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Hello out there! I'm looking for advice on dealing with my 17 year old son (or at least to see that I am not alone in my thinking - as he is positive that I am).

How late of a curfew should a 17 year old be given?

Here's the dilemma:

He is a good kid. We have battled since he's been about 13 since I am the parent in the house (and his father is more kid than adult), and he has friends who's parents basically have 'no rules' - and never have. So, it's been a difficult situation. But, all in all, he is a good kid, and I've known his best friend since they were 5, and he is a good kid - if not a little on the wild side. Unfortunately, my son has not always the most 'honest' of kids. In fact, his new philosophy on that subject is that 'what you don't know, won't hurt you:)' (Which in a parent's case is not necessarily true:) Had it not been for this attitude and lying in the past, this probably wouldn't be the issue that it is.

He has just graduated from high school, but unlike all of his friends who are 18, he won't be 18 until October. Therefore, high school grad or not, he is still a minor. Obviously the car is under our policy, and should something happen - we are still responsible - and that is the basis for the curfew.

His friends may have never had a curfew, but his has always been midnight. He is working right now at a job where they go to work at 4 and get off at 11. He wants to stay out basically until 3 or 4 in the morning - every night - to which my question is - where do even 18 year olds go until 3 or 4 in the morning every night? It's not that I wouldn't be willing to discuss certain plans or events or to extend the curfew until 1 (or even later - for an actual event) - but 3 or 4 I don't understand - and I'm wondering if anyone else does?

What amazes me even more is that he's already been told that when he turns 18, at that point, he will no longer have a curfew. So, we're talking about 3 months. Like a lot of kids, I've heard the threats that 'I'm moving out right away' - which once he really started figuring out how much it cost to do so - he discovered that wasn't really an option (if he wanted to go to college full-time:). He has a partial scholarship (which should he get into trouble, they will yank), and we planned on paying for the rest of the tuition. He's going locally, and wanted to stay in a dorm room - to which I said he'd have to pay for that part himself (as it's more than tuition, and he has room and board here - plus that will pay for an entire year of tuition). My family also started giving him savings bonds when he was very young, and he's got a small nest egg built up. Therefore, he has the ability right now to go to school for 4 years, be able to get out of school at that time - debt free, with his nest egg still in tact plus any amount of money that he saves while working - and where he works will actually reimburse him for the cost of his tuition if he works enough hours (which right now, he refuses to do). A college degree, debt free, plus the ability to have thousands in the bank to start off life with? I wish someone would make me a deal like that:) And four months of staying out until 4 in the morning is more important? Someone please explain this to me.

I am not made of money, but like most parents, I wanted my child to have a better life. I have given up things that I wanted and wanted to do so that he could have a better life. Right now, I am having to deal with legal issues that my husband created, which my son is very aware of - things that have already devastated us, and could completely destroy our entire lives. I am trying to keep things afloat here, but I already have enough to deal with - so I am even more perplexed as to why he would aggravate the situation now. If ever there was a time that I was going to have less patience - it's right this minute - and as a very intelligent child - I don't find this to be that hard to understand.

So, I'm just wondering if anyone has any thoughts on this - and if other parents truly are fine with their kids strolling in the door at 4 in the morning?

Advice welcome!
Pinkpiglet...Donna asked for [U]any advice[/U] so I shared what had worked for me. I didn't ask you to agree with me in fact I said everyone is different.

Maybe you wouldn't be so quick to judge if you had walked in my shoes. When my oldest daughter was 13 she developed an eating disorder. While she was in counseling the psychologist suggested I loosen the reigns up a bit. I was extremely strict up till that point. But I guess when you see your child struggle with something like that your perspective changes. I never let my daughters stay out that late on school nights at that age. And if they ever broke the trust we had developed by not being honest or withholding something from me there were consequences for sure. That only happened once that I can recall. Usually when they stayed out that late they were at a bonfire or camping. Oh I am not so naive to think that drinking didn't happen. It did and I knew about it but it wasn't until later...maybe 16. My theory is better to get a taste of it earlier rather than waiting and then go crazy when they are out on their own. My 19 year old rarely drinks and she just finished her freshman year at college. She may have an occasional wine cooler. My older daughter will be 21 in several weeks and does, on occasion, drink.

I guess I thought I should reward them in some way for being such great kids when they were younger. Both of them were on either honor roll or high honor roll the whole way through high school. Involved in all kinds of extracarricular activities so I guess we did something right...jmho ;)
If he finishes work at 11, it is not too much to ask to wind down and chill with his friends for 2-3 hours afterwards. He will be wide awake, there is no early rising to worry about, so it would be a real pain to have to go home to bed straight after work. My advice is to extend his curfew to about 2.30. My motto with my kids was "Choose your battles", and this is one I wouldn't choose to fight the war over. Cheers, Sera

Thanks to everyone that responded. I had an idea of where I thought I should go with this situation, and I guess I wanted to confirm that there was validity to my thinking and that I hadn't maybe overlooked something. Plus I was curious, since according to my son, I'm the only one that thinks this way - if that was true. From what I see, I'm not the only one:) And, having six other friends with kids the exact same age, I've always fallen more in the middle between 3 who are more strict and 3 who are less strict. What I see here mirrors that and is also evenly divided.

A lot of very good points were brought up. Yes, he is almost 18 and at that time, he will have no curfew. Therefore, in this next 3 months, I'm more than willing to make some compromises for this transition. Friday and Saturday nights, I have no problem extending the curfew, and I'm also willing to do so with one of the work nights, but not every night. There's a reason why it's called a 'work' night - and most adults do not get the opportunity to have 2 to 3 hours every night after work for themselves:) And if he's wide awake, he may want to try getting up a little earlier - as he's going to have to do in a few weeks when school starts:) Or, I can find some things for him to do around here which may help tire him out - as he lives here rent free and does virtually nothing in the way of chores (and that was one battle we didn't pursue). Plus, I too, am a parent that doesn't sleep until he comes home - and since I work way more hours than he does - he can deal with wide awake much better than I can with no sleep:) It's not that I can't always fall asleep when he's not here, but I've never allowed myself to do so. I guess I've always seen this scenario play out where I don't ensure that he got home, and he doesn't someday, and we don't know about it until sometime the next morning, while he's been lying in a ditch or we could have been looking for him - and I can see myself trying to explain to the police as we're filing a missing person's report how we, as parents, had no clue as to the fact that he never came home:)

Yet, there is one thing that is not going to happen until he is 18. He may be allowed to stay out - but his car will not be. My personal belief is that there is no reason to be out this late this many times a week. It's playing with fate and asking for trouble. Good kid, bad kid, drinks, doesn't drink, drugs, no drugs - it makes really no difference in that it only takes a split second. If they stay out 30 days in a row to an unreasonable hour, and 29 days they watch movies at a friend's - but the 30th day they decide to have alcohol, get in the car, drive drunk, and heaven help us, hurt themselves, their friends, or some innocent person on the street - days 1-29 mean absolutely nothing. Everyone will live with that the rest of their lives, but no one more than the parents that allowed it. Kids are supposed to make mistakes, and they will - and parents are supposed to understand that - and have guidelines to help prevent serious lapses. And we also have the right, as parents, to raise our kids as we think best, and as pointed out - everyone is a little different. The law, however, is very clear - 17 is a minor, period. We also have a legal curfrew for 16 year olds here - and it's 11. So someone with the authority to make that decision doesn't think that past 11 is appropriate, and they base these decisions based on the statistics. I guess for 17 year olds - it's up to the parents. So, allowing him to stay out is one thing, but allowing him to be out with a vehicle that in a split second could become a lethal weapon (when the law says he can't even own it, yet) - would make me irresponsible. And that's certainly not an example that I want to set for my son. Since his best friend's parents have no problem with this, they can provide their car:)

It's strange that I was the one that posted asking for advice, but there were a couple of things that I read that really concerned me so I'm gonna offer some humble comments of my own.

The comment that really concerned me was the mom who mentioned something about knowing that her son drinks and smokes pot, and I think there was a reply later on that said if that parent had known for a fact that was going on - their kid wouldn't be going out. I whole heartedly agree with that. While I think that it's great that there is such a close relationship that your son actually tells you that he does these things - I can only respond by saying that's a situation that certainly has the potential for disaster. Every drug addiction and every drinking problem start somewhere - and they usually don't start as problems. Unfortunately, there's no meter or test that we can give each kid that will tell us which one is going to sow wild oats and which one is going to develop a life long addiction that they're going to struggle with. And even if you believe that it is for recreation and experimental right now, six months from now it may not be. I know that trying to step in now with a non-tolerance policy would be difficult, and I certainly don't have an easy fix answer to that one - but it won't be as difficult as trying to correct fun turned dangerous later on. Remember that by the time you know it's become a problem, he still won't. It can take years, if ever, to even get a person to the point of admitting that they have a problem, so I'd be very careful with that one.

The other comment that really caught my attention was about the 14 year old that stays out until 2. My first thought was - wow! But then it occurred to me that I don't think it was ever mentioned 'where' he was until 2. And then I remembered that yes, our son, was allowed at that age to be out that late from time to time too. They used to like to go to laser bowling and to late movies, and I really never had a problem with that. There was no cars involved. We or another parent had to pick them up, and they had no means of going elsewhere - so we knew where they were.

But one night when the kids were staying here at that age, I heard the door open about 2, and I went running to see what was going on. They wanted to go - where? - I have no idea. They didn't get to. But, I came to find out that when they stayed at his best friend's house - well, sure they could go out at 2. His parents - they're cool - they didn't care - shoot, they didn't even know:) I wasn't surprised, either - I often wondered if there was anything these people would object to (and due to the length of this already - I won't go into a few of the things they allowed their daughter to do - which I have yet to find anyone who thinks I'm not joking when I tell them. Anyway, I've always like the kid, and he learned from an early age that things his parents may have let them do - they weren't going to do here. But his parents allowing anything became my worst nightmare these last four years, and had I had a crystal ball back in kindergarten, I really think I would have tried to encourage our son to develop stronger relationships with other kids who's parents didn't let them do this sort of stuff - so, too lenient, can actually cost them friends too.

Anyway back to the 2 in the morning in the neighborhood - we asked him about this, and he said yes, they rode bikes, and played basketball - and there were a couple of other friends that they'd go back and forth to - all night long. I told him at that point that nothing good was going to come from that. Of course, it became a debate - because he said they weren't doing anything, and I did believe him - but that wasn't the point.

Assume that you hear something outside tonight at 2 in the morning - and you look out and see kids in the street. What are you going to think? Assume you recognize one or all of them - and you know that it's your neighbor's kids. Now, let's assume you get up tomorrow morning and something has been vandalized? What are you going to logically assume?

And two weeks later, that's exactly what happened - except nothing was vandalized. A neighbor heard these kids, looked out - and called the police on them. A squad car came and wanted to know what in the heck they were doing? Luckily, they weren't doing anything, but the officer told them they didn't have any business being out that late - and to get inside. Well, being young and rebellious - someone had to mouth off. He ended up taking them home, telling the next person that opened their mouth he was going to take them in, and he asked to see the parents - who still thought this was no big deal - but freely admitted that they didn't know they were outside. Obviously, he didn't stay there again for a very long time.

The point I'm trying to make, though - is that even allowing your kids to be somewhere they don't really belong, at a time they don't belong, whether they are doing anything or not - you're allowing them to be in a situation where should something happen, they might be blamed for doing something they didn't do. And, you know kids - all it takes is that split second for one to pick up a rock, throw it wrong - never intended to do it - but it happens. Only it wouldn't have happened if they hadn't been there in the first place.

And that's where I totally agree with the comment that your first job is being a parent - not a buddy or a friend. And you can be a parent and still have your kids know that they can come to you with anything. I was not a wild kid - I was the offspring of a totally wild kid:) (my poor gramma). Yet, my mother was very strict (in some areas). She, too, believed in phrases like 'because I said so', 'it's my house, my rules,' - you know. But, her strictness was due more to fear - terror of something bad happening. Understandable, when you lose two children - so, thinking that it always happens to someone else - it doesn't. And like I do joke with my son - I have a job to do - which is to be a parent - part of that is making sure that he's safe, fed, clothed, has shelter, has an education so that he can take care of himself, is as emotionally happy and stable as possible, and to not release a menace into society. So, in doing that job, if he's 25 and needs a therapist - he can sue me, and then he can think about the fact that he's around to sue me - which means I still did something right:)

Anyway, thanks again for taking time out of your day to share your thoughts with me They really did help! And if anyone else has anything to add - feel free:)

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