ADVERTISEMENT

When your teen graduates from high school, does she still need a curfew?

Parent advice:

She’s 18, an adult and deserves the right to be treated as such. I’d prefer that her first curfew-free days (and nights) be while she is still living at home. If you keep the restraints on until she leaves for college, there might be a temptation for her to cut loose as soon as she gets on campus and go totally off the rails. Let her experience her freedom. Show her you trust her. That’s a good lesson for her now and for the future.

– Bill Hageman

And as many parents have said/figured out, anything that can happen at 2 a.m. can happen at 2 p.m. You have, it is hoped, raised a level-headed, responsible young woman who is about to be living away from you. Trust her and her instincts. As long as she is not disrupting your home by making a lot of noise when she returns, or worrying you if you did not know that she was not coming home for dinner that night, etc., she needs to live her own life.

– Dodie Hofstetter

I can see a curfew when there’s school or work the next day, especially school. You want the kid to graduate high school, after all. Over the summer? I’d slowly relax the rules. You don’t have to come out and tell him or her they’re free to party all night, but make less of a fuss when he or she comes in at 3 a.m. That said, insist they maintain their usual schedule the next day so they learn what it’s like to operate on zero to three hours of sleep. (That said, I might not let the teen drive or operate machinery.)

– Bill Daley

Expert advice:

In this case, both the kid and the parent are right, said psychologist Carl Pickhardt, author of “Surviving Your Child’s Adolescence: How to Understand, and Even Enjoy, the Rocky Road to Independence” (Jossey-Bass).

“The kid should be asking for that freedom. However, so long as the kid lives at home, they do have to respect the tolerances of parents, at least in terms of what the schedule is going to be,” Pickhardt said.

This isn’t so much about control as it is courtesy. If, rightly or wrongly, you get stressed out about your child’s safety when she’s out at 2 a.m., you might say, “We can only tolerate you being out until X hour, and then we need to have you home, and that’s not a distrust of you, it’s our own comfort (level).”

Generally at this stage, what works best is a flexible curfew, Pickhardt said, with room for exceptions as long as they’re discussed ahead of time.

“To me, a curfew is a prohibition of adolescence,” he said. “You always want to give your kids the protection of your prohibitions, and you want to give your kid the protection of your curfew because a lot of times their friends are saying, ‘Come on, let’s stay out until 4 a.m.,’ and the kid doesn’t have the social courage to say, ‘I’m not really comfortable with that.’ But the kid can say, ‘Yeah, I’d really like to, but my parents make me come home by (midnight).’ ”

Find “The Parent ’Hood” page on Facebook to post your parenting questions and solutions.