Setting and enforcing a teen curfew

teen parent child curfew sign - strictly enforcedOne of the issues that I never really thought about when my children were younger were curfews. If they wanted to be at a friend’s house, they’d need to be home in time for dinner. No complication, no problem. During the summer, if they were neighbors we knew, they could stay for dinner, but certainly needed to be home just after.

Move forward a few years and sleepovers are in the mix. Again, not really an issue because if they’re spending the night with someone, I’m rather out of the loop with schedules, though I usually request that they have a reasonable bedtime, and on the few occasions that it’s ended up a sleepover without sleep, I can shrug it off, though I know my child is going to be in pretty poor shape for a few days afterwards. Go figure, kids need sleep.

But now I have a 15yo daughter who is poised to drive and gain true mobility after her entire life being reliant on someone else being the driver. I don’t have a chauffeur, after all. 🙂

So for me, I try to work backwards with a standard bedtime. 10pm on weekends, 9pm during school nights. Therefore I just back up 30 minutes and her weekend curfew is 9:30pm. I’m a big believer in rhythm and schedules, though I’ll occasionally let the schedule change if there’s some special event like a party, play or concert, etc.

But what I had to figure out was the consequence of her being late, her getting home after curfew. After all, a curfew has no meaning unless there’s a consequence for violating it.

So here’s what I came up with: If she misses her curfew time, the next time she’s out of an evening, her curfew is 30 minutes earlier. And on and on, as necessary, until she simply can’t go out of an evening because she’s lost the privilege.

What do you think?

I’ve found it interesting that she’s quite accepting of the idea and this weekend when I told her that her curfew was 9pm, not 9.30pm, because of some hiccups with her planning and communication last week, she simply said “ok” without a fuss. Chalk one up for consistency and rules, perhaps?

In any case, I’m curious how other parents of teens deal with their children’s curfew. Do you have one, and if so, what is it? Also, what happens if your child breaks curfew?

6 comments on “Setting and enforcing a teen curfew

  1. For awhile we had an alarm set at the time of the curfew – if the alarm went off I was alte and my extra activities for the week were automatically canceled. It was a week of light grounding basically. We never did the “lose 30 minutes”. Good idea though.

  2. My oldest will be taking driver’s ed. this summer, so I have been thinking about this a lot too. I am going to modify a page from my father’s book. Since he remembered many times driving like a maniac to get home before curfew time (his dad was VERY strict), our curfew was to be home at a reasonable hour and call if something delayed us. This will be easier with cell phones. I don’t want my son running red lights or driving way too fast so he gets home at 10:00 instead of 10:05. So I will probaby say something like be home in the 10:00 range if I really want him home by 10:30 because, being a teenager, he will push the boundaries of the 10:00 range.

  3. I’ve got friends who let the car do all the work. The brand new ones can set geo-fences so they can’t go out of a certain boundary you set and the car will shut down if they do, and has GPS so you always know where they are, all run through a phone app. Of course, we’d all have to buy new cars for that. Eh, maybe by the time mine are old enough…

  4. I set curfew depending on what they were doing. If they were going to a movie I’d see when it started and then approximate when it ended and add driving time to that. School nights didn’t have curfew because they didn’t go out those nights. Curfews got later as they got older too.

  5. My oldest is 15 as well, so this post is very timely. I’m a great believer in natural consequences that can be agreed upon. I’m going to use this ’30 minute’ sliding scale.
    @Katie : very good point that we don’t want them racing the clock.

  6. We had curfews, and our kids always abided by them. Although we told them that if for any reason they were going to be late, to please call. It sounds like you have a good system!

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