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Parenting Your Teenager: How to End the Curfew Battle

Q. Things have been relatively calm and OK with our 16-year-old son so far. Now all of a sudden, there is a huge battle about curfew. He wants to stay out later and later, and we don't think he is ready. How do we set appropriate curfew in our house?

A. Here are a few basic principles on which you and your teen can build:

*Curfew is for the convenience of the parents, not the teens. Parents want to know what time their teens will be home so the parents can sleep when they need to. Be careful not to get this principle turned around the wrong way.

*There should be a later curfew on the weekend than on weeknights.

*One or more evenings should be family nights when everyone is home.

*Sunday nights are not weekend nights, they are school nights.

A Curfew Program You Both Can Handle

Here's how to set up a curfew program that you can live with.

Pick a beginning curfew. Let's say 11 p.m., for example.

Of course, your son will want it to be later. Tell him there is a way to get there and you are going to provide him with a map.

If he honors the 11 p.m. curfew for four months, then he will have earned an additional 15 minutes added to his curfew.

If at any time during the four-month period he comes in late, then the earning period starts all over again the next day.

Choose times and time periods that fit for your family and situation.

The nice thing about this curfew system is that it puts the parents clearly in charge, gives the teen something to work toward, and provides both the parents and the teen clear markers of progress.

Leading parenting expert Jeff Herring is a teen and family therapist, parenting coach, speaker and syndicated parenting and relationship columnist. Jeff invites you to visit ParentingYourTeenager.com for 100's of tips and tools for parenting through the teenage years. You can also subscribe to his f'ree weekly internet newsletter "ParenitngYourTeenager."

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