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Teens Who Ignore Curfews: Tips for Parents

“My 17-year-old son thinks that just because it’s Christmas break he can come and go as he pleases and stay out as late as he wants. Any thoughts on how I can get him to comply with his curfew (which is 11:30 P.M.)?”

Setting a curfew for an adolescent is one of those things that must be done carefully and enforced completely from the beginning. Being allowed to roam around with buddies is most definitely a privilege, and chances are if moms and dads aren’t remaining aware and informed at all times, their adolescent will get into some sort of trouble eventually.

Parents would do well to set early curfews in the beginning. Having younger teens come home around 9:00 P.M. ensures that they are given freedom, but are also expected to be home at a reasonable hour. This not only allows you to get your rest, but also allows them to display their trustworthiness.

As time progresses and your adolescent has adhered to curfews, you can begin to push it back by 30 minute increments. When you get to around midnight – it may be time to stop. No matter how old your son or daughter is, there really is no good reason to stay out past midnight. Most states have laws restricting adolescents to drive after a certain time unless they are coming to and from work, and most states do not allow adolescents to drive around with a car load of peers. If your youngster questions your curfew judgment, blame it on the law.

Most moms and dads feel pressured and cave-in to the complaining adolescent who asserts that all his buddies get to stay out later than him. Chances are the young people who can stay out are completely unsupervised, and those that are staying out later are not following their curfew. Don’t be afraid to ask other mothers and fathers what time their teens are supposed to be home in the evening, and always keep in the forefront of your mind that the longer your adolescent is allowed to stay out, the more trouble he can get into.

Adolescents are well equipped to know exactly how many beers they can have at a party and still make it home by curfew without their mom or dad noticing they have been experimenting with alcohol. Shorter curfews also ensures that your son or daughter can’t travel too far away from your home, town or neighborhood where he or she might be hanging out with groups of young people you don’t know very well.

As you begin setting a curfew for your adolescent, it is crucial that you enforce it. It’s absolutely necessary that some consequence be suffered for missing curfew - and even more important - that your adolescent knows the curfew is non-negotiable. Make adjustments for things like homecoming or proms – but nothing else. If your youngster is consistently late, ground her completely, or make her curfew so early that it isn’t worth leaving the house (although she still will).

The life of an adolescent gets more dangerous and tempting as time goes on. The young people that are allowed to stay out late are usually not the best influence, possibly have moms and dads who are out of town, and may be much older than your youngster (most adolescents don’t mention the 19-year-old boy who graduated last year, but still hangs out with them).

Although spying is not permissible in your teen’s eyes, YOU SHOULD DO IT ANYWAY! It’s your job to check up on your youngster to make sure he is telling you the truth, and so that you know for certain he is being responsible. Think back to when you were an adolescent. Remember? Don’t discount the fact that your adolescent will try the same tricks.

Another way to enforce curfew - and drive home the importance of it - is to ‘show up’ where your teen is if she is late coming home. Most adolescents would rather die than have their mother waltz into a party at 12:30 A.M, pulling them by the ear and taking them home. Do it once, and chances are your youngster will have incentive to abide by her curfew in the future.

If your youngster is going to be late due to an extenuating circumstance, make sure he calls. When he does, yelling, screaming or threatening on your part is not wise. Your adolescent needs to know that he can count on you and trust you to not overreact when he is trying to do the right thing. For example, there may come a time when your child’s buddy may get drunk and offer to drive him home. If you handle things right, your teenager will feel safe calling you for a ride instead. If something comes up that seems a reasonable excuse, make an allowance once – but don’t fall victim to constant issues. Remember the old phrase: “Fool me once – shame on you, but fool me twice – shame on me.”

Setting a curfew for adolescents is very important. The US Highway Safety Administration concludes that more adolescents are killed in car accidents after midnight than at any other time. Also, after midnight most establishments that cater to young people are closed. Insist that your teenager call you when she changes plans or moves locations, and if you don’t approve with what she is doing – require that she come home NOW! When adolescents begin to shift their plans and make excuses, your parental radar should be high – they are more than likely up to something. Even good teenagers, “straight A” students and athletes who have never given their mom or dad a problem are privy to peer pressure and ‘normal’ adolescent antics.

As a mother or father, the first responsibility is to keep teens safe and alive, and the only way you can do this is to remain vigilant and stay consistent in your rules, curfews and expectations – and back them up with enforcement.


==> My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents


Mark – this describes my 17-year old son spot on.  In addition to not coming home on curfew (which used to be 12:00am) – he now pushes it to 2:30am – 3am – 3:30am.  That is not bad enough – when he does come home, he thinks it is his god given right to have a huge munch fest at that time of the morning (usually comes home “baked” and doesn’t even try to hide it anymore.  He is so inconsiderate – there is no talking to him about his behavior, his disrespect for myself, my husband, and my 20 year old son!  We all work and he totally disregards any calm or peace in our house anymore.   He has been in trouble with the law in the past and as a matter of fact, is back in the court system right now as my husband and I had to call the police on him back in April as he has gotten to the point of breaking things in our home.  He has stolen from us and has done damage to our home with his temper.  The case has been postponed twice already and I suspect the same will happen tomorrow.  His legal aid lawyer tells him not to worry, that nothing will come of this!!!  I cannot believe I am even speaking of my son this way – it sounds like I am describing a monster!!!  He has become the child that other parents do not want their children around!!!  How sad is that!!!  We have tried so hard to bring him up with good morals and values.  He is from a good home, with a loving family.  I have a large family, many of whom live in the same town that we do – as well as my husband’s family.  Both of his grandmothers live here in town.  Everyone is worried about him – except for him!  He thinks it’s ok to live his own life, he is 17 now and no longer needs rules or a curfew!!!!  What do we do or where do we go from here – life has become unbearable for us as a family …..


Pinetown77 said...

Please find help for your son , such as a Baptist or Methodist children's home. The Methodist homes in particular, work with the court systems in some states. Or try Cal Farley's Boys Ranch in Texas. Do it now! Talk to the court system. Tell them you want to try this while he's still a minor, before he's 18 and has a record as an adult. I've been where you are & it's not fun, only my son was 13 and his dad had died recently. He's a different child now & still growing & glad I found help for US as a family. Praying for you. said...

I have very similar issues with my 15 soon to be 16 yr old son. It's very hard to know how to deal with all the problems that this behaviour causes. I don't care what people say, marijuana IS ADDICTIVE for some and especially for young teens who have no direction in life.... I am in Queensland, Australia and there are no schools / camps / groups here :( So my husband (and our 13yr old) struggle along and hope that maturity will kick in sooner rather than later.

SS said...

I have been through the same thing with my son since he was 15 and now will turn 18th in March.
We sent him to a boarding school when things got out of control, he was 15 at the time and spent 8 months in the boarding.
After being there for 4 months, he started following the rules and completely changed. He even told me all the bad things he did and said that he would dump all the friends he had as they were all bad influence on him.
When we brought him back home, we had 2 months of honey moon and then went back to his bad habits and old friends.
I put a spyware software in the computer and got his log in to tweeter and snapchat, and let me tell you, it is heart breaking to see these teenagers getting wasted.
I cry all the time and I pray for him to get in trouble with law and get caught before he turns 18th!

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