You arrive home from an evening with your friends. The time is late. You’ve overshot your curfew, and now you must face your parents. You hesitate before going inside. ‘Maybe Dad and Mom have already gone to bed,’ you hope. Slowly you open the door, and there they stand—watching the clock, waiting for an explanation.
DOES the above scenario sound familiar to you? Do you and your parents ever disagree on what constitutes a reasonable curfew? “We live in a pretty safe area,” says 17-year-old Debora, “but I can’t stay out past midnight without my parents panicking.” *
Why can curfews be such a challenge to deal with? Is it wrong to desire greater freedom? How can you cope with a strict curfew?
Curfews can be very frustrating, especially when they seem to cramp your social life. “My curfew really drives me crazy,” says Natasha, 17. “One time my parents knew that I was watching a movie with some friends a few houses away. Still, when I was just two minutes late, they phoned to ask why I hadn’t come home yet!”
A girl named Stacy points out another problem. “I was expected to be home before Mom and Dad went to bed,” she says. “If they had to wait up for me, it meant coming home to completely exhausted, cranky parents.” What then? “They would throw a guilt trip on me,” Stacy says, adding: “This was very frustrating. I couldn’t understand why they wouldn’t just go to bed!” Such strain may cause you to have feelings similar to those of 18-year-old Katie, who says, “I wish my parents would learn to let go, so that I don’t feel like I am pulling away.”
Perhaps you can relate to the feelings of the youths just quoted. If so, ask yourself this question:
Why do I enjoy spending time away from home?
It makes me feel independent.
It helps to relieve stress.
It allows me to be with my friends.
These reasons are quite normal. It’s only natural to want more independence as you grow up, and wholesome diversions can be relaxing. Further, the Bible encourages you to forge positive friendships. (Psalm 119:63; 2 Timothy 2:22) That can be challenging if you’re at home all the time!
How, though, can you enjoy such freedoms when faced with a curfew that seems too restrictive? Consider the following.
Challenge #1: Your curfew makes you feel childish.
“I felt like such a baby having to interrupt everyone else’s evening so that someone could bring me home early,” recalls Andrea, now 21.
What can help: Imagine getting a driver’s license for the first time. In some places the law imposes restrictions on where, when, or with whom you are allowed to drive—at least until a certain age. Would you turn down such a license, arguing: “If I can’t have unlimited freedom, I’d rather not drive at all”? Of course not! You would view getting the license as a great accomplishment.
Likewise, try to see your curfew as a sign of progress—a step in the right direction. Focus, not on the limitations, but on the leeway it gives you. Don’t you have more freedom now than you did when you were younger?
Why this works: A curfew can be more palatable if you view it as an opportunity rather than an obstacle. Handle it well now, and likely you’ll be given more freedom later.—Luke 16:10.
Challenge #2: You can’t understand why your curfew is so early.
Nikki, who at one time struggled with her curfew, says, “I remember thinking that my mom made rules just for the sake of making them.”
What can help: Apply the principle found at Proverbs 15:22, which says: “There is a frustrating of plans where there is no confidential talk, but in the multitude of counselors there is accomplishment.” Calmly discuss the matter with your parents. Try to find out why they picked the time that they did. *
Why this works: Hearing your parents out can be enlightening. “My father told me that Mom couldn’t fall asleep at night until I returned home safely,” says Stephen. “I had never thought of that before.”
Remember: It’s always better to discuss issues calmly than to lash out—which inevitably will have consequences. “I’ve found that if I blow up at my parents,” says Natasha, quoted earlier, “I usually miss out on the next few things that I want to do.”
Challenge #3: You feel as if your life were being controlled.
Sometimes parents say that household rules—which may include a curfew—are for your own good. “When my parents tell me that,” says Brandi, 20, “it makes me feel that they don’t want me to make my own choices or have any say.”
What can help: You could choose to follow Jesus’ advice recorded at Matthew 5:41: “If someone under authority impresses you into service for a mile, go with him two miles.” Ashley and her brother have found a practical way to apply that principle. “We usually try to get home 15 minutes early,” she says. Could you set a similar goal?
Why this works: It’s more enjoyable to do things because we want to do them than merely because we have to! And think of this: When you choose to arrive home a little early, you are in control of your time. Further, you might be reminded of this principle: “Your good act [can] be, not as under compulsion, but of your own free will.”—Philemon 14.
Getting home early also builds your parents’ trust, which often leads to greater freedom. Wade, 18, observes, “If you gain your parents’ trust, the leash will loosen.”
Write down another challenge your curfew presents.
What can help you to overcome this challenge?
Why, do you think, might this work?
Someday you’ll likely move away from home and enjoy considerable freedom. In the meantime, be patient. “You may not have all the freedoms you want,” says Tiffany, now 20, “but if you can learn to deal with restrictions, you won’t have to be miserable for all your teenage years.”
^ par. 4 Names in this article have been changed.
TO THINK ABOUT
How does your curfew demonstrate your parents’ concern for you?
If you’ve already broken a curfew, how can you repair the damage?