Staying Out Late

Staying out late can cause as much friction between parents and children as anything else.

Teen View

Staying out late is a sign of growing up. It suggests freedom and independence. On top of this what you do when you stay out late is far more fun than going to school could ever be.

Parents View

Staying out late is a big worry. A teenager can easily walk into trouble not of their own making. Late nights can affect school work. They could be facing peer pressure to drink alcohol, take drugs, engage in sex or violence.

With such opposite views it is not surprising tension can arise out of a teen's desire to push boundaries. Coping with their desire for freedom can be one of the biggest challenges a parent faces.

Here are 10 tips for handling staying out late.

1. Look at Your Whole Relationship

How much influence you have over what time your children come home will depend to a large degree on the quality of your overall relationship. If you have a relationship that is already difficult it is likely to be hard to get them to respect your point of view. Therefore it is important to look at ways to improve the general relationship you have with your child. This is likely to help you in many key areas.

2. Cut Them Some Slack

As you are probably already aware just saying no doesn't always carry a great deal of weight. This is especially true if you find yourself saying no too often. Accept that a teenager enjoys socialising with their friends and that to be able to stay out later helps them to feel they are growing up. They are more likely to be responsive to your own wishes if you can reach compromise rather than if you try to lay down the law.

3. Work out a Sensible Agreement

This is likely to revolve around what is a good time for them to arrive home and where they can go. This will depend on if they have school the following day, how old they are and what they will be doing when they are out. Before starting any discussion on the subject work out what you think is a sensible plan. Be prepared to explain why you think the home time you specify is a good time to arrive home rather than just a time you have made up without a good reason.

4. Trust Their Judgement

If you can make your son or daughter feel you trust them it can have a positive effect. It makes it less likely that they will feel the need to break the rules and they are more likely to think you are acting reasonably.

5. Suggest Suitable Places to Go

As a parent one of the problems is worrying about where they are. This is especially true if you feel they are just out and about "hanging around". Make suggestions as to where they could go that you feel is safe and suitable. Somewhere such as a cinema trip can be a good idea. You can find out what time a film ends and this can help to set a reasonable home time.

6. Be Prepared to Act as a Taxi

If you want to ensure that the agreed home time is kept then picking up your son or daughter is the easiest way of achieving it. Although it may well be something you do enough of already it can also help you to keep a discrete eye on where they have been.

7. Set Aside Room at Home

If it is at all possible set aside room at home where your child can invite their friends back to. This could be a bedroom or somewhere else in your house. This can help to solve the problem of knowing where your son or daughter is. Another advantage is that you can see times other children have to leave to go home. This can help to get round the complaint of "Everyone is allowed out later than I am." Be warned a new problem can arise too. This is how to get their friends out of your house at a reasonable time.

8. Treat Them with Respect

When you go out, let your children know where you are going and what time you are likely to be back. Phone home if plans change. This lets your children know that you respect them enough to tell them where you are going to be. This can help them to see letting people know what you are up to is normal.

9. Breaking the Rules

The biggest test comes when your son or daughter arrives home late. If this is the first time tread carefully. It is quite possible that they simply didn't realise the time. Make it clear to them though that if it happens again you will find it harder to trust them and that you will also need to impose some sort of sanction. If it happens more than once then you will need to consider moving home time to earlier or grounding them.

10. Think Back

Think back to when you were a teenager trying to push your own boundaries. How did your parents handle the situation? Did they take a hard line? If so how did this make you feel? Did it damage your relationship with your parents? Were your parents more easy going? If they were did this help you to respect their view more or did it give you so much rope that you found yourself in difficult and troublesome situations? Thinking back to your own teenage years can help you to find the answers to the problems facing you now.

Handling Problems

It is important that children know if there is a problem they can still come to you. If something bad happens when they are out let them know they can call you immediately for help. Any post-mortem can take place later once the problem has been resolved.

What do You Think?

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