I think I made a colossal parenting blunder by giving my 15-year-old daughter a 1 am curfew.
In my defence, I often find myself clueless, when it comes to raising a teenager, especially these days when teens seem to be far savvier than I ever was when I was a teen. In fact, I’m more clueless raising a teen than I ever was raising a baby or getting through the toddler years.
This past weekend, as my daughter was heading to a party, she asked, “What time is my curfew?” It was the first time she had asked me this question – she’s only starting to go to parties every weekend with friends – and I didn’t have a clue how to answer, and somehow my mouth worked faster than my brain, which hadn’t exactly processed the question.
“You have to be home by 1 am,” I said, then immediately thought, “Wait. That’s late for a 15-year-old. Can I take that back?” Still, my daughter wasn’t exactly thrilled and responded with, “That’s SO early!”
Early? EARLY? But I stuck to my guns.
My daughter then threw some shade at me – her mother! – on her Instagram page the next day, after posting a photo of her and her friends who went to a movie after the party, using Uber to get to the theatre.
My daughter wrote on her Instagram, “Sorry I had to leave. My fucking 1 am curfew. SMH!” I immediately had to look up what ‘SMH’ meant because I’m old. (SHM, it turns out, means ‘Shake My Head.’) So, of course, being the wonderful mother I am, commented back on her Instagram thread. “So sorry for your fucking 1 am curfew. Want to make it 12 am instead?” My daughter, amazingly, thought my serious response was pretty funny and she commented back, “Noooo Mommy! I love you sooooo much!”
When I was her age, I most definitely had a curfew, and I can tell you that curfew was way earlier than 1 am. I wasn’t allowed a 1 am curfew until I was at least 17-years-old.
But, truthfully, iPhones and Ubers have changed the curfew game. My daughter told me that yes, some of her friends have curfews at 11 pm, but, amazingly, many other of her friends didn’t have a curfew at all!
Those who don’t have any curfews, my daughter explained, had to text their parents throughout the night. Still? Really? No curfew? Are you even the parent of a teenager if you don’t set a curfew? I’m talking about 15-year-olds, not 19-year-olds!
Of course, I worry about my 15-year-old daughter and her friends being out past midnight, because, well, does anything good ever really happen after midnight when it comes to teenagers?
I actually had to set my alarm on my phone for 1 am because I couldn’t (and didn’t want to because I had a six-year-old to take care of the next day) stay up that late. I also demanded that my daughter come into my bedroom when she got home, not just because I wanted to know that she was home safe, but so I could do a ‘sniff test’ to make sure she hadn’t been drinking. Make no mistake, I do not condone underage drinking, but teenagers drinking is a fact.
My daughter made her 1 am curfew and passed the sniff test. The following night, she had another party to go to, which didn’t start until 9 pm, and I had to remind myself that, yes, once upon a time, I didn’t leave the house until 11 pm. But that happened in my late teens, not at 15-years-old! So my daughter was leaving the house just as I was getting into bed for the night with my six-year-old.
Because I thought that 1 am was too late, I made her curfew the next night, for 12:30 am and she made it home on time, and again, passed the sniff test. I think my daughter is well aware that if she didn’t make curfew, there would be stiff repercussions.
The problem with curfews is that there is no universal guide, based on age, to what is an acceptable curfew, especially these days, when almost every 15-year-old has their own phone, and parents can check in on them incessantly.
Also, because of Uber, teenagers these days, at least teenagers who live in a city, don’t have to rely on parents to pick them up. All of them just Uber to and from parties, which is both a blessing and a curse. The blessing is that I don’t have to pick up my daughter at an ungodly hour. The curse is that I worry about her getting home.
In this article, for advice on curfews and teenagers, it says, “For teens between 14 and 16, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends an 8 or 9 pm curfew on school nights and 10 or 11 pm on weekends…”
Well, if a party starts at 9 pm it’s kind of hard to demand that my daughter, who falls between 14 and 16-years-old, be home at 10 pm. Just as the party would be starting, she’d have to leave. The article also states, “You should establish a curfew based on what’s best for your teen and what’s best for your family.”
In my opinion, those are two very different things. What’s best for my family, which includes just my six-year-old, would be for my daughter to be home by 10 pm, since my six-year-old gets up by 6 am and, as I said, I find it quite difficult to stay up past 11 pm nowadays, especially knowing that my six-year-old is going to exhaust me the next day. But why should my 15-year-old daughter not be allowed to have fun, as a teenager, just because her brother is much younger and needs to go to bed early, as do I?
What’s best for my teen, who is generally stressed out during the week with homework, and who also studies ridiculously hard, is that she enjoy her teenage years. She’s supposed to go to parties. She’s supposed to hang out with friends. She’s supposed to have her own social life. And, yes, she’s supposed to have, and make, curfew.
I’ve always said that kids these days act TWO years older than when we were kids, meaning what I was doing at 15, she was doing at age 13, and what I was doing when I was 17, she is doing at age 15.
Mothers of teens: Do you impose a curfew on your teenagers? And, if so, what do you base it on? I could really use some help because I am curfew-clueless.
Tagged under: bedtime,teens,moms of teenagers,parenting teenagers,teenagers and alcohol,communicating with teenagers,parenting advice teenagers,cell phones and teens,teens drinking,tweens becoming teens,raising teens,parents of teens,curfew