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QUESTIONS & ANSWERS:
Teen

Please remember, this column is designed to help the consumer seeking behavioral-health information, and not intended to be any form of psychotherapy or a replacement for professional, individualized services. Opinions expressed in the column are those of the columnist and do not represent the position of other SelfhelpMagazine.com staff.

Question

What is considered a reasonable curfew? My parents are strict but friends' parents are not. It makes it hard for me to "hang out" and maintain my relationships with them. What do you suggest?
I'm a 15 year old female in the 8th grade.

Answer

Curfews really depend on a lot of factors. One of the main factors in determining a reasonable curfew is the level of responsibility of the youth and the level of trust between the youth and parents. Granted, many times parents have pre-conceived ideas about how things "should be" that have nothing to do with their child or teen. Usually these are ideas that are based on their own experiences as a young person or beliefs about how parents "should" raise their children.

If your parents are open to discussion about things like curfew, you may want to discuss with them their expectations for determining curfew. For example, are they basing their decision solely on your age, or is there something you can do to convince them that you are mature enough to handle a later curfew? If they are operating primarily on the basis that you "should" be a certain age before you are "old enough" to have the freedom and responsibility of a later curfew you may be stuck with their decision.

However, if your grades are good, you come home on time at your current curfew and you seldom get into trouble you may want to ask them to give you a chance to prove that you can handle a later curfew. Propose that you try it for a specific period of time and see how it goes. If they go for it, be sure you are always home on time and be where you are supposed to be when you are out. This is how you earn trust and prove that you are capable of handling more freedom.

In some cases you really have a lot of control over the outcome of the curfew decision. Recognize what you can control and what you can't. You can control coming home on time, being honest about your whereabouts when you are out, calling if you are going to be late and asking for a later curfew for special events then sticking to the plan.

You can't control your parents' beliefs and decisions about what their responsibilities are as parents. The truth is that parents who are strict are usually trying to do a good job of protecting their children, not trying to be mean. In some cases they may be unrealistic, but in other cases your friends' parents may be too lax. All cases are different, so try to take control of those things you can and work within the guidelines you and your parents come up with for now. Chances are that you can influence the curfew in the long run by doing so.

3/12/98

LuAnn Pierce, MSW, CMSW
Author of Growing up Sane (in uncertain times)
Seminar Leader Growing Well Adjusted Kids
Editor-in-Cheif Person to Person: Strengthening Youth & Families
Telephone Counselor Affinity Counseling Center
Affinity Books & Resource Center: Your Source for Emotional Wellness

 

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