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How does parental responsibility fit into the enforcement of curfew laws? My son does not seem to understand that I could get in trouble for his actions. I am very upset.
Not all jurisdictions are the same. Before you escalate this issue with your son, make sure you have the facts. Call your local police department’s nonemergency line and ask about the ordinance.
But realize that regardless of the prevailing laws, your problem is the same. This isn’t a legal issue. It’s a disobedience issue. If the authorities can punish you for your son’s curfew violations, that simply gives you an extra incentive to ensure that he doesn’t break curfew.
If you already have a discipline problem with your son, don’t expect the specter of your own legal problems to faze him. Attack this problem at the source, and take steps to change your son’s conduct.
If you have a house rule regarding curfew on the books, start enforcing it vigorously. If you have no such rule, set one up. Come up with a punishment that has teeth, then administer it whenever your son stays out too late. It might be grounding, it might be denial of computer, TV, or phone access. It might be spanking, it might be extra chores or math worksheets or the cancelation of a party or other special event.
Right now, your son appears to be staying out too late despite the knowledge that a penalty must be paid. That probably means the penalty is not sufficiently harsh. Your job is to make the penalty stiff enough that your son will choose to come home on time rather than pay the price. Let your son know that if he keeps staying out late, you’ll take away something important to him, whether it be his freedom or his possessions or his time. Then, when he breaks the rules, do exactly what you promised. Repeat the process until his behavior changes.
My 11-year-old daughter was invited to go to Disney World with her friend over the summer. I’m still trying to decide if I should let her go. She is very responsible, and I know the other parents well. When I was growing up, we never dared ask our parents to let us invite a friend on a family vacation. Even though she is invited, would it still be rude of my daughter to “invade” their family vacation? Of course, my older daughter is very jealous of this opportunity, though I don’t think that’s enough of a reason not to let the younger girl go. What should I do?
Don’t worry about intruding. While your family did not invite friends on vacations, many families look at this issue differently. Talk to the parents and don’t just accept the girl’s invitation as genuine. But if the parents permitted the invitation, then your daughter is not intruding.
You said you know the girl and the parents. If you trust them and believe they will take good care of the girls during the trip, then consider allowing your daughter to go.
The more troubling issue here is the older sister, who has ample reason to be jealous. An invitation to tag along on a family vacation with friends is the holy grail for children. Lots of fun with little responsibility. Your older daughter’s envy is understandable. But you are right to conclude that her discomfiture alone is not sufficient reason to deny the younger sister her chance for a great vacation.
Disappointment is a fact of life. It sounds harsh, but every child (and adult) must learn to cope with not getting what they want. Your older daughter will just have to deal with it. It falls to you to ensure that the jealously doesn’t devolve into persecution or fighting about the vacation. At some point, the older daughter will receive a gift or earn a privilege that the younger daughter may not share. At that point, your girls will both learn the other half of the lesson.
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