Now that school’s back in session, how do you address weeknight curfew with your teens?
Admittedly, the issue is easier with younger kids. Because they’re dependent on adults for transportation, parents control when kids leave the house and when they return. Teens 16 and older, though, often are driving themselves to work, outings with friends, sports activities or to school events.
Just because you aren’t providing a ride doesn’t mean kids can (or should) have complete freedom to come home at any time of the evening. After all, your household does need to gear down for the night if everyone’s to get enough rest to live peacefully together.
Here are some tips for establishing a weeknight curfew that works for everyone — parents and teens alike.
1. Sit down with your teen at a neutral time and review when everyone needs to leave the house on weekday mornings in order to arrive at school or work on time and with a minimal amount of stress.
2. Remind your teen that everyone in the house (including parents and younger siblings) needs a good night’s sleep to function in the morning. When people are coming and going (and opening and closing the garage and house doors, turning lights on and off, getting something to eat, etc.), that can disrupt others’ sleep and lead to grouchy mornings for all.
3. Taking into account all family members’ sleep needs (including your own!), and your teen’s activities during the week, mutually agree upon a time when your teen will be in the house on weeknights. This also means any of your son’s or daughter’s visiting friends must be on the way home by no later than that time.
4. While you can’t enforce when teens actually fall asleep, you can agree on a definite time when they’ll be in their rooms, doing something quiet and legal.
5. Discuss and agree upon technology usage once they’re in their rooms for the night. Will they have access to their phones? Laptops? Televisions? If so, do they need to moderate the volume of those devices? Many families solve this issue by establishing a time when all devices go on their chargers in one location — frequently in the parents’ room.
6. Agree to revisit the curfew as needed. Decide ahead of time on negative consequences for breaking curfew, as well as positive consequences for keeping it.
Remember, when you negotiate a weeknight curfew with your teen, you’re doing more than keeping yourself and your household sane. You’re helping your teen learn the importance of time management and consideration for everyone in the family — skills they’ll use for a lifetime!
Laura Holmes Buddenberg joined Father Flanagan's Boys' Home in January 2000. As a training manager at Boys Town, Buddenberg works as an administrator, writer and trainer, specializing in teen dating and relationships, media awareness, family spirituality, abuse and other issues affecting today's families.