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Personal Story: Curfew
There was never a 'curfew' in my house --reasonable time
to be home, yes, but curfew --no.
I must be 'nuts', you say? Perhaps. But this is how our family
worked, and it did work. The following scenario demonstrates how it was
are going to John's house tonight.
time do you plan to be home
a.m. (they say with a smile)
think so.. what time?
1:00 it is.... and if plans change I expect a phone call. And if
you are not home, or haven't called by 1:30 I will know something is
wrong (because 1/2 hour gives you lots of time to get to a phone if
something happens) and I will be calling your friends, the police, and
- Respect for them and respect for me
- Good limit setting
- What will happen if
- Trust (the IF was there in case something
happened, not because I thought they wouldn't phone or be
home on time)
And did it always work?
Mostly, but there were a few calls made by Mom, and a few "yah yah's"
by the kids.
And how did I handle these?
Situation 1: (Daughter)
This one had me sweating...
but it ended up on a very positive note.
She was seeing a young man who was heavily involved in a church group
and their teen gatherings and prayer meetings. And three
weekends in a row for one reason or another (in the middle of a prayer
at the time, forgot, didn't realize it was so late) she was not home
by the 1/2 hour extra time given, and she had not phoned. The
first time she did phone, but it was over the 1/2 hour. The
second time, I tracked her down at the church and she apologized for
not keeping track of the time. The third time.... well this was
the hard one.
The third time, I knew she would not be late. The third time, I
knew she would do everything in her power to not make me worry.
But the 1/2hour came and went, there was no answer at the church. I
could not track her down. And I paced. And I worried. I
knew in my mind that the next time I saw her, she would be injured, or
Then in she came -- 15 min. late-- again, not realizing what time it
was. Staying in control, I tried to make it a learning
experience rather than punitive. Here is part of the conversation, after
we established what time it was:
Me: what I had been doing for the past 1/2
Daughter: worrying. Sorry.
Me: that isn't fair and can't happen again.. What are we going to do
(after thinking for a moment) You can drive us next time.
and so, if she hadn't stopped seeing him after that, I would have been driving her and her boyfriend to and from
the event (can you imagine a teenager setting that up???) Wow (I think
now.. and I thought then.. WOW..)
Some people have a really hard time with this story..
Many say that I was way too lenient in letting her get away with that
disrespect and irresponsible behaviour. But let's look at the
1. I forbid her to see this young man again.
2. I set a curfew and ground her.
How do you think she would have reacted to each of the these? Do
you think it would have stopped her? How would my actions have affected
our relationship? Would she have learned self-control, set good
boundaries for herself? I think, personally, that both of the options
above would have ended up with very negative results.
Situation 2: (Son)
This was a hard lesson learned.. and a sad one... but
makes a very effective tool for others. Be my guest to tell this story
to your teens.
My son was very good at calling to
let me know of changed plans, but there were times when we didn't
really know where he was or when he was coming home. We talked
about respect, and about me worrying about him, etc. but on occasion,
he still didn't call. Then one day, I said, "you
know, it isn't just for your safety that we need to know where you are and when you are coming home. What if something happened to
one of us while you were out and we needed to contact you?"
His response at the time was "like that is going to
happen".... oh the innocence and 'invinsibleness' of teens!
But it did indeed happen. His father died when our son was off
to the movies with friends, but we didn't know where he was. It took me a very long time to track
him down. Yes, things happen!
Looking back, with 20-20 visions/insight, I would
not change a thing in how we dealt with 'curfews' in our
household. But I do have to point out that this trust
didn't just happen. It was throughout their childhood years that
we worked together at solving problems, that we built an understanding
and respect for each other, and worked on making good decisions. Yes,
they tested them, but that is all about growing up. It is how we handled
the situations, that kept us close as a family, and me so very proud of
When you trust and respect those
close to you, you can handle anything that life tosses your way, and any
consequences that occur due to your actions.
You have the strength to make it through, to stay in control, to be on
top of your world.
This page is a personal story of how I guided self-discipline
in my family.
It is not here to tell you what to do but to demonstrate how effective
self-discipline guidance can be.
Debbie Roswell c 2000
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copyright, 1999: Debbie Roswell