How Much Freedom Should My 13 Year Old Daughter Get?

Updated on August 08, 2017
K.S. asks from Parker, CO
17 answers

My daughter won't stop bugging me about getting to watch more adult TV (like PG 13) and wanting to stay up late (like instead of 9pm 10pm). She says I treat her like her 8 year old brother. I let her hang out with friends without me and stay home alone. But one of the biggest points she makes to me is she is a certified babysitter so I know she's responsible. What do I do?

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S.L.

answers from Denver on

My 13 yo went to an incredibly intense middle school. She was doing homework until at least 10 or 10:30 some nights. She definitely watched pg13 movies well before that age. I do think you might be a little on the strict side.

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J.K.

answers from Wausau on

PG13 doesn't mean 'adult tv', it means parental guidance should be used for viewers under 13 years old. There are a lot of PG13 movies meant for teenagers as the primary audience. You might enjoy watching some of them together as a family, 8 year old included since you're there with the guidance if necessary.

You don't mention what 'later' means in this case, so I'll just tell you that my kid's summer bedtime around age 13 was 10pm. 9pm on school nights and they would get up at 7am.

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B.C.

answers from Norfolk on

Kids push boundaries - it's their job.
You decide in each case if it's a hill worth dying on - and choose your battles.
On a school night - an earlier bedtime is a good idea (unless she has a report or project she's working on - those are exceptions more than the rule).
But on a weekend or holiday - why not give her an extra hour or two?

PG 13 - depends a lot what it is because objectionable scenes can vary so much.
So watch with her and discuss.
Remember the first Jurassic Park movie?
It's PG 13 - and it's a great movie!
Our son went through a dinosaur phase when he was about 4 yrs old.
I was slightly worried it might scare him - but he LOVED IT - and he swore the T Rex would be his friend and give him rides - in spite of it eating a lawyer in the film.

So use some judgement - scope out a movie ahead of time - and they don't get to watch it without you being present.
Little by little, the freedoms and responsibilities get added in.
More freedom means more chores and work.
She's not too young to be in charge of cooking for the family a whole meal once a week and by 13 she should be doing her own laundry.
She wants responsibilities? - fine - give her some - and have her earn her perks.
In 5 short years she'll be an adult - will be able to vote, enlist in the military and/or marry without your permission - or be convicted as an adult if charged with a crime.
All babies grow up sometime - time to start the process!

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D.B.

answers from Boston on

I'd meet her in the middle. If she's 13, she ought to be able to watch most PG 13 movies. I think it matters why a movie gets the rating it has (PG 13, R, etc.) - we distinguished between movies that had swearing (which was okay with us because we figured our kid heard on the school bus and playground all the time) and gratuitous violence (we weren't into a lot of that, although we felt that unrealistic stuff as in Star Wars was preferable to random killing of police or sexual mutilation!). As for sexual stuff, we used it as an opportunity for discussion about what's realistic, what's exploitative of women, what's fantasy/ridiculous, and more. Watch with her. Better that these subjects come up with you than when she's with friends and they are the ones teaching her! If she violates your trust and the increased privileges, then you can revisit your decision and take them away. But she's going to be exposed to a lot more with her friends and classmates than you see in the average PG 13 movie, so better for you to know what she's doing and help her form some values around this before she's in high school!

I'd stick to a sensible bedtime on school nights, and allow more freedom on weekends and vacations. If she's getting up on her own an hour before she needs to (no sticking her iPhone next to her head), then she might be getting enough and you can compromise on 9:30. Maybe the extra hour is allowed if it doesn't involve screen time which tends to stimulate the brain so much that they can't get to sleep when they turn the light off. If she's texting her friends and they're texting her, then other parents may get annoyed.

Start small with some extension of privileges and see how she handles things, getting up on time and also being respectful. While we don't want our kids to see negative things, we often do better if we help them along rather than outright forbidding them as if they will magically be ready for it at 18 without us preparing the way.

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A.D.

answers from Minneapolis on

If she's 13, I'd let her watch PG-13 shows. As far as her staying up later, I would give her an alarm clock and make sure she knows how to use it. Make her responsible for her own waking time. Do not wake her up for school or other plans of hers. There are times I will refuse to act as a human alarm or snooze alarm for my teens. If your daughter oversleeps, or has a difficult time getting up, that's the natural consequence of staying up too late. Personally, I think teenagers are old enough to decide for themselves when they turn their lights out and go to sleep. Sometimes I will establish a time to "close down" the living room though, and if my teens want to stay up, they need to at least move into their own bedrooms

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E.B.

answers from Honolulu on

She may be able to handle staying up until 10. But that means she still gets up on time, is prompt to the school bus or car pool, gets good grades, and is generally responsible and respectful. If she stays up later but starts slipping on things (being tardy to school, missing homework, acting crabby at home) then you simply tell her she lost the privilege of staying up later. Make sure this is all clear before you adjust her bedtime.

And I agree with the PG13 stuff that some have said below. Being able to watch PG13 shows doesn't mean you get to watch any PG13 show, but some are quite harmless. Case by case basis is the best way to go.

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H.W.

answers from Portland on

I think 9 p.m. is fine for a bedtime. She needs rest. I would say that if she can show you that she's getting more than enough sleep (like naturally waking an hour before she needs to) then that would be a reason to move bedtime back. Ultimately, though, the problem is that if it's 10 when she's thirteen, what will she expect when she's 16 or older? Something to think about.

As for tv- I agree with taking it on a case by case basis. We sometimes watch The Simpsons with our 10 year old son. We watch together, talk about the content, what the characters are doing, the choices they make. And frankly, it's a great way to talk about sexual relationships without it getting personal! (I look at in the context of Homer and Marge being in a committed, marital relationship.) I tend not to go so much by ratings, and more about what my parental instinct and wisdom tell me in regard to media.

Don't miss out on an opportunity to have those conversations with your daughter. Believe me, at 13, she's already likely hearing and seeing a LOT more than you realize. Give her the respect and responsibility she demonstrates that she's capable of managing.

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S.G.

answers from Los Angeles on

Bedtime should really be based on what time the child has to get up and how many hours of sleep needed, not just age. At 13 a child needs about 9 hours of sleep. If she needs to get up at 7:00am, then 10:00pm is reasonable. PG 13 is appropriate for a 13 year old, Unless she is very immature or irresponsible you should really be giving age appropriate freedom as she grows.

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C.C.

answers from New York on

A certified babysitter! Well, congratulations on her certification.

Being a "certified babysitter", at age 13, probably means she learned skills like basic CPR, basic fire safety, basic baby care, maybe some ideas for games and crafts, etc. And yes, being capable of those safety skills can make her a "responsible" person for a variety of situations. (Using the definitions: "capable of being trusted", "caring for someone".)

But her certification - and her being responsible/trustworthy/capable of helping children - has absolutely no relationship to (1) her need for X hours of sleep at night, (2) her impressionable young mind and the possible effects of violence and graphic sexuality on her young mind, or (3) her need to respect her mother's rules!

Didn't the babysitting class teach her the importance of "listening to parents"?! ;-)

ETA: As some other posts note, she will soon be getting into years of lots of homework and studying for school. Make sure that you carve out enough study time for a high school student when you think about "bedtime".

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D..

answers from Miami on

If you're going to let her watch PG-13 movies, make her watch them with you. And you talk about the PG-13 issues.

You have the right to take your time with giving her more freedom. But when you do, you must get more responsibility from her. You decide what that is and you require it. She needs to understand that she doesn't get one without the other.

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M.G.

answers from Portland on

I agree with ChaCha on the certification thing. My kids got that - had no bearing on bedtime and TV viewing.

In the summer, where I'm home and so are the kids, bedtime for our teens can be later than during school year. Even so, my teens get themselves to bed on time during the school year - we don't have a set time. Same on weekends - they stay up later.

My kids have been pretty good at self regulating that kind of thing once they hit 12-13. They would prefer to watch a recorded show the next night rather than staying up late and paying for it in the morning.

I don't allow my kids to have friends over without us here, but they too could stay home alone by 13 for sure. They can hang out at the park etc. with friends. I just need to know where they are.

As for the TV, I found mine saw things and played video games at friends' homes (usually where the siblings were older) before I might have been ok with it - they just get exposed to this stuff. We used it as going over stuff moments. One of mine played Call of Duty video game way before I would have wanted them too. I didn't like the gore of killing people. We decided we'd have that friend over here and not go there as the videos weren't monitored there, and I wasn't going to tell that mom what to do.

Ours definitely watch stuff over PG13. We consider it on a show by show (movie by movie) basis. Sometimes we catch them watching stuff we don't consider appropriate. We just say it's not appropriate.

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L.C.

answers from Washington DC on

At 13, my kids were busy and a 9pm bed time wasn't going to work. They had until 10pm and once they hit high school, the onus was on them to figure out how much sleep they needed, how to get to the school bus on time, to keep their grades up, and to be responsible for themselves. That's not to say that we didn't offer suggestions.
As for movies, we always went with them (if they had friends, we sat away from them) because we live to far to drop them off and leave. We discussed anything questionableith them after the fact. We always discussed the plot, etc. anyway...
I think you need to relax a little and give her some responsibility. You could tell her that she can stay up until 10, but the first time she is late for school, the bed time goes back until 9 for a couple of weeks.
Good luck!

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J.B.

answers from Boston on

My middle son is 13 and his bedtime on a school night is still 9 PM. Teenagers need sleep. Older teens don't get enough sleep due to their demanding schedules but for a middle schooler, a target of 9 PM on a school night is still reasonable. On weekends during the school year, my kids stay up until 10 or 11 unless we're getting up at 6 AM or earlier for a hockey game. During the summer, my kids are often up much later because they can sleep as late as they want in the morning.

For shows and movies, my kids have been watching "teen" content for a while. Watch the shows with her if you have concerns but really, it's all mild stuff. That's an area where it sounds like she's due for more freedom.

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C.T.

answers from Santa Fe on

I think you are being a little too strict. Different PG-13 movies have different "mature" themes. Many are perfectly fine. Why don't you start watching some with your daughter. My 13 year old son loves the different marvel comic super hero movies for example. Our kids were able to watch some PG-13 movies even by age 7/8. All the Star Wars movies for example. My 7 year old loved Wonder Woman which just came out. Why do you think she cannot handle PG-13 movies?! She's 13! I would like my son to go to bed at 9pm, but he's just not tired at that time. I tell him he can read in his room if he wants. He usually actually goes to sleep at 10pm every night. You can always give it a try and if she is not tired and gets up on time every day then 10pm might work well for her. It's important to her that you start treating her as the teen she is.

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S.T.

answers from New York on

The whole PG13 thing is a farce. For me it meant that there was content that I often didn't want my 13 to see. the problem is that tv show producers want the PG13 rating becuase it makes tweens want to watch it - and it may have discussions about things you might not want your child to see. If you can, sit and watch a few shows with your daughter so you can see which shows are OK for her. it will also give you an opportunity to talk to her about the issues that come up in the story.
Media and social media is a huge issue with teens these days. Google teens and social media to understand what's impacting our kids these days. Good luck mama. My kids are now 18 and 21 and I'm surprised at how much has changed in media in just the last few years.

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G.♣.

answers from Springfield on

I think bedtime needs to be based on how much sleep she needs rather than, 13 year olds should go to bed at 9. Also, it has to work for the family. My 8 year old tends to get up by 7:30 or 8 not matter what time he goes to be, so I know I need to make sure he gets to bed by 9. My 11 year old will sleep as long as he needs to in order to get enough sleep. But that doesn't always work for me, since I have to be able to get up when my 8 year old does. So, both of them usually need to go to bed around 9 during the summer. During the school year it's earlier since they have to catch a 7:45 bus.

We actually let our kids watch some PG-13 movies, so I would think it's perfectly reasonable for a 13 year old to watch PG-13 movies. My mom wouldn't let me watch them until I turned 13. She never let me watch an R rated movie, but once I was 18 she stopped "allowing" me and started expecting me to make my own decisions.

I think you need to talk to her about specifics. What does she think is fair. Be sure to ask her why and to carefully think about what she has to say. It's perfectly reasonable for her to receive more freedom. The two of you need to be able to talk about this together, and you need to make sure you are being open minded.

No doubt she does deserve more freedom than her 8 year old brother. Your job is to little by little give her more freedom (and responsibility) as you teacher her how to be an independent adult.

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J.C.

answers from Anchorage on

My kids are 11 and 13. During the summer their bed time is 1030-11, during school it is 930 on school nights and 1030 on weekends. This is in line with most of their friends from school so I would say the bedtime extension does not seem unreasonable. The tv rating thing seems also like you are trying to keep her sheltered from the world, my kids watch PG stuff, I just look into why something is rated what it is. If you keep treating her like she is 8 she will rebel.

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