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Teenagers and Curfews

By Chris Jordan

 

Sometimes when I am out shopping at the grocery store I see other mothers who look just like me. Bags under their eyes, stifling yawns, clothing that looks like it was put on haphazardly or possibly slept in. Our carts are filled with snack foods, frozen pizzas, and coffee.

Teenagers and Curfew

It’s the frozen pizzas that are the real give away.

We recognize each other. We nod knowingly, exhaustedly, at each other as our carts pass in the aisles. We are in the club that no one tells you about before you have children. Should the Zombie Apocalypse happen, we’d be mistaken for zombies.

No, we aren’t new mothers. There aren’t any cute babies with delicious smelling heads strapped to our chests. We aren’t awake all night holding cranky babies. We aren’t watching infomercials while silently praying for our babies to fall asleep.

No, we are the parents of teenagers. Those who are old enough to drive and have curfews past our bedtimes. We wish we could still strap them to our chests, at least we’d know where the hell they are.  Parenting babies might not have been easier, but it was certainly much more obvious.

We are the curfew police. Making sure that our children arrive home safely and on time.

And for the record, teenage heads? Do not smell that good.

*****

I wish my son would just do something wrong so I could ground him for a week! Then I could catch up on my sleep. I am so tired.

Oh I know.

I am almost looking for reasons to ground him.

I keep asking why he can’t hang out with his friends at a reasonable hour.  I have officially turned into my grandmother.

*****

It never ends this tug between letting them go and holding on. A balancing act, one where just as you have your footing secure underneath you something shifts. I feel lately like there is no black and white answers to the dilemmas I face parenting teenagers. We have moved into an area that is entirely grey. Most of my friends don’t yet have older teenagers and often I feel like the advice they offer is not unlike the first-time pregnant woman offering advice on how best to deal with a tantruming two year old. The advice might be sound or helpful, but it isn’t the same as actually having gone through the trenches.

When I was a teenager and in high school I had a 2am curfew and then no curfew at all. I frequently came home as the sun was rising. My mother never waited up for me. Even though I was a good kid who didn’t get into any (real) trouble, I don’t want my own children out until that hour on a regular basis, or even ever. I am unsure what a reasonable time is to expect my teenagers home.  For now it has been on a case by case basis, but I am quickly growing weary of the constant negotiations.

Perhaps the most difficult part about parenting teenagers is that it doesn’t seem so very long ago. I can clearly remember what it felt like to be that age. How I felt my own parents were so old and so very out of touch. How I thought I would parent differently, that I’d be a cool parent.

Instead I am that glazed eyed parent wandering the grocery store,having spent the previous night sitting on the couch in the darkened living room counting down the minutes to curfew.

What do you think is an appropriate curfew for teenagers? Do you remember having a curfew when you were that age?  Do you think it would be okay if I just locked my teenagers in a plastic bubble until they turn thirty?

Chris Jordan
About the Author

Chris Jordan

Chris Jordan began blogging at Notes From the Trenches in 2004 where she wrote about her life raising her children in Austin, Texas.

Oh, she has seven of them. Yes, children. Yes, they...

Chris Jordan began blogging at Notes From the Trenches in 2004 where she wrote about her life raising her children in Austin, Texas.

Oh, she has seven of them. Yes, children.
Yes, they are all hers.
No she’s not Catholic or Mormon. Though she wouldn’t mind having a sister-wife because holy hell the laundry never stops.
Yes, she finally figured out what causes it. That’s why her youngest is a teen now.
Yes, she has a television.

She enjoys referring to herself in the third person.

 

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bessie.viola
Guest

I was a high school senior in 2002, and I had a curfew of 12am on Friday and Saturday and 10pm the rest of the week. I still had to get an okay before going out; I couldn’t come and go as I pleased. I was also frequently late for the 10pm curfew. There were some exceptions made for things like graduation parties or New Year’s Eve, but those times were pretty much the rule. At the time, I thought it was utterly ridiculous (of course) but now as a parent I think it’s pretty reasonable. Someone recently said that… Read more »

Ann from St. Peter MN
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Ann from St. Peter MN

As the mom to two kids who recently made it past their teens, I can tell you I really didn’t have a set curfew for them – it was basically dependent on what they planned to do. However – they both knew that that I saw no reason to be out after midnight or so. There is nothing to do at that time of night that can come to any good. The one rule I had was that no matter what time they got home, they were to come into my room, wake me and tell me they were home.… Read more »

Emily
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Emily

My curfew was 2am. Then, as I approached college, my mother got a little more restrictive and wanted me home earlier. Her thoughts on the 2am curfew went along the lines of ‘the bars are closing, drunks are getting on the road, I want my kids home’. It didn’t really matter as everyone I hung out with had to be home by 11 or 12. As for ‘nothing good happening after midnight’, I still laugh at that as my adult friends stay at my house past then playing board games while their toddler sleeps on the couch. It’s hard to… Read more »

Anonymous
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Anonymous

So now I am one of those moms trying to give advice about teenagers and I don’t have teenagers. My boys are still little, but I am wondering if maybe you don’t have to wait up so you can get your sleep. Maybe you can require your boys to come in, lock up, turn out the lights and that they MUST come in to your room to say goodnight and let you know they’re home and safe. If they miss their curfew and are late, you’ll know and they’ll receive the consequences. If you aren’t woken up with their “goodnight,”… Read more »

Leslie
Guest

I had a 10 pm curfew as a teenager unless it was a special occasion like a dance or something. My parents always waited up for me, so I knew that I was inconveniencing them if i stayed out too late. This was in 2002.  As a teenager it is really important to get enough sleep, so 10 pm is more than reasonable when you have to get up at 5 or 6 am for school. 

Jenn
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Jenn

My curfew was 10:30 pm after getting my license. It happened to coincide with our city’s curfew for minors so there was no reason to argue. Not that I would have anyway because I thought it was pretty darn reasonable… I can’t even fathom what 16-year-olds could be doing out any later than that, nothing good, that’s for sure. And besides, all I remember about being a teenager is how tired I was all the time and how I could never get enough sleep, and never spent enough time on my homework. Teenagers supposedly need 10+ hours of sleep but… Read more »

jL
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jL

I have 10 month old twins and I am already dreading them becoming teenagers. I didn’t have a curfew in high school (graduated in 2000) but my mom always waited up or slept on the couch with the TV on until I came home (and she still does that when we come visit). I do think that not having a curfew helped me in not rebelling very much. I always felt like my parents trusted me and it was nice to have that freedom. My husband had a very strict curfew and got in lots more trouble than I could… Read more »

Katherine @ Grass Stains
Guest

My curfew in high school was 9:30 on weeknights, 11:00 on weekends. When I was a senior in HS, I got bumped up to 11:30 on weekends! My parents were pretty strict, as most of my friends were able to stay out later.

The real kicker was that when I came home from college on the weekends, I STILL had a curfew at home! That about killed me. (I’m 38 now, and I’m a total night owl who doesn’t go to sleep until after midnight.)

Zoot
Guest
Zoot

E’s curfew changes with the event/activities of the evening. But I am not ashamed to admit this: I have INSISTED he come home early on nights so I can catch up on my sleep. Prom? I think he was home at 2am. But 8:30 movie and nothing to do afterwards? No house where they’re all gathering and they’re just milling around? Home by 11pm. I like real plans, and he knows he gets to stay out later if he has them. I don’t like the “Just home by X Time” thing. HOWEVER, he is also always encouraged to have people… Read more »

SarahA
Guest

My curfew was flexible – I had to call by 9pm to let my parents know what time I would be home and what we were doing. If I didn’t I had to be home by 10pm. I could come home at 4am if I wanted as long as I told them. My sister had the same rules at first but she never called so she had a hard and fast 10pm curfew. I think it was fair. I proved that I was responsible and she did not.

Heather
Guest

In high school weeknight curfew was 10:00 and weekends were midnight sometimes abit later if we went to a late movie, but I had to be home as soon as the movie was out. My Husband never had a curfew it was understood that he had to be home after he dropped me off. Good luck! I’m not there yet, I still have a few more years.

suziejd
Guest

So timely for me! My daughter is just wrapping up her freshman year.  She is starting a summer crew program TODAY, that includes a practice from 6 – 8:30 p.m.  We live in an semi-urban area, so she rides her bike there.  She won’t be home until 9, at least.  She then wants to hang out with friends.   So my husband and I just this afternoon bantered around different options for her curfew.  11?  11:30?  12?  I think for this year, we landed on 11, unless she needs a ride.  Then it has to be 10.  We figure next… Read more »

crabbyappleseed
Guest

My curfew was 12:30 on the weekends and, well, I don’t know on school nights, because I was expected to come home after whatever practice I might have and stay there, unless I had a project to work on or study plans, and both were pretty rare. Most of my friends had to be home by midnight, but my parents were night owls and didn’t mind the extra half hour. I was also a very, very good kid, and my friends and I were literally sitting around someone’s living room and watching movies or playing games or just talking, so… Read more »

BJG
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BJG

I was a teenager in the early ’90s, which doesn’t feel so long ago to me, but it makes me feel old. Anyway, at 15 my curfew was midnight on weekends. As I got older I was granted an extra half hour starting from my birthday. By the time I was 18, it was 1:30. I had a 10pm weekday curfew all through high school unless it was a special event. The big kicker is that I was rarely able to go out both nights on the weekend – I had to pick one, and I still needed to ok… Read more »

Jenn
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Jenn

I had a curfew living with my parents … even when I was 21 and paying rent! I really do believe that having such a heavy hand restricting what time I came home at led to my huge rebellions and nearly DUI. I was a good kid in high school – decent grades and my friends and I were total dorks. We didn’t drink, smoke or do drugs. We would either have movie/TV parties or drive around singing musicals, 80’s etc. I always had to be home at like 10 PM. Even on the weekends. AND I could only hang… Read more »

Tai
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Tai

In high school, I didn’t really have one. My mom knew ALL my friends and knew EXACTLY what we were up to. (Wal-Mart to look at stuff, McD’s for a buger, and then someone’s house to watch bad movies.)  Usually I would say where I was going, what I was doing, and who I was going with, then give an ETA. If I was going to be more than fifteen minutes later, I’d call my mom so she could go to bed or wait up for me, her choice. I didn’t even have a cell phone until I was seventeen… Read more »

Kathy from NJ
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Kathy from NJ

Back in the dark ages of the ’60’s my parents had to know who we were with, what we planned to do and then curfew was set. If it was movies & something to eat after, curfew was 1 hour after the movie was over. I did a lot of baby-sitting and would often get home at midnight or after. Regardless of whether it was a date or a baby-sitting job, I had to wake my parents and kiss them good-night when I got home. In college curfew was 8 PM on school nights for freshmen, 11 PM on Fri… Read more »

Monica
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Monica

Set a curfew, then set your bedside alarm clock to that time. Let your child know that they are responsible for turning off the alarm clock (before it goes off) when they get home.
And get some sleep!

Mags
Guest
Mags

I had a curfew of 10:00 or 11:00 through high school, except on specific occasions: Nights out at the movies or football games, home by 1 hour after the end or midnight, whichever came first Nights where I was appearing in shows, home by midnight Prom, had to call when I got back to town from wherever it was being held but could come in pretty much whenever as long as they knew I wasn’t on the road and wasn’t drinking Midnight movies by prior arrangement, as long as they knew who I was with The one over-riding rule was… Read more »

Mae
Guest
Mae

I thought I was the only one who likes to smell the head of babies – There aren’t any cute babies with delicious smelling heads strapped to our chests.
I still haven’t outgrow that habit but my son has. The other day when I was uncounciously giving him a kiss on the head cum smelling it. His exact reaction was ” Can you stop smelling me ah? “

Angela
Guest

Midnight Friday and Saturday, and 10pm any other night. And if they think they get to sleep in Saturday and Sunday…HAHAHAHAHAA! Those were my curfews my senior year of high school. the only time I was allowed out all night was for a sleepover at a friends house and prom. Still no idea why they let me stay out all night for prom. Probably SHOULDN’T have!

Oh, and I like the alarm clock idea. That is clever! I will sock that away for the future.

Nicki
Guest

I am one of those who doesn’t have a teenager yet but I clearly remember being one and the things people around me were doing. I had a 10pm curfew and my friend had a 12am curfew.  Depending on whose house we stayed at depended on what time we came home, and yes it was hers more often than mine. However having grown up  in a small town with  nothing more to do than drive around town, I know that pretty much nothing happened after midnight that I’d want my kids to be a part of… except for special occasions.… Read more »

Laura
Guest
Laura

I had a curfew of 10 during the week (unless I was working then it was 10 minutes after I got off work) and midnight on weekend (again subject to work). The town we live in now has a manditory curfew of midnight so that is it, although my 19 and 17 year old are rarely out that late (guess they don’t take after mom).

Stacy
Guest
Stacy

Alarm clock plan works great unless your kid trains a sibling to turn off the clock for him so he can stay out later. Not that I know anyone who ever did that or anything…

rose
Guest
rose

9th /10th grade, 10:00 unless something special 11th grade 11:00 12th, 12:00 And it was more for my sanity than theirs, and I told them that. I also didn’t allow sleepovers anywhere else. Friends could come to our house if they were so desperate to spend the night together. There are rights and there are privileges. Going out at night is a privilege, and we sometimes said no because we were tired and didn’t want to stay up. That often caused a calamity, but they got over it the next day. They will always tell you they are the only… Read more »

rose
Guest
rose

9th /10th grade, 10:00 unless something special 11th grade 11:00 12th, 12:00 And it was more for my sanity than theirs, and I told them that. I also didn’t allow sleepovers anywhere else. Friends could come to our house if they were so desperate to spend the night together. There are rights and there are privileges. Going out at night is a privilege, and we sometimes said no because we were tired and didn’t want to stay up. That often caused a calamity, but they got over it the next day. They will always tell you they are the only… Read more »

Midj
Guest
Midj

It’s been a graduated curfew. 10, 11, midnight, and now finally, 1:00 for my 18 year old, no curfew for my college senior who lives at home. They are required to text me (my sound is turned off) when they get in. That way, I go to sleep and can check on them at any point when I wake up without getting out of bed. The few times they have forgotten, I get out if bed and awaken them while “checking on” them. “Oops, was I too noisy opening your door?? The light’s too bright??” They don’t forget often… 🙂… Read more »

Allie
Guest
Allie

I plan on using the curfew rules my parents did unless my girls can’t handle it. Midnight on Sunday to Thursday. No curfew on Friday or Saturday. My parents went to bed at 10ish so I had to call by 9:30 and let them know where I’d be from 10 pm on and I had to wake my mom when I arrived home so she could turn off the alarm she set for whatever time I said I’d be home. The rule was always good for me. I was tardy once in the morning and for a month my time… Read more »

Julie
Guest
Julie

My 17-year-old daughter has an 11:00 p.m. curfew. We have generally upped her curfew up an hour each year (10th grade, 10:00 p.m.; 11th grade, 11:00 p.m., etc…). When she starts her senior year this fall, her curfew will be midnight. Since we’re both too old to stay up that late (ha), my husband and I take turns “napping” on the couch until she gets home.

Cy
Guest
Cy

10 pm on weeknights for my teenager. 11:30 on weekends for freshman & sophomore year, then midnight when he was a junior & senior. His friends mostly had the same curfew, yet they managed to get into plenty of trouble anyway. He’s 19 now, home for the summer, and stays out till morning. I’m a light sleeper so I usually hear him come in. I don’t want to know where he’s been. I have another one who is currently less social–thank god–and I know I will be stricter on his times. He’s my baby! And I am old, but one… Read more »

Bailie
Guest
Bailie

I don’t have any advice but I just want to express my condolences. 😛 After reading this article, I finally understand what a pain in the butt I must have been. My poor mother always stayed awake, waiting for me. She would be in bed but I know she never could sleep. I say go with the locking them in a bubble idea. It is the only way you will get sleep!

Michelle
Guest
Michelle

I agree with the alarm clock. Set it for the curfew so they have to come home and turn it off before it rings and wakes you up. That’s what my parents did for me and it worked great. Of course, I was a good kid and never sneaked out after turning off the alarm clock. This wouldn’t work so well for kids who may abuse it. Also, this doesn’t address your sleep if you are up worrying about them!

Diahn Ott
Guest

Mine aren’t old enough to worry about this yet, but I plan to do the same thing my parents did. Whatever time I was supposed to be home was the time my mom set on her alarm clock. She got to go to bed, and I was the one who worried about getting home on time. The alarm never went off, and my curfew was periodically extended for special occasions because of my history.

But if you find a good bubble, please let me know…

Lynne
Guest
Lynne

I have a teenager and I am that sleepless woman in the grocery store with coffee and junk food. I feel your pain. I like the alarm clock idea but there is something in me that isn’t comfortable going to sleep before he gets home. I’m not quite sure what it is.

Mert
Guest
Mert

My oldest is a Jr. in college, the middle a sophomore in college and my youngest is a senior in hs. In high school the curfew is midnight unless other arrangements are made. For my older two in college I need to know by 11 if they are coming home or staying over at a friend’s place. That seems like an ok compromise of their desire for complete freedom like they have at school and my desire to know when to call the police and report them missing!

Nicole
Guest
Nicole

My mom was the very overprotective disciplinarian. She was making it up as she went along as far as what the rules/curfew was for my sister and me, and, like another commenter, I felt we were being punished when we never did anything wrong. We were pretty much never allowed to go anywhere without the third degree before and after (I was a teenager before the age of everyone having a cell phone), and certainly never on a school night, unless it was a game (I was in band) or practice (volleyball team). I also had to just come straight… Read more »

Lisa
Guest
Lisa

I have a 20 yr old who just finished his sophomore year in college, and a 17 yr old who will be starting his senior year. The 20 yr old lives with roommates, even in the summer. He was a challenging teenager. Didn’t matter where we drew the line in the sand, he stepped over it. I’m trying to prepare myself for my 17 year old to approah the “launching pad.” He has a loose curfew. We say “1ish as long as he texts us to let us know where he is. As he gets older he pushes the “come… Read more »

Lisa
Guest
Lisa

I have a 20 yr old who just finished his sophomore year in college, and a 17 yr old who will be starting his senior year. The 20 yr old lives with roommates, even in the summer. He was a challenging teenager. Didn’t matter where we drew the line in the sand, he stepped over it. I’m trying to prepare myself for my 17 year old to approah the “launching pad.” He has a loose curfew. We say “1ish as long as he texts us to let us know where he is. As he gets older he pushes the “come… Read more »

kateebee
Guest
kateebee

I was the “mean” mum. The one that always drove to pick up whoever needed it. The rule was to call me from her cell phone. Not text – because any one could do that for her. If she called I could do a voice judgement, ask a few key questions and determine if there would be a pick-up. Thank goodness for caller ID.   After midnight staying over at a house was preferable to being on the road for either of us. And it went that way for kids who were at our house. If I didn’t get that… Read more »

Heather's Garden
Guest

If I recall correctly, it was 11pm on the weeknights (school started at 7:15am the following morning, so who needed to be out later than that?) and no specific curfew on the weekends and a requirement to let us know where he was and what he was doing. But I’m a night owl so it was never an issue for me. The only issue was me not drinking so I could go pick him up from a friend’s house because my husband wanted to go to bed. When he started driving we got a little more concerned about the other… Read more »

PamS
Guest
PamS

Chris – I have a just-graduated teen. He took driver ed so as soon as he turned 17 he no longer had a 9:00 driving curfew. I wanted to keep some type of control through his senior year – so had a home by 10 curfew on school nights and home by midnight curfew on weekends. I used to be a night owl so that wasn’t too bad. However, my work schedule switched me to a morning person and staying up until midnight was making me cranky to say the least. I give you these options to work around with… Read more »

Deb
Guest
Deb

I can’t tell you the number of times I relied on “escaping” trouble because I had a midnight curfew on weekends during high school. I would set the time you are most comfortable with, and explain to them that this curfew is as much for you as it is for them. This has to do with respect, and respect is a two way street. They respect your need to know they are safely home at a reasonable hour, you respect their need for independence.

Joanna
Guest
Joanna

I didn’t have a curfew in high school. Mainly because my boyfriend had stricter parents than I did and had a fairly early curfew (10pm on weekdays; midnight on weekends). The strictest rule in our house was actually about dinner: 6pm every night, friends could always be invited over to join us, but it was rare to be allowed to miss it. I went to college fourteen hours away from home (my mom said it freed up all sorts of brain space not having to remember my schedule or figure me into her plans). I remember my dad stopping me… Read more »

MJB
Guest
MJB

I am weary of the “constant negotiations” too and my oldest is only 13. This year my previously mellow child is pushing to do more and more and MORE. I grew up with very strict parents, and I don’t want to be that parent. The problem is: what I consider more lenient and quite reasonable limits are now “strict” by today’s standards. Sigh. My solution is to become friendly with the parents of my son’s friends. They’re struggling as much as I am, and we figure as long as we have about the same rules, our kids can’t say we’re… Read more »

Anais
Guest
Anais

It’s not at all about the curfew – growing up, my friend and I never had a curfew – we were the only two of our group of friends who didn’t and we’d regularly stay out for several hours after everybody else had gone home and only go our separate ways at two or three AM (this is from the age of 14 or so, he had a tutor and I was in charge of my own homeschooling by that age). However, when we got up the next day, I got up to a busy, happy house with a real… Read more »

GG
Guest
GG

Mother’s little helper. A trusty old alarm clock. Set it for 5 minutes after curfew – and set it next to the front door. As the kid comes in on time, they shut the alarm off. If the alarm goes off and wakes Mom (the curfew warden) up because curfew has been broken, guess who’s in trouble? My sister taught me this trick, and I got plenty of sleep, my kids broke curfew once thinking they wouldn’t get in trouble. That logic changed when they had two weeks on restriction – the alarm never went off again for either of… Read more »

Brigitte
Guest
Brigitte

Sadly, I think it totally depends on the individual kid’s trustworthiness and sense of reponsibility, making it an impossible situation for you. You get to cross your fingers and pray you can last the next 13 years or so, when the youngest (hopefully) goes off to college . . where you still worry, but you no longer have any control over it.

Jackie
Guest
Jackie

For you it’s the start of something you will need to carry on 6 additional times. For me it was easy! I had one son. He enjoyed staying home as much as we did due to always being gone for sports and or school. Blakes curfew was 10 PM Sunday night through Thursday (school nights) and Friday and Saturday it was 12 AM. In Texas you are lucky because the state has a self imposed curfew of 12 AM on the weekends and I want to say 10 or 11 during the week. You will have to check with the… Read more »

Andee
Guest
Andee

School nights = 10:00 PM
Friday and Saturday Junior Year = 12:00
And Senior Year = 1:00AM. They have to come in an kiss me good night if I am not up.

Good luck!

jkb
Guest
jkb

I never had a curfew, but I rarely, if ever, came home after 11pm. I just had to let my parents know where I was/who I was with. They trusted me to not stay out too late. My sister on the other hand…she was crazy, and probably really could have used a strict curfew with consequences. I think really that it depends on the kid. The no curfew thing totally worked for me, but my sister got brought home by the cops more than once after being caught out at 2 am so clearly that strategy didn’t work for her.… Read more »