by Lori Ramsey – real life parenting with a mom with 6 kids
There is no set rule for naming a time for your child’s curfew. You need to look at the bigger picture. Decide on the curfew based on age, day of week, level of trust, and the event. We teach our children by giving them more and more freedom and that includes the curfew.
Be a good parent and do not give your young teen a hardy leeway on the curfew. Maybe you feel your fourteen-year-old is trustworthy, but the fact is, they are fourteen. Younger teens need greater boundaries than older teens. Start teens with an early curfew, and each year add to it so that by the time they are eighteen, or out of the house, they can decide the time.
Day of Week
It makes sense to have an early curfew on school nights. Unless the event such as a sports event, or something special, make sure your teen is home in plenty of time to get enough sleep. Children need at least eight hours of sleep. This should be a strict rule because if your child receives enough sleep they will do better with their school work and that should be top priority for the curfew.
Level of Trust
All parents want to say they trust their child implicitly, but face the truth, not all children should be trusted. You know your child best and you should decide of their curfew based on the level of trust you have with them. For example, you may allow an older teen to stay out longer if you have greater trust. If a teen gets into trouble, keep tight reins with an earlier curfew.
Obviously, if there is a school event that keeps them out later, you must bend on the curfew to allow them time to finish the event. (sports, performances, field trips, etc.) Sometimes a teen may ask to do things that aren’t school oriented but could keep them out well past their curfew time, such as a concert or performance on a school night. You need to decide if it’s worth your child losing sleep, if they are trustworthy, and if they will have proper chaperone (especially if they are a younger teen.
Decide along with your spouse (if they are in the picture) about the curfew. Perhaps start with a ten PM curfew for younger teens and move up a half an hour to an hour for each year older they become. Set the curfew per their good behavior. (For example, if they came in on time and didn’t get into any trouble during their sixteenth year, increase their curfew to say midnight when they turn seventeen.)