up.

 You must enforce this!!  I can’t stress enough.  When your teenager calls and tells you what he’s doing and wants to extend the curfew, begs you to extend the curfew, says his ride can’t get him home on time, that’s your cue to say, “I will be glad to pick you up.”  In fact, make sure your child knows it is always okay for them to call you to come get them, with no questions asked. That is a topic that I touched on last week.  Violations of curfew can be handled with standard groundings, but I recommend no night time social events for the next weekend. 

Now, just a word to the wise.  Don’t get too hung up on a few minutes after the hour. 

Many times kids are catching rides with friends and friends’ parents and you don’t want them to speed getting home. 

 And of course, for special occasions the curfew can be adjusted.  But, not very often!  That is a special favor.

A note on college kids.  Yes, we know they are on their own at college and we don’t know where they are and what time they come home, but that is when they are at college.  When they are in your house, CURFEW.  I’ve been through this.  When my one of mine went to college, she just hated the curfew!  She complained and pleaded for no curfew.  At the time, I was working full time (to put her through college –shocker).  I needed everyone to be home safe and sound so I could go to bed and get a good nights sleep.  Well, finally I agreed to try.  I said, “as long as you come home at a reasonable time and let us know when that is and where you are, we’ll try it.”  Well, it wasn’t two nights later, when I woke up at 2 am and she’s not in the house.  Of course, she was okay but that was the end of that trial!  I calmly told her that when she was home for the summer from college, she had a midnight curfew. If that didn't work for her, she would have to pay for her own apartment.


Seriously, I do think parents should be diligent about where their kids are and whom they are with.  And good lessons for when they get out on there own, making decisions on the fly, are:

Stick to the Plan.  and

Nothing good happens after midnight.