"As children grow older, parents must give them greater freedom, including greater freedom to make mistakes. "

To Curfew or Not To Curfew

Question

My 18 yr old daughter attends college but lives at home. She makes stellar grades and is attending on a merit scholarship. She does chores around the house. She is a responsible person. My question is this. Should she have a curfew? The only late hour event she attends is gaming club at the college. They play classic games. The only reason I am concerned is because we live in a city where the crime rate is very high, one of the highest in the US, and she drives home alone. I know she will follow the curfew if I set one, but should I?

Answer

It sounds as though you have been very consistent in your daughter's upbringing thus her character as a now young adult. If your daughter is currently attending said event and coming in at a decent hour per your house rules, then I see no need to set an additional curfew. She has obviously shown herself to be responsible and mature in her decision making so there is no pressing reason to assume the opposite will be true when attending nighttime events. If outside concerns of safety are weighing on your heart, as they do with most parents these days, I would suggest equipping her in awareness and safety when out alone at night, as well as model these when you are out together with your daughter. I can still hear the words of my own father when I am out anywhere, day or night, "Pay attention and be aware of your surroundings, have your keys ready, and lock your doors as soon as you get in the car." All still relevant strategies. Other suggestions would include: taking a friend along, parking in a well lit area, driving the most populated and well lit routes, not making unnecessary stops, having a full tank of gas and a full charge on your phone. These are all very simple yet huge ways we can teach our children to be responsible when navigating life without mom and dad. I would also suggest that while a curfew per se isn't necessary, having a plan is. It isn't too much to ask where she will be and request she keep you informed if the plan changes. This will remain true as she gets older and possibly married. Informing your loved ones of where you are and checking in from time to time is an expression of love for the other person. I think a good many folks miss that perspective.
We cannot protect our children from every misdeed in this world but we can share wisdom and insight to better prepare them for life away from our homes. Equipping your daughter will provide quality lessons that will last a lifetime.

Stacey Watts - Dean of Coaching
swatts@happilyparenting.com

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