Curfew for a 17 Year Old?

Updated on November 28, 2012
J.F. asks from Spring, TX
26 answers

My 17 year old daughter (August birthday) has been pushing the boundaries for years now. She quit school recently, got a GED, and now works full time. She wants to be free to do whatever she wants, but technically, she isn't an adult and is very immature, direspectful, inconsiderate, and irresponsible. I'm doing whatever I can to keep her from running away from home and keep her safe until she is legally old enough to live on her own (her wishes, not mine). I'm sad to say that I see her making the same mistakes that I made when I was her age. Fortunately, she hasn't run away (yet) or become pregnant like I did her age. She's very angry at my husband (who adopted her when we married in 2000) and me because we want to be able to track her via cell phone while she is away from home. She sees it more as a lack of trust on our part and less of a safety concern which is what it really is. She also insists that we are asking too much of her when we ask her to help do chores around the house ("considering that she works 38 hours a week at a fast food restaurant and is so tired"). She only wants to hang with her boyfriend and friends when she isn't working. She can't stand being at home but has always gravitated towards boyfriends and their families; preferring their company over her own family's. We are both college educated parents that have always encouraged her to do the same and we (inconsistently) go to church and have raised her to believe in God. I'm trying to teach her valuable life lessons (responsibility, care and respect for self and others, common considerations, etc...) before it's too late and she's too far gone but she only sees me as someone "lecturing" her all of the time and more often than not tunes me out. My husband and I have two other younger daughters (ages 5 and 2) and are concerned about the negative impact that all of the arguing will have on them. We are emotionally and physically exhausted and are just wanting peace in the house at this point. We currently have a curfew of 10:00 pm on weeknights and midnight on weekends. She wants to be able to stay out until 1 am if she wants to. I don't know what to do...

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answers from San Francisco on

I may be in the minority here but I think 1am is reasonable since she is not in HS. She is going to do what she is going to do so I would relax the rules in as many areas as you can. But, participating in household chores is not one of them. If she has chosen to make adult decisions than she needs to be paying rent and pulling her weight at home. And, for the record, you don't trust her (and probably for good reason). You need to switch parenting modes because she is too old to control. Treat her like an adult and try to listen to her more. Good luck!!!

4 moms found this helpful

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answers from Sarasota on

She is not in school and is working full time. A 1am curfew is not unreasonable. Also, tracking her by cell phone? I would have wanted out of my parents house as well. That is an invasion on her as person, IMO. You can compromise now, or lose her altogether the day she turns 18. It's time to loosen the apron strings.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

When I was at that stage in life my parents treated it like a roommate situation, which was easier to hear I think.
They explained that roommates :
Expect you to do your share of the cleaning.
Don't do your laundry or grocery shopping and rarely cook for you.
Expect you to be quiet if you come home at 1 or 2 in the morning.
Might report you missing if you don't let them know you are alive once in awhile.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Albany on

If I had a child who was not a full time student and working full time, whether 16 or 20, they would be paying real rent, utilities, and absolutely their own cell phone bill. So a curfew would be silly. Why does she not get her own place?


5 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

She is working, charge her rent. See what that curfew is worth to her.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Hartford on

Her age and status as a legal adult have nothing to do with your house rules. She seems to think that 18 is a magic age where suddenly life will become better and she won't have to listen to anyone else except herself. She doesn't realize how easy she has it right now and how little responsibility.

Your house, your rules, your reasons. You're not being too strict but the fact is that she's not going to realize that until she's out in the real world working for a real employer, working real hours and having to account for every single second of her day and every dollar of her paycheck.

Sit down with her and create a budget for the house, plus a contract for living there. Give her a taste of the real world. If she wants to be treated like an adult, then treat her like one. Be her landlord. Don't be her maid or laundromat or chef. Stop fighting. Make her pay for all of her own gas, insurance, cell phone service, her share of food and utilities... everything. Break it all down for her. Show her what you and your husband do in order to run the house, and what she's now expected to do as an "adult" member of the house including chores that will be built into the contract.

Build into the contract that for every chore of hers that you end up having to do yourself, it's a dollar extra rent for you. That will add up quickly.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I would tell her she's in living in your house it's your rules. If she's 17 and has a GED is she needs to find somewhere else to live that may be what's best for all of you. Having cores is not a punishment it's being part of a family. I would tell her if she' argues much more the curfew well get earlier.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boise on

Ok, I agree to some extent with what some of the others are saying. However, having much younger ones in the house does/should play a role in the house.

As one mom said, what are your state laws? That's what curfew would be, this takes it out of your hands, the law get's final say.

Stop tracking your DD, it's okay to have it, but not use it for anything other then a true emergency.

She is living as an adult, she should be taking responsibility for herself as an adult. As others have said look at it like a roommate situation.

At 17 she can move out if she chooses, while 18 is the 'magic' number most states allow for 17 year olds to move if they wish.

Draw up a contract of what you expectations are, with her input and compromise with her. It's not about you getting your way, nor her getting her's. The house is everyones home, the rules need to apply so that the home as a whole doesn't get disturbed. Even my 21,20,20 and 19 year olds know that curfew is midnight. There are exceptions, but that is the rule, otherwise they wake up my younger children. They understand that, but if I just said midnight cause that's how I want it they would have an issue.

Your DD is not far off from adulthood, this final year isn't about being right. It's about preparing her to be on her own, and sometimes that means you have to let go and loosen the strings.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

when i was this age, my curfew was basically whatever time i told my mom i'd be done (with whatever). but i earned that.

i would say at the very least, talk to her about the 1:00 curfew and tell her that she can stay out that late UNLESS she screws up- and that is the first thing to go. comes home late, disrespectful, doesn't help out with chores - back to 10:00. little kids that aren't big enough to help out nicely need their sleep. when she acts like an "adult", she can stay out later.


2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Last year my daughter graduated early. Worked full time. I didn't give her a curfew but expected that she let me know where she was going and when to expect her home. She would usually let me know if she was going to be later. She was saving her money for college in the fall - so I did not charge her rent. Her brother on the other hand was charged rent after he was out of school until he decided to go into the Air Force. Every one did some sort of chores...maybe on their days off and not when they had worked all day. They did their own laundry and often took care of their own meals.

I wouldn't track her cell phone at this point. Tracking her probably won't change what she does and is only causing conflict. Give her a little a breathing room..but I would consider charging some kind of rent and let her know she does have to clean up after herself and take care of her own laundry, etc.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Your house, your rules. Even when she's 18, same rule applies.
If she wants to control her life, she can! When she's supporting herself.
Your curfews sound reasonable to me.
Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I'm somewhat on board with Mamazita. My oldest is 17, too.
Tracking her every move through her cellphone is really over the top and someone who is not a criminal doesn't deserve that kind of tracking. She should be able to be in RiteAid buying tampons without you knowing.
As for the curfew, my teen isn't allowed to just be out and about without a destination. She does not have a specific curfew. I do it the same way my mother did - the time you have to come home depends upon where you are going and how long it's reasonable for you to be there! If you're going to a 7:40 movie that's two hours long and 20 minutes away from home, you won't quite make it home at 10:00 and you certainly can't go out for a Starbucks after if you must be home at 10pm. Is it so unreasonable for a fulltime working person to see a movie on a weeknight after work and then go for a latte? What is your objection to her staying out til 1 a.m.? She isn't less likely to be having sex with the boyfriend an hour earlier (and if she gets an IUD, she is very unlikely to get pregnant at all).
She is adjusting to working full time, much different than 6 1/2 hours a day in school. It may be time, as Mamazita says, to start treating her as an adult in the home. She should be using her earnings to pay for her own expenses - her cellphone, her gas, her car insurance, her own clothes and haircuts. She should be in charge of her own laundry, keeping her own room and bathroom clean, clean up after herself if she makes her own food in the kitchen. Approach this with her that she'll be getting some adult privileges but that adult responsibility comes with that.
It's understandable that she doesn't want to spend her time hanging around at home with a 5 year and and a 2 year old. She should, however, be considerate of the family - be quiet when she comes in at night and not wake up the rest of the family.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I had a curfew up until the day I got married when I was 21. My dad was very strict about it too. Weekdays it was 9:45, weekends it was midnight. For every minute late, was a day that I was grounded (and yes, he would hide my keys). I remember it was about a week before I got married I was out at a restaurant with a friend and I was running late and I called to let them know, it would be around 10:15 when I got home. My dad freaked out! But my mom just told him to chill out, it's only 30 minutes late, I called to let them know and I was 21 years old and about to get married, lol!
So, I do understand how your daughter feels. Maybe come up with a compromise? Like 11pm? Also if she is working full time and not in school, then she can be paying rent. I agree with you about the chores. Part of being a family and living with them is helping out around the house. There is no reason she can't do some chores. Good luck and I hope everything works out for you

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Honestly, I wouldn't want to be around people who were always lecturing me either. The only difference between this girl and an adult is that it's not August yet. She's 17, has a diploma, and works full time. So tell her, if she wants to be treated like an adult, she can come and go as she pleases, but she has chores, responsibilities, and has to pay rent. If she's asking to be treated like an adult, then treat her like one.

Obviously, treating her like a child isn't working, and she's not a child. She's made some very grown-up decisions. I see some good things here. She got her GED when she could have just dropped out, and she's working full time. She probablly spends more time at her boyfriend's house because she's more accepted for who she is there, doesn't have to listened to lectures or get beat over the head with "values".

I'm not saying you're in the wrong. You're obviously a very loving parent who wants the best for her child. No one can fault you for that, and good gosh... I remember being that age. I must have put my parents through hell.

All I'm saying is make sure you are praising her for the victories in her life, the good choices she is making, and encourage without lecturing or making her feel like she's not good enough, because that will only drive her farther out of your reach.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Grand Forks on

I did not have a curfew when I was a teen. When I had to be home depended where I was going and what I was doing. I got my first job at 16, and often worked until midnight on school nights. On weekends I worked until 3:00am. As long as I wasn't missing school and my grades weren't suffering I could work those hours. If I was going to the mall, I would be expected home after the mall closed. If I was going to a movie, I was to be home after the movie. If I was going to extracurriculars, I would be expected home an hour or so after they ended. If a dance ended at midnight, or a party went until 1:00am I was expected home shortly after. So, anyway, although I didn't have a curfew I was accountable as to where I was going, what I was doing and when I would be home. I thought it was much more reasonable than to set some arbitrary time to be home.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

I think that in this situation that she is living like she is an adult. I do believe that sometimes it's better to let kids make mistakes when they have the safety nets of home living. She is old enough to know when she's tired, when she's ready to go to bed, when she wants to get up, go to work, etc....she has already graduated even though it was with a GED. That shows she is smart and very capable of being focused on something.

She is not ready for college by any means. If she did go she might suddenly wake up a different person and want to go to class, attend lectures, and actually learn something but I think she'd really rather be on her own and not go to college just yet.

I think you have to let her make more decisions. She is going to be leaving and go to live with boy friend or anyone that will let her sleep there. If you keep pressuring her to do only what you want you will lose her completely for now.

Any rules you make will be laughed at and she'll be gone. If you do want a curfew then make it a reasonable one for someone who is already old enough to be living in a dorm going to college. If you don't she is just going to be gone.

If she can't learn to make these decisions while having the safety of being there with a lot of freedom she will find someone that will let her live her life with absolutely no restrictions at all.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Check the emancipation laws in your state. Sit down a talk with your daughter seriously and let her know that if she can not accept the rules of your home for the sake of the rest of your family, she should become emancipated and do her own thing.

Legal emancipation will make her responsible for her future actions.

This might be a wake up call. You can't beat yourself up for past mistakes, you've done the best you can do. Families need to work together, if she's making life miserable for everyone else and still insisting that she has the "right" to do what she want because she has a great fast food job...maybe it grow up time.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Hickory on

I have a 19 yo daughter, and beginning at 17, she pushed limits and made all sorts of demands. Because her university is just 10 minutes away from our home, we offered her the option of living at home to save money. In return, we expected her to live by the rules of our home which included: no overnight guests of the opposite sex, no illegal activity such as underage drinking or drugs, communication of whereabouts and anticipated time home, cleaning up after herself and assisting with specific household responsibilities in lieu of rent. We communicated that as an adult, she was a guest in our home and we expected the respect that we would expect from any adult living under our roof. We experienced limited success.

Although we covered most of her expenses, she felt that she should have all of the freedoms of an adult but did not live up to her responsibilities at home or respect our rules. Like your daughter, she did not have "time" for chores, but she always found time to text and socialize. She wanted to come and go at will with no responsibility. She was adversarial and continually disrespectful.

Over the summer, we asked her to leave. We agreed to help her with certain expenses as long as she kept her grades up, did not move in with a boyfriend and stayed in school. She has continued to make bad choices, and we have made her deal with the consequences.

This has not been easy, but not all lessons take place in a classroom. Our home is a more peaceful, loving environment, and my younger children have benefitted from that. I am less stressed without the constant tension and never-ending confrontations. I wish that I could save my daughter some of the consequences she is facing for her mistakes, but she chose this path, and she has to deal with the good and bad.

Whatever you decide, don't second guess yourself. There are no right or wrong answers. This is the hardest experience I have ever lived through. I understand your frustration and your worries.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Tell her to mind the rules and if she doesn't pack her up and put her luggage on the front porch. Then file for emancipation for her. If she has a GED and a job, the court will probably grant it. Then she can figure it all out on her own without your pesky lectures.

Really, she it isn't going to get any better between now and her 18th birthday. Why put the younger kids and yourselves through it. She thinks she has all the answers; she needs to SEE that she doesn't. Also, your younger ones will be watching and learning from her. It will do them good to see/know that she is struggling and that she made a mistake.



answers from Charlotte on




answers from Chicago on

A few things come to mind.

1. You go to school or work full time, 10% of salary goes to you the parent for rent (refundable if you feel like it when she moves out) (that is what my parents did, and that is how I was able to buy my condo).

2. Bring in a 3rd party, consular to mediate the house rules and punishments if the rules are broken.

If she thinks she is tired just working 38 hrs a week. wait until she works 60-70 just to make ends meet working in FF with out an education. And let her watch others work less hrs and make more money.

I know I moved out at 19 and back in at 20. I straitened out my act, got a good paying job, went back to school and got my Associates and BA.

The town has curfew guidelines as long as your guidelines are inside or match the town all is fine. If not she might be in earlier.

FYI even at 25 I had to at least let my parents know where I was and what I was doing. Even when I moved out my parents still met my boyfriends and new friends. Part of that is how I was raised.

Good luck



answers from College Station on

This is a really hard one. I think you should let her go. Completely. Cut her off. Don't pay for anything- food, rent, cell phone, nada. If she wants to live as an adult, let her. She will either take to it really well, or she will return with her tail between her legs when she realizes just how good she has it at home.

And I personally think the cell phone thing is about trust (since she has shown you can't trust her) than safety. At some point, you have to let her show you that you raised her right. A comeback to the whole cell phone thing is- if you don't want me to track you, you are more that welcome to pay for your own phone on your own plan.


answers from Beaumont on

Curfew is too strict. Dr. Phil just talked about having this same battle with his son and he changed it to one am. Plus she is having a negative effect on the whole family. Hopefully you have her on birth control.
If she wants to be on her own I would let her. It is sad that you do not have a relationship with her but you can not teach values without it. I would keep the lines of communication open and let her know how much you love her and maybe one day she will be more receptive to you.



answers from Victoria on

I think its time you take a different aproach to her and how you put things out to her. If she would like to stay out till one she needs to earn the privilage. Not doing chores shows you that she isnt mature enough to handle the adult freedome of staying out late. These chores need to be life skills she will need to live on her own. Like she needs to do her laundary (not everyones/perhaps a load of towels once a week). She should know how to cook a meal (once a week together make it fun and get her to help make dinner). I would take care in learning now how to help comunicate with your daughter now so you can get a handle on your younger ones now before you have to deal with this mess when they are older.

I will say teaching your children at a young age is helpful for once they become more independent to make the right choices.
I would purchase some books about teens and perhaps look into family council with out your daughter. Some tips and skills to help you better deal and comunicate with your daughter.



answers from Amarillo on

It's time to change since what you are doing is not working. She is almost 18 and it is time to treat her like an adult even if she is not on paper. She wants freedom to do as she pleases and not hear lectures and to spread her wings.

Keep the chores, charge rent, make her pay for her necessities, and make the curfew 1am. I do like the idea of the depo shot to make sure she does not become pregnant as you do not want to raise another child.

Good luck to all of you. The younger ones are watching. My daughter said she learned a lot about what not to do by what her brother did.

The other S.

PS This is a hard time for many children as they try to find their own identity.



answers from Houston on

Do the teachable moments with her ONLY when the moment arises - you've missed teaching her valuable life lessons - work on those with the 5 and 2 year old - at 17, she's not going to listen to anything you have to say and will probably do just the opposite for spite.

Sit down with her and talk about her plans. LISTEN. When she's done talking - tell her how you feel - don't yell at her or tell her what you think she's doing wrong. Explain about the younger kids and not wanting the fighting going on. Come to an agreement, if possible. Make sure she knows what the consequences will be if she doesn't keep her end up.

Good luck!!

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