Should kids have a curfew? The answer to that question is an unequivocal and resounding yes. While that doesn't mean children in all age groups should have the same curfew restrictions, it does mean that all parents the world over are responsible for setting, as well as monitoring and enforcing, curfews for their children.
Each curfew should be age appropriate, allowing for some freedom at the age of 13 and continuing to broaden until the child has turned 18. If your child still lives at home after the age of 18, however, parents are still well within their rights to enforce some restrictions.
Before the age of 13, a child is too young to be attending events alone, especially those that occur after dark. Except for the occasional sleepover with friends, young children should never attend events that require being separated from parents, guardians or older siblings overnight.
Add a half hour each year to the curfew if your child is mature enough to handle it. Cap this at a 9 PM curfew on school nights and 11 PM on weekends. By the age of 16, kids should be allowed to go places without adults as long as they're events that you consider safe.
Why Enforce Juvenile Curfews?
The first job a parent is instilled with is the safety of the child. In keeping their child safe, it is also the parents' job to teach their child to recognize the difference between good and bad and right and wrong, and to understand how to be responsible. Not only do children look to their parents for this guidance, they also look to their parents for reassurance, acceptance, security, support and encouragement, all the creature comforts and also for friendship.
Being a parent sometimes means enforcing rules and regulations that a child may not deem necessary or fair. Forcing a teenager to stay within a designated curfew is one rule that all parents should follow. A teenage curfew is, in essence, a safety net for your child as she learns to become more responsible and aware of the workings of the outside world.
Because there is a fine line between being responsible and being irresponsible, parents have their work cut out for them, especially if they have not been disciplinarians up to this point. As adults, we know the dangers that may await teenagers in the wee hours of the morning. We've all heard from our own parents that "nothing good happens after 11 PM" Some of us have discovered firsthand how true that phrase can be.
It's not easy to make an often moody and temperamental teenager understand parental reasoning. Keep in mind that, as the parent, you know what you're talking about because you're working from experience, while your child is working on a learning curve. Don't let your child bully you into changing your opinion on whether a curfew should be enforced. You are the parent; setting up and enforcing a curfew is your job.
Dangers of Breaking Curfew
While all children seek acceptance, reassurance and security from their parents, it's essential that children also understand the most important job their parents hold is safety patrol. The best way to find a happy medium with your child is to sit down with your child and explain how much you love him and then point out the reasons why a curfew needs to be enforced. Keep the channels of communication open, but never default to your child's way of thinking to make things easier on either of you. A curfew that is too lenient or is not enforced is a waste of time for everyone concerned.