Not long after Heather and I were married, Andrew and Chandler were getting old enough to begin pushing the envelope that the freedom of having a car brings. Having a car allowed them to come home without having to ask for a ride. Getting out of bed to pick up a kid is not something I relished so this part of having a teen driver was great. However, having a teen driver also opens the door to staying out late, something that should be a concern for any parent.
The negotiation process for a curfew started with my sons opening bid outside of any rational time for a high school kid (1 a.m., seriously). My response to this first offer was something that my wife grew up hearing all of the time, “nothing good happens after midnight” I explained to my boys. Although a phrase Heather dreaded as a teen, I seemed to have developed some real credibility as a parent with these words. However, there really is no hard and fast rule and some places require earlier curfews that others.
When I was in high school, my best friend was Dante Fratta, a foreign exchange student from Argentina. In my hometown of Columbia Falls, Montana, a loud siren screams out every evening at 10 p.m. This signifies the evening curfew that requires all unaccompanied child under 18 to be home. Dante was absolutely astonished that such a norm had been established in this town with a siren to boot. In Parana, Argentina where he grew up, it was common for high school kids to stay out until 5 or 6 a.m. This was a phenomenon my parents simply could not believe.
Kids see the curfew as a way to push the parental envelope. As one article I came across explains, curfews should be seen as a safety issue and not an oppressive rule. The article also lists a number of considerations for creating an appropriate curfew for your kids. These include how far they have to travel to get home, the general safety of the community where you live, how many bars they have to go by to get home, etc. Each family and each community is different so no hard and fast rule can fit.
In our house, we have established the same rule that Heather had in place when she was a teenager. The curfew for Andrew and Chandler correspond with their grade in school. As a sophomore, Chandler has to be home by 10 p.m. As a junior in high school, Andrew’s curfew is 11 p.m. When they become a junior and a senior, their curfews will be 11 and 12 respectively. This 12 a.m. curfew is likely to be in force as long as they live under our roof because, as my father-in-law Randy Craig is famous for saying, “nothing good happens after midnight.”