My seventeen-year-old son comes and goes as often as he likes. What bothers me most is his habit of coming home at very late hours. He has a curfew of 1am but usually ignores it. On the advice of friends and even a couple of family members I have taken his key and let him wait outside when he came home long after curfew. One time he could see that we were awake and kept banging on the door and ringing the doorbell. It was very upsetting, but we didn’t let him in until morning. What should I be doing next to deal with his behaviour?
You should be giving him his key back immediately. Of course, it is upsetting. Locking a teenage son or daughter out must be the worst piece of advice a parent can get. Here are important things for you to consider.
- Check on the credentials of the people who are advising you to lock your son out. Are these people sitting with you while you are tormented by the sound of your son knocking at the door?
- Who decided on the arbitrary time of 1am for a curfew? Do you think that he cannot get into trouble before 1am?
- Examine how this helps your relationship with your son. If the environment at home were more appealing, he might stay home occasionally.
- Check out how this plan is working. Has he started coming home at curfew?
- Examine how your life with him is better since locking him out.
Your son is 17 years old. Give him his key. Tell him that he’s old enough to be responsible about coming home. Tell him you love him and want him to be safe and that you know he is smart enough to be careful. Ask that he come in as quietly as possible. Let him know that you’re ok with him having a friend or two over once in a while. Give him something to live up to, your opinion of him is more important than you realize.
Start living your own life. Read a book, call a friend or plant a garden. The choices are endless. In this way you DEMONSTRATE how responsible and contented people live. Your son will have more respect for you when he sees that you have a satisfying life of your own, and you owe this to him. I cannot stress how important this last comment is.