When your kids were little, as bedtime approached, your kids would whine, "just 5 more minutes pleeeese!! Now fast-forward ten years and the whine is still there, but now it's about computer/video/phone time and curfew. A parent related the following story to me yesterday. As Monday was a school holiday, her 16 year old daughter was off to a party on Sunday night. The agreed upon curfew was 11:15 PM. The ride home was prearranged, a call to the home of the party to confirm that parents would be supervising the party had been made, and all was well in the land. Mom and Dad confident that the plan for the night was in place awaited their daughter's return. At precisely 11:15 the phone rings. " Hi guys, can I sleep over, every one's sleeping over, pleeese!!! M&D are not pleased. The "everybody else's parents says its alright" defense never plays well with them, and how come she waited till the exact minute she was to be home to call with the request. There was a resounding "NO" from the parenting unit. The posturing went on for some time, the arguing, and the you better get your "a## home capped off the multiple phone calls, and that was that. The daughter returned home an hour later than the agreed upon curfew. Parents, too tired to deal with consequences took their daughters cellphone away and were prepared to ground her for a TBD which they would hand down the following morning. For now..bed.
OK, yes this whole incident is annoying. Why is it that kids can't seem to be on top of this time thing and wait till the last minute to inform/request changes? Sometime it's because they are completely unaware of time living wholly in the moment. Sometimes it's because they know that when they wait till the last minute, they have a better chance to get what they want, leaving you fewer options. Either you cave to the "everybody else's parents say its OK" or you tell then to get their a##es home, but either way they have stayed out later than the agreed upon time and you have been played.
Here is a simple solution. Let your kids know that if they wait to call you for curfew/plan adjustments until the time they were supposed to be home, they answer will always be NO. This makes life very simple. If they call you within an hour of the previously agreed upon time, you will at least listen to the request. Here is your 'I get it" moment. You say to your teen: I get that plans change, and that you may need some adjustment in when you need to get home. But if you wait till the time you are supposed to be home to call and ask, I will always say no. You need to give me some notice, what works for you, 30 minutes before curfew, 1 hour you decide. But here is the thing, if you call me at curfew time, the answer will be no, and however late you are for curfew, you will be docked next time out."
Curfew times should be fluid in general to avoid this kind of interaction altogether. Deciding together using the "4 questions" discussed in What Kind Of Parent Are You-part 4 will help. But as in the example above, if the system had been in place, the daughter would have had to call by 10:45 or 10:15 for the request to have even been considered. The work here is teaching kids to be responsible for their behavior. This is not just for when they are teenagers but also as they move into adulthood. Consideration and responsibility are qualities you hope your teen develops in abundance. How many adults do you know who are always late for your dinners or change plans with you at the last minute? I'm guessing that as teens they were not held accountable for their time, and now feel free to make and keep their own timetables. This is not about taking control as a parent, but it is about teaching consideration.