Most experts agree that moms and dads should discuss rules, especially curfews, with their youngster, so the youngster understands why the rule is the way it is, and can have a chance to give input. If your youngster helps to create the rules, he'll be less likely to break them and defy your authority.
Curfews are important because they set up reasonable boundaries to protect your family culture. Teenagers hate fixed, out-of-date, and inhuman rules with a passion. They want to be involved in the process of establishing them. So, sit down with your teenagers and work together on a list of specific rules for your household. Give them the opportunity to come up with ideas, add to the list, and comment on anything related to each of the rules.
Here are some simple rules for putting curfews in place:
1. Communicate clearly what the agreed upon times are, through written and verbal reinforcements. This means, post it on the refrigerator and reinforce with a verbal reminder, such as: "Look forward to seeing you around eleven tonight." And be careful how hard and fast you make that curfew. Allow for a small buffer, perhaps fifteen minutes, so that your youngster does not drive faster in order to be home by curfew and avoid punishment.
2. Execute the consequences of broken rules. When your daughter is late, give her the freedom and opportunity to comment and explain. Maybe there were unplanned events, like a flat tire, or a surprise party. Try to find a solution to the problem together. If an adolescent still breaks the curfew rule, let the agreed-upon consequences fall into place. Since you and your adolescent have already discussed these consequences and set them up together (e.g. take away car keys, remove home privileges, like TV use, etc.) you are not forced into the position of playing the "bad guy" or creating a punishment on the spot.
3. If your adolescent has missed curfew because drinking or drugs were involved, then the consequences are more serious. Simply enact these more serious consequences that you and your adolescent set up together.
4. Involve your teenagers in setting their nighttime boundaries. Reach an agreement together as to a curfew time that is age-appropriate for each adolescent. Compromise if necessary. You don't always have to be the "winner."
On another note, it never hurts to check on your adolescent from time to time. If your adolescent says she is going to be at the coffee shop at 5 p.m. with their friends, drop by and see for yourself. You do not have to even let your adolescent know. If your daughter sees you, just wave and keep on walking. Teenagers need to know that there will be some unscheduled checking by you. If they are spending the night at a friend’s house, call and ask to speak to your youngster at an unusual time. Parenting is active, and that means you have to make that effort to check on your adolescent. This takes courage, but it is the price of making sure your youngster is safe.
Does that mean you should follow your adolescent around or attach a tracking device to his clothing? Of course not! But as a parent, you should listen to your intuition. If something sounds sketchy, then it’s at least worth taking a closer look. But if you are open and honest with your adolescent about the rules of the house, there will probably be a lot less “sneaking around” – and that means a more harmonious household, even if your adolescent would rather jump in an icy lake than be seen with you at Starbucks.
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