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Curfew for Teens

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Berkeley Parents Network > Advice > Teens, Preteens, & Young Adults > Curfew for Teens


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Turning 18 in senior year

Oct 2011

I was wondering how other folks handled their child turning 18 during senior year, and what home rules changed or didnt? mine seems to think it will be anything goes, as much as we say it wont. what have others done about curfews, alcohol, and other choices that kids are making at 18 but parents arent approving of? what about consequences, did they change? were they enforced? i know we're in for some trouble and wanted to hear how others approached this time. thanks ! anonymous


Think about what leverage you have, and use it as well as you can. Do you pay for your child's entertainment, car, car insurance, gas, cell phone, computer time, etc.? Well, if they're old enough to do whatever they want, they're old enough to pay for all that.

It would be great if you could talk this out beforehand. You could write down the cash value of what you provide (the easy stuff, I wouldn't calculate intangibles) and say, this is the cost of being an adult. If you're not willing or able to pay for this, then you'll need to abide by house rules or there will be consequences.

So I'd say, if your child violates a curfew, you calmly say the next morning that the cell phone goes away for a week.

I bet your school counselors will have some suggestions--you're not the only folks dealing with this. glad my kids graduate at 17


My son turned 18 in senior year (and my now 16 yo will also). My son(now 20 and away at college) was not difficult so we didn't have to struggle too much... If he was living in our house and we were supporting him, then our rules were the rules he had to observe. We were lenient w/ curfew, but he had to call us and check in if he was staying out later then agreed upon time. Once he moved out, even though we are still supporting him he could make his own decisions. I like to think that our firmness during high school taught him to be sensible on his own...so far so good. Good luck. anon mom
Both of my kids turned 18 during their senior years - one quite early in October and the other in January. Not much changes, and it sounds like you are saying that to your child and need to continue, maybe amplify it. Legally, very little changes for them. Alcohol is still illegal. I can only think of two things: one, if they are new drivers, as my son was, the restrictions on who they can drive with disappear. Two - and this is worth repeating - any legal trouble they get into, they will face the full force of the law as adults, not minors.

Our kids had the same curfews, the same rules about drugs and alcohol. Those rules were focused on their health and safety and their ability to do their job, which was succeed in high school. They are still financially dependent and as such owe us the respect of following our rules in our home. But I won't lie, there were lapses and boundary pushing and we tried to not loose all perspective while still standing firm behind our principles. We did do some things to honor and acknowledge the milestone. But they are mainly about responsibility, rather than license. Registering to vote was a big deal. Males have to register for selective service - at least if they will be applying for college and student aid - and that led to some interesting discussions. Does your child have a checking account and debit card? If not, they can start on that, if so, is there a way to give them more freedom/responsibility with their money?

It's a tough balance, you want them to grow and to acknowledge the milestone, but practically very little changes. The real change is with high school graduation and what comes after, not the birthday. From a mom whose oldest turns 21 in 3 days - now there's a birthday with some real impact! been there


My son turned 18 over the summer and he is still at home and is a senior in high school . Nothing has changed. He has the same restrictions, same rules to follow, etc., as he did when he was younger. My feeling is that he lives in my home, under my rooftop, I pay the bills, buy the food, etc., etc. He is still under my charge and is my responsibility, so he needs to follow my rules. And, yes, we have argued about this (his wanting to smoke pot at home now that he's 18, stay out later, etc.), but I have stuck to my guns about this and he knows he can't. I think the problem is that parents cave in and allow their children to make the rules, do what they want, and yet, we still have all the legal and financial responsibilities. I would say, ''don't cave in''. been there

Teen curfew for an 18-year old son

Feb 2011

What is an appropriate curfew for an 18 yr. old boy? My son is a senior in h.s. and after he turned 18, he feels that he should have more liberties, i.e. staying out until 3 or 4:00 a.m. on weekends. He has been going to teen clubs in S.F. which close at 3:00 a.m. He drives his friends to these clubs or they take BART. When he asks ''Why?'' can't he stay out late, I have no answer, other than I want him home safe. That does not go over very well. Presently, his curfew is 2:00 a.m. which he hates. I am surprised that the other kids' parents allow such a late curfew. He is a good kid and his grades are above average. It is gotten so difficult negotiating every weekend, he is upset and I am frustrated. Please help with ideas, insights, information, anything is appreciated. regina


Even though your son is 18, if he lives in your house, he has to follow your rules. You don't really have to give a reason, though you may get along better if you do! My kids have a curfew because I can't sleep well until they come home. If this is true for you, then say that. I would make it midnight myself! And perhaps occasional exceptions till later, even 3 or 4, for a special event. By the way, I used to ask my son to wake me up when he got home because I would often fall asleep and then wake up and be unsure whether he had come home and finally go to his room to check, which really disturbed my sleep. Then I put an alarm clock outside my bedroom door set to the time of his curfew and told him to turn it off when he came home. This works really well--if the alarm goes off I know he has not come home in time and I can start worrying! (Of course, he could come home, turn it off, and leave again, but no system is perfect...) Still the boss
You probably have some bargaining chips if you want to play hardball. You could stop giving him money. Take away his computer when he isn't doing homework. Put limits on cell phone use. Or take the door off his room. But I don't recommend any of that. I suggest you have a discussion with him about the pros and cons of staying up late. Get in touch with the other parents and see what they say. Are you sure he is at nightclubs? Maybe he is really out with a girl and you should be talking about condoms. After you have had the discussion, just let him do what he wants. There is no way to win this battle. If you actually get him to come home at an earlier hour, he will resent you and make your life miserable in other ways. Parents don't really have control over their kids once they get to middle school. I suggest that you keep complimenting him on his grades or whatever else he does well, and give up the rest. Sanon
how about this: He's living in your house, you are supporting him, therefore he must follow your rules. My son is now 20 and a college student in another state. When he's at home he's expected to communicate where he's going and when he'll be back. He's generally expected to be home by midnight and to text if he's going to be later. He's expected to respond promptly if I text him. We put this in the context of our concern for his safety and courtesy to other members of household. So far he's been agreeable to our policy. He hasn't been out past 2am, he's generally back about 12am and has communicated if he'll be later with an updated eta. imho, bad things happen in the early am hours. other people with poor impulse control who have consumed too much alcohol or drugs are out either looking for victims or not paying attention to the impacts of their actions. also a parent

Curfew for 18 yo, living at home

August 2009

I have a question regarding setting a curfew for our 18 yo son. He will be living at home while he attends the local community college. I recognize that he is an ''adult'' and yet it seems reasonable that there be house rules. He is very responsible in almost every area of his life. He just is a night owl, and thinks nothing of returning home at 3am and 4am. There is no alcohol, drugs, promiscuity, etc....just hang time with friends. We get tired when we wake up when he returns, so it is a problem for my husband and me. Any suggestions? Am I being too rigid?


I was having the same issues. Though my daughter will be leaving in Sept., we had the whole summer stretching out before us and I had to put my foot down. So, here's where we're at: weeknights 12:30, weekends open. She needs to tell me where she is and what time she will be home, even on the weeknights. Part of it is for safety reasons and part for my own sanity (and sleep). Good luck! anon
I have an 18 yr old who lives away from home now (which I am really happy about since we had lots of struggles about rules). I think that as the parent and ''landlord'' you do have the right to establish house rules (like wash your dishes when you're done, no smoking in the house, etc). I don't think you have a right to establish a curfew for him, but I do think you have the right to set up a system so you are not woken up every night! So if there is no way for him to get in without waking you up, then essentially yes, you are going to set a curfew, but don't describe it to him that way :) And perhaps have some flexibility re weekends? Good Luck!

High schoolers - going out on weekend nights

August 2008

My 15 y.o. son and I are arguing about the terms and conditions of his going out on weekend nights, particularly on what his curfew should be. He snuck out of the house after we were asleep, one night, planning to return home un- noticed, before we awoke. I would really appreciate a discussion on what others have set as curfew for their high schoolers for the each of the ages (14-17 y.o., i.e., different times for different ages), as well as, related experiences and suggestions. anonymous


The perennial teen-parent battle.

What to do:

Pick a reasonable time (and keep it in your head)...10pm....midnight...whenever? Ask them what they think and why. Ask them to be specific.

Let them know how important their safety is to you...and that you think about them AND all the other people that make things more or less safe.

Let them know you trust them but that its your job to be the parent, and that no one ever died from too early a curfew.

Let them know that the sneaking out isn't a good idea. Its a form of lying and it shows that their judgement isn't quite ready yet.

Ask them to suggest a time and a plan for communicating...cell phone check in, wanting to know where they are, are parents around or not, drinking etc.

And try to have this conversation with other people...or turn it over to somebody you both like and trust.

Its amazing how much better things go when more than two people are witnessing the conversation.

If talking about it is too hard...try writing letters back and forth...its goofy, low pressure, and works wonders...takes a lot of fight out of the battle, and you can save your energy for crazy hair cuts, sex, and the ''its my life..let me fail'' battles.

Be the parent they need, not the parent they ''like''. Good luck.


You didn't say what time your son's curfew is now, but I would be really upset if my child snuck out in the middle of the night and I would come down hard on that. That said, I would also try and work out with him what is an acceptable time to return home on weekend nights. For my daughter (17) it's usually between 12 and 1am depending on what, where, and with whom. At 15 she wasn't going out with friends on the weekends much so it wasn't an issue. She would just go over to someone's house and sleepover. I assumed that they just stayed at the house and didn't go out. I guess that might be a difference between girls and boys. You don't say where you live or what your son does when he's out (not that we REALLY know), but I don't think that Berkeley is all that safe at night. I grew up in NYC where I stayed out really late as a teenager and felt fine. Here the streets are dark and there aren't many people out late at night so that worries me. Also, there is a lot of violence these days...things to think about when you are talking about this with your son. Good luck! anon
I too am the parent of a 15 year old and struggling with similar issues but this is how I look at it. What are the things that are ok for teenagers to do that happen after 11 pm? My only answer is virtually nothing. Based on that and the concept that every year until he is 18 we will move the curfew later, our hs soph's curfew is 10:30 pm. That gives us 1 1/2 hours of leeway until he is 18 - as I consider midnight the latest until he is on his own. For special occasions (prom, etc) he can request an exception ahead of time. Mom
our city (Walnut Creek) has a curfew for under 18's of 10 pm on weekday nights and 12 pm on weekend nights. That is what we have used, though it hasn't stopped our son from sneaking out.

He is now 17.5 and behaving well, so we now often let him stay out later when he asks (that was something he really wanted and we said following the house rules was a precondition for that). We still do not let him spend the night places where there is no adult (we talk to parents) as it seems like that's when the most trouble happens--unsupervised parties. He has been beaten up and robbed and had some close calls. It's very hard... glad to have an almost grown up teen!


Well. The discussion would be moot until he wasn't grounded anymore. No matter when his curfew is, he snuck out of the house with the intention of fooling you and getting away with it...he shouldn't be going out at all for several weeks.

After that, I'd set his curfew at a time convenient to me -- certainly no later than 11 or 12 on a weekend night, and I would not let him stay at a friend's house unless he had previously cleared the plan -- specifically, I'd want to SEE him on any evening when his plans changed abruptly; the sudden urge not to go home after all is often a sign of partying.

The sneaking out would drive me mad -- a kid I can't trust can't be trusted out on a Friday or Saturday night, at all. Berkeley Parent


My 16 yr old has a 10:30 curfew on weekend nights and 8 pm on weeknights. I'd also be curious to hear what other parents are doing. I'm lucky, in that he understands this is about safety and hasn't given me a problem about it. Diana
I'd like to know how people enforce curfews. I can't stay up as late as my kids. And if I tell my 17 year old he's grounded, what's to stop him from going out? He already doesn't get any money from me, only food. I can take away occasional rides and the cell phone (that I pay for). I can make it uncomfortable for him to sleep in. Changing the locks, or telling him to live elsewhere, would be drastic, considering that he's not being defiant, just showing bad judgment (and not gotten into any actual trouble doing it). I'm upset but feel helpless.
Don't feel helpless. Don't get upset. You are the parent.

You are going to be uncool when you impose limits and you have to live with that. You do have leverage over your child - including food and cellphone - and a major part of it is your goodwill. You might as well start now as wait until your kid IS in trouble. I was tricked by having one kid who was never a problem and then the second pushed the limits more. You should certainly make it uncomfortable for your kid to disobey you - if necessary with a bucket of water when they sleep in after a non-permitted late night. You should also begin by sitting down and work out clearly what the ground rules are - first for yourself, then in consultation with your kid. Talk to the parents of friends. Get their landline numbers. Get your kid's friends' cellphone numbers so you can embarassingly call around and ask for your child. And talk to your kid, explain what you're doing and why and let them have input (but you make the rules). Fiona


Curfew for 10th grader

Nov 2001

I'd like to hear what other parents of teen girls ( 10th grade, or 16 yr. olds) do about curfews - both for weekends and weekdays. I have always insisted on knowing ( or tried to know) where my daughter is if she goes out with friends, with whom, and, if visiting a friend's house, confirm that a parent will be home. My daughter finds all this too restrictive. I'd be interested to hear how other parents feel. Thanks, Suzanne


I've never given a curfew because I don't let her just go "hang." I have always insisted on knowing ( or tried to know) where my daughter is if she goes out with friends, with whom, and, if visiting a friend's house, confirm that a parent will be home. And I try to find out what they're doing, therefore how long she needs to be out. And she should call me if plans or locations change. So far, it's worked fine. She grouches, but puts up with it.

I also followed this procedure with my son, who is now a senior. I'm amazed that now I let him stay out until all hours (2 or 3 a.m.) and even all night. The reasons are that he's a male, he's 18, he's been responsible all these years in telling me where he is, and finally, I know, like and trust his friends and their families. In other words, I feel he's earned privileges. I'm not sure what I'll do with my daughter a few years from now. Barbara


Curfew for just-turned 16

July 2000

I have a just turned 16 year old son. He has a curfew of 12 AM, and I want a parent to be home when he goes out at night to other people's houses. He can go to "parties" if parents are home. (My son says these are not parties). None of the friends (girls or boys) he is currently hanging out with seem to have a curfew at all. (According to my son the other parents just need to know where the kids are. I know that the kids are not always honest about where they really are. I realize that this is very typical behavior for teens.) He is a good kid (but has done some "experimenting" in the past) and gets great grades. Am I off base here? I have tried to meet the parents of several of these friends, but they don't seem interested. I am wondering what the curfew is of other just turned 16 year old kids.


In response to curfews for "just 16" teens: My just 16 daughter is very independent, and responsible. She is actually working at 2 great jobs this summer. HOWEVER Her curfew is 12, and she may not spend the night or attend parties at someone's house unless there are parents there. She cannot spend the night alone in our house either. I too have determined that other teens her age do not have curfews; many parents do not even check to see if kids arrive home safely. Last winter my daughter was asked to baby sit another 15 year old whose parents were out of town, and the kid was TOO scared to spend the weekend alone, so my daughter was asked to keep her company!! My daughter thinks I am "Psycho" with my rules.... signed -Mary (7/00)
Our 17.5 yr old curfew is 11:00pm except for "special occasions" then 12:00. Their driver's licenses have a midnight curfew! On school nights we expect 10:00pm with occasional negotiated exceptions.
Roger (7/00)
The 18-year-old has a midnight curfew on the weekends. If he is staying over at a friend's, he has to stay put after midnight. Some of his friends do not have curfews. Some have 1:30 am. The ones who drive have midnight curfews. Special exceptions can be arranged in advance, for instance a concert in the City that runs late, where I know how he's getting home and with whom. Most of his friends are not supposed to go to a friend's house unless there is a parent there, but this is hard to enforce and sometimes doesn't get enforced. The 15-year-old doesn't really have a formal curfew since he does not really go out on the weekends. If he goes out, usually a parent picks him up, and the pickup is before midnight. Anon.
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