It is innate for parents to always worry about their child despite their age. Sometimes, parents unknowingly treat and discipline their child like they’re still babies despite them being all grown up. Pre-adolescents and adolescents need the freedom to assert themselves, but at the same time, they are given some limits and guidelines because after all, they still have immature mental processes and oftentimes can be impulsive in their decision making. One concrete example of setting limits to your children is establishing a household curfew. The trick in setting curfews is to find the equilibrium between balance and fairness to achieve its optimal and desired effect which is to keep the child safe but at the same time, teaching them independence.
Cities and municipalities in the US have set juvenile curfews to keep those under the age of 18 out of the streets by around 11 pm to midnight. It is done to curb juvenile offenses hopefully; however, based on current studies, implementing the juvenile curfew policy does more harm than good. According to Michael Dennis, PhD, “Curfews are an important tool in helping to manage a teen and keep them away from risky situations.” For one, it removes a powerful deterrent which is the presence of crowds and people on the streets since juvenile curfews would also encourage adults to rush home especially older siblings, parents, caregivers and other relatives with minors. Second, it adds strain to the already tensed relationship of the community and law enforcers. Third, it might lower incidence of minor offenses such as vandalism, pickpocket, etc. but not on gun violence. Due to these reasons, anti-curfew groups are urging policymakers to take a more in-depth look at these regulations. For parents, they should also reflect on specific points before implementing their household curfews.
Setting the curfew in an autocratic manner
Parents sometimes set rules without consulting or giving input from the child. It is recommended by experts to allow children the opportunity to bargain and negotiate. By giving them the chance to settle, it helps promote to them the importance of real negotiation skill – listening and considering the different views on specific issues and the ability to articulately and efficiently communicate their thoughts and opinions respectfully.
Rebellion against authority
Children who are handed with curfews out of the blue without any inputs from them are more likely to resort to resistance. The unexpressed anger towards the implementation of the curfew may lead to self-destructive behaviors and angry defiance. The purpose of the curfews is to help them develop responsibility and independence which might not be achieved when this type of parenting control leads to a series of rebellion. In the end, it defeats the purpose of the curfew and may be a hindrance in the maturity level of the youngster. “Negotiating a flexible curfew can train him to responsibly manage increased social independence soon to come.’ suggests Carl E Pickhardt Ph.D.
If the primary reason of parents in implementing curfew is to keep teens from engaging in dangerous, unsafe and possibly criminal activities, then household curfews might not be the solution that the parents are looking for. If the teen decides to participate in illegal and harmful actions, she/he can quickly do it at any time of the day up until his/her curfew. “If your goal is to keep your teen as safe as possible and to encourage them to make good choices, discuss their plans with them, and come to an agreement on how they will check in with you about time and whereabouts. ” says Dr. Cynthia Edwards M.D. Remember, teens who are decided to do something will merely find a way to sneak out while still maintaining their curfews.