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The Curfew Dilemma: When Your Kids Are Home From College


Curfews for college kids

So, your teen/young adult is home again after having been away in college for a full year, and it’s time to think about managing a curfew … you’re back in that saddle again. They’re home … you don’t know what the rules are … what do you do about enforcing a curfew??

This one is a bit tenuous at best, as you’ve already given your blessing of independence by sending them off to college, and now if feels like you might just be stripping it away (just a bit) by re-discussing a curfew. Do you treat him like he’s your child again in your house, or do you treat him like a young adult who can make mature decisions while living in your house? Tough one, for sure.

I always grew up with the mantra, When in my house, my rules. Up until the very day I got married, my boyfriend, then fiancé, then husband-to-be of 24 years slept in a separate room. I was okay with that, strangely even comforted by the division of space. But here I am with a young adult at home, and I don’t know what the right answer is in navigating the next phase of parental decisions.

Lesson to be learned: There is no right answer. So, in the beginning of our daughter’s stay back at home, there were no rules, we just went with the “go with the flow” model. That worked for some time. But, as she stayed out later and we fretted staying up waiting for her return, we had to have a talk on some guidelines.

Guidelines ….that’s a far better word then rules. It feels more cooperative and collectively discussed. (I highly recommend you use this word a lot in parenting!)

So, guidelines turned into, “Call us if you are out past a certain time, so we know you’re okay and what time we can expect you home.” Expectation is everything. It gives us peace of mind, comfort, arrival expectations…it shifts the dynamic of parents vs. kids to an even playing field of working together.

What did we learn? Guidelines and expectations are the key to parental comfort and to giving your adult teen the independence they have earned and desire. It is a win-win when discussed with a mature tone and a pragmatic angle.

Am I an expert? Good gosh, no…But as a family we are moving forward with mutual respect and love; it’s the best outcome I could have ever hoped for in life.

Talk to your kids/young adults as you would to your husband, peers, and colleagues. When treated like adults, they will return the respect and act like adults.

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