Nocturnal Children

It was 12:30 a.m. and my husband said, “What time did you tell Mary to be home?”

Our youngest daughter was home from college for fall break last weekend and was at TU visiting friends. “I didn’t,” I said. “I’m going to text her,” my husband said. “You can’t text her,” I said. “She’s in college.”

It’s so hard to adjust to certain things. Like allowing your 18-year-old, who goes to an out-of-state college, to set her own hours.

Yes, she did have a curfew when she was in high school. I am of the opinion that nothing good happens after midnight, especially not in the wee hours of the morning. Did she complain? Sometimes. Were we flexible with her? Yes. But, I would rather set up some guidelines first, then discuss on a case-by-case basis rather than try to retroactively impose rules.

One thing I know is that once kids go to college, they become somewhat nocturnal animals – even Mary, who is typically a first-to-fall-asleep-at-the-slumber-party type person. The noise and activity in the dorm has caused her to lose some sleep, and she has been forced into a more late-night bedtime.

Independence. I’ve noticed that it’s kind of a funny irony with parents. When kids are toddlers and elementary school age, we talk so much about how independent they are. We’re so amazed that they can do things on their own, and we encourage it. I’ve always thought that it’s probably because we actually have complete control over them.

When they get into middle school and high school, and we begin to lose a little control, we suddenly want them to be less independent. I guess every family finds their balance. For us, giving our kids a curfew made us feel like we could keep them a little safer.

But once they got into college, the curfew didn’t make sense, even at home. They had been making their own decisions about everything once they set foot on campus. So far, they haven’t had any major problems and seem to be making good choices for themselves.

Oh, and when did Mary get home that night? I heard the dog’s tail wagging, “fwump, fwump, fwump” on the floor, welcoming Mary home at about 1 a.m., even before she put the key in the door. (How do dogs know, not only that someone is about to come in the door, but who it is?)

What are your thoughts about teen curfews? I know the city of Tulsa has a curfew, but my observation was that many parents don’t follow those rules and I’m surprised that many parents don’t have an expectation of when their kids should be home. If your kids aren’t yet teenagers, will you impose a curfew? Why or why not?

Categories: Editor’s Blog