HS Graduation and the Freedom Factor

<p>Looking for some support and comments on this cause I just have a feeling I'm not alone...</p>

<p>S graduated from HS last week and turned 18 the week before. Has been a very responsible, good kid with nothing really that could be reported as being troublesome for us. Really wasn't a social kid until about 2 years ago when he got close to a nice group of kids at school who also aren't "trouble". </p>

<p>We have always been pretty strict on curfews. Let him have midnight for most of Senior year on the weekends and now, will stretch that out to 12:30 or 1pm (begrudgingly) lately. S has developed a habit of often being late - up to a 1/2 hour or so. Obviously, this irks me. </p>

<p>It seems that EVERY night is going out night. Can't the guy consider staying home one night? (!) And EVERY night he maxs his curfew out. Last week he asked to go to a local club - my first experience with the "club" concept (his older sister wasn't quite as social and probably didn't "club" until junior year of college). </p>

<p>I KNOW he is going away in the fall. I KNOW he is trying to desperately hang onto his relationships with his friends knowing they will disperse in a couple of months to different schools (though many do stay and attend local U's in town). I KNOW he is pretty trustworthy.</p>

<p>We are starting to clash over the going out everynight thing and the taking the curfew to the last minute and sometimes a bit beyond. Last night I got the old "all my friends can do what they want, whenever they want. You want to know where I am, with who..." blah, blah, blah. Yes. I do. Not asking him to text me every 5 minutes, but would like to know his whereabouts. </p>

<p>I think I worry that he is going to have a harder time leaving in the fall (friends and girlfriend). I would like his mind to not leave high school, but to be thinking a bit ahead to the excitement of fall and college. </p>

<p>I am trying to let go, but not turn loose so to speak. He does not have his own car, but usually takes mine or seems to think he is free to use his sister's since she is home for the summer. At this point, I'm GLAD we haven't provided a car yet! He is working very part-time and has been trying to find another job, but they are scarce.</p>

<p>So, tell me....but don't crush me. :)</p>

<p>How do I manage to let go, still have some rules, but get some sleep at night????</p>

<p>Given that you basically trust your son, and feel good about your relationship with him, why do you have a curfew? Because you think you will be a bad parent if you don't impose rules? Because you are afraid that your son won't talk to you anymore if you don't have that to fight about?</p>

<p>In this respect, you ARE done raising him. He's not going to learn any more about limits or responsibility in the next two months, certainly not if he is complying with your rules rather than learning how to set his own (something he'll have to do soon enough anyway). All you are doing is looking at yourself in the mirror and admiring your own philosophical position, and then getting huffy when your son doesn't agree.</p>

<p>I would try to have an honest conversation with your son about what you and he each needs, emotionally. You are going to worry about him -- what can he do to make you more comfortable? He wants to spend more time with his friends, and there really isn't any reason why he shouldn't. What can you do to get yourself out of the way of that? What is a fair and appropriate way to handle the car question? It's NOT fair and appropriate for him to act as if he owns it, obviously. If you need to fight, try to have it be over something meaningful, not something arbitrary.</p>

<p>How can he go "clubbing" at 18? Is the legal drinking age lower in Ohio?</p>

<p>When my husband is gone (he's a night owl) I sleep on the sofa with an alarm set for my son's curfew. Normally I wake up when he gets home and turn off the alarm. Then move to my bed and sleep til my REAL alarm goes off. This allows me to get enough rest for getting up at 5am for work.</p>

<p>I would tell him every time he's out over curfew the curfew moves back a half an hour and he has to stay home the following night. Then follow through...no exceptions. How is he funding his nighttime activities? If you cut off his money he might be more interested in seeking additional employment!</p>

<p>I think the conversation needs to be had during the day when everyone is calm. If he is a good kid, why the curfew? There is a lot of fear in a high school senior getting ready to leave for college and each child (and parent) expresses it in different ways. If you'd like him home one or two evenings a week, talk to him. Also, are his friends working or going off to camp as counselors? This will lessen the evening activities I would think. It's just been one week since his total freedom, cut him some slack but also talk with him now, before it really upsets you.</p>

<p>Our son graduated a week ago and has been 18 since last October, to top it off he spent all four years of HS at Boarding School, so the freedom issue has arisen here as well. We don't have a curefew here, I expect the courtesy of knowing where he is and around when he plans to come home. It's the same courtesy my husband and I extend to each other and to our son. I want to know who will be around for dinner so I can plan. </p>

<p>I would not be happy if he were out every night! I just think it is night to eat dinner as a famliy every now and then. He is working as a nanny this summer and his hours are flexible. </p>

<p>S does have his own car so he isn't monopolising mine, which would be a problem! I don't blame you for being irritated with your son, I think he is not being courteous or respectful, I think the curfew thing should be more fluid, I don't see anything wrong with requiring him to respect some rules but at college he will be free to stay out as late as he wants, maybe it's better if he gets tired of it this summer! The car issue needs to be negotiated, does he put gas in, keep it clean?</p>

<p>It may be this all a reaction to just graduating and things will settle down, he may not be able to afford to go out every night!</p>

<p>You only have to be 18 to get into the club - but obviously no alcohol served to minors. </p>

<p>Re: the job, he has been looking, calling, filling out apps, etc. without luck for something with more hours. The desire is there. As I said, he does caddy/cut grass and makes decent $$$ at that, but it is only available to do weekends and sometimes occasionally during the week. We don't generally fund his activities.</p>

<p>Trust = no curfew makes no sense to me. You don't have to agree with me on that, but we (myself and H who is in law enforcement and knows our city and what can go on in the middle of the night/safety issues) would stand firm that as parents would not agree to no curfew limits.</p>

<p>S and I are truly very close. But we both have a stubborn streak and are not afraid to voice our opinions and debate. Truly, that I think , is a great quality he has. :) We talk always, about most anything and he is generally good about giving me "updates" to help me feel more comfortable. Again, just some general, "leaving the game and going to hang out at Kelsey's for awhile". </p>

<p>I just am having trouble with the EVERY night, long into the night business. It's just hard to get used to.</p>

<p>True^^^ , this may wear off. Graduation is new and there are lots of occasions for going out. </p>

<p>I think it is helpful for me to hear how others handle things and get a better sense for the "norm". I have a couple of friends I have discussed this with, but one is even more uptight and strict than we are!!!!</p>

<p>If you have a curfew because you are worried about where he is and what he is doing, then what about setting a rule that if he isn't going to be home by curfew, he must check in with you by phone and tell you where he is and when he does expect to be home. Preferably with an agreement that you have the right to say "no" if he is doing something you deem not safe.</p>

<p>Or, if the curfew is about exerting power as parents OR if you truly believe that it unsafe for him to be out past curfew (due to accident statistic in your area or for some other reason), then explain those reasons and give him one more chance. Then crack down and punish him -- take away the car, phone if you are paying for it, etc.</p>

<p>S doesn't have a curfew, but he discusses his plans with us and lets us know when he'll be home. I wouldn't be keen on 3:00am, usually no good reason to be out then! Plus coming in would get the dog barking, wake us up possibly disturb the neighbors etc...I stand by it is a matter of courtesy, which breeds trust. If crimes are occuring in your area in the "wee hours" it is certainly sensible to require him home at an hour you deem reasonable.</p>

<p>Why in the world "as parents" would you not agree to doing without a curfew? Personally, my wife and I imposed no curfew on our kids after they finished high school. I doubt we are any stupider than you are, are less informed about what can go on in the middle of the night, or love our kids less. </p>

<p>I didn't have a curfew when I was an older teenager, and my parents loved me plenty. Their rule was I had to wake them up and tell them when I got home (and, implicitly, let them check out what state I was in at that point). My kids didn't have to wake us up because, well, my wife hated being woken up. We were able to sleep because, like you, we trusted our children, and we recognized that in a matter of weeks they were going to be making those choices for themselves anyway. If they were going to learn by trial and error, better they do it when we would find out about the errors and have a chance to talk with them about it, nonhypothetically.</p>

<p>It's not a matter of information or compulsion, it's a matter of choice. You are choosing to make an issue of this. That's your right, of course, but then you have to deal with the consequences, including conflict at home, and you can't expect people -- starting with your son -- to treat your choice as logical and rational when it isn't. </p>

<p>I'm not saying that your son's choices are all logical and rational, either. And I'm certainly not saying that parents shouldn't make any demands on their 18-year-old children living at home. Check-in texts, for example: I never required that, but it seems like a perfectly good idea, and a decent compromise between your desire for monitoring and his desire for more time with his friends. Any number of ideas might work, including ideas that include curfews. But I would encourage you to actually talk to your son, and for all of you to own the rules and to base them on reason, not symbolism.</p>

<p>We do not have a curfew, and have not felt a need to impose one. S just got his license a month ago. He has stayed out late a couple of times, always lets us know he is going to be late and about when to expect him.</p>

<p>Usually if it is going to be a late night he spends it overnight at a friend's house ( we are not as flexible with having his friends stay over, our bedrooms are ajoining & the noise would keep us up)</p>

<p>I am comfortable with this, it's not as if he's rolling in at dawn after a night partying. He goes out to the movies or video games at a friend's house. He has a summer job that he's responsible for getting up for and getting to, and he's been doing that. </p>

<p>I had hoped he would be more helpful around the house, and that hasn't happened, but that's another story.</p>

<p>Why does he need a curfew and why are you still up at 12:30-1 am waiting for him?
Do yourself a favor and get some rest! Seriously. The first couple of nights are the hardest but after than you won't even hear him come home ;)</p>

<p>My kids quit waking me up when they came home because while I would have a conversation with them - I would not remember it in the morning.<br>
Set some ground rules on the car. Set some ground rules on finding a job. Set some ground rules on chores around the house. Teach him about proper behaviors.
After all of that - let him go.
After graduation my rule was to text me if they were NOT coming home - since their group of friends would have lots of late home movie nights and impromtu sleep overs.</p>

<p>I so remember struggling with similar things. Our saving grace was a job and the early hour for work! Agree that it's best to relax with the curfew thing this summer. I even struggled with it when they were home on breaks from college. Our resolution to the dilemma wouldn't suit everybody, but it works for us. </p>

<p>I explained that my thing was waking up in the night and not knowing if they were home or, god forbid, lying on the side of the road somewhere. I'd go to their room to check and would, of course, worry if the bed was empty. We eventually compromised--decided that whenever they came home from an evening out, come in an let me know (fortunately I can go back to sleep immediately), but if they ended up staying elsewhere overnight, they were to text me, so if/when i was concerned I could read the text. Just couldn't/can't bring myself to turn off the mothering gene even though they're grown-ups.....I honestly don't give it a second thought when they're not home. Just the way I am....</p>

<p>I also think a lot of it is common courtesy. We've always been that way in our household...."I'm going to the grocery store, be back soon....Out to the movies and dinner, home around 11" </p>

<p>Hopefully, they'll have the kind of relationship with a roommate that there'd be some idea of where they are and when they're expected to return. Hate to think it could be days before we knew they were "missing". ...sounds bad, but I think it's important to have that kind of roommate relationship.</p>

<p>Appreciate all your comments and am open to some of the suggestions. </p>

<p>I am a fan of "let me know when you get home" and my kids almost always do that. Our nature in the house has too been to communicate where people are and how long they will be gone, etc. - just a note on the table or short text or whatever.</p>

<p>abasket- I sympathize and you are not alone. I have been struggling with this as well. I am not sure what the correct answer is. We stretched the previous curfew of midnight to 12:30 once D1 turned 18 (midnight was the curfew of city we live in for under 18 unless traveling from employment and although most don't follow it, we respect the law). Lately, she wants to come home by 1, and I have allowed it for the most part because I am trying to gently loosen the strings (and because there is no boyfriend in the picture currently which removes even more worry). I can't sleep until I know she is home either. I hate it. Most of her friends have no curfew now, but that doesn't sit right with me either. I don't remember EVER staying out past 12:30 or 1, even in college, so the preference for vampire hours just seems odd to me.</p>

<p>Curfew is 1:30am here. The bars get out at 2:00am and there is no reason to be on the roads at that time of night. If he wants to arrange ahead of time to stay somewhere else overnight, fine. </p>

<p>I'm just not going to sit up in the wee hours worrying about him. I did that already, it was called "colic."</p>

<p>Curfew is also on our list of things we're figuring out. My son graduated a couple of weeks ago and will be turning 18 soon. He has always had a curfew and has always repected it. Our curfew is also partly based on driving home before the drunks get on the street. The road back and forth between the area where most of his friends live is awful. We have been flexible with curfew during these last few months with graduation activities, but we always expect to be asked, and still prefer he stay with a friend rather than drive on the roads late. He hasn't asked yet, but I plan to back off the curfew. I will expect him to let me know if he plans to be in past 1:00. I was having him wake me up when he got home, but that isn't good for work nights. Now I leave the kitchen light on and he needs to turn it off when he goes to bed.</p>

<p>My parents always did it this way: when we were growing up, any time we went out they would ask us what time we would be home (this started when we started driving). Usually we would respond "midnight". If we were going to be later than expected, we were expected to let someone know. It gave us a lot of freedom but mom and dad still knew where we were. Of course, my sister and I were never big on the whole "clubbing" scene and usually were at a friend's house, so we rarely stayed out until 3 AM.</p>

<p>OP, maybe try and negotiate with your son. Does he really still need a curfew?</p>

<p>I agree that at this point you can't really teach him anything else about responsibility. Does your town have a curfew? I know that during the summer, kids here have a curfew...though I can't seem to remember what it is...11PM or midnight, maybe. If a minor or even sometimes a young adult (like your S, fresh out of high school) is caught out after the curfew, they're fined and get a lovely police escort home to talk to mom and dad.</p>

<p>Your S might have to learn the hard way that there's no real reason to stay out that late. Maybe start waking him up early in the morning with chores to do to help out since he's only working part-time...that might give him more incentive to get to sleep at a reasonable hour.</p>

<p>Would like to say that I am not upset with him that he is not working more hours. We live in northern Ohio - heck, our unemployment rate for adults is of the highest in the country! He is working some, is working out for his sport, happily helps around the house, etc. Really, he's a great guy - maybe his mom just isn't prepared for him to grow up! </p>

<p>We had a nice talk today - discussed many things. Much better talk in the daytime than at 1am!!!!!</p>

<p>abasket - you're right, everything is clearer in the light of day.</p>

<p>Honestly, I don't understand the vampire hours either. I have trouble staying up past 9:30 pm. My kids and their friends generally have/had jobs in the service industry where they worked in the evening until 9, 10 or 11 pm. With all their crazy schedules the only time they had to socialize was after work. Fortunately a few parents didn't mind midnight pool parties.<br>
Parentally, I am a stickler for the big stuff. They lived in dire fear of me if they screwed up. I got lucky, though and have great kids. The small stuff - I don't sweat so much.</p>

<p>A lifesaver for me was texting. I asked them to text me when they got home, if they were not coming home or when they were coming home. If I woke up at 3 am I could look at my phone and there was a text.<br>
All that was in the past.... <em>sigh</em>. Now they have left me and don't come home in the summer (or for very long).</p>