Curfews: Should curfewed kids be allowed to bring friends home?

My 15-year-old daughter is usually a very good girl. She is involved in sports, school and family. However, the dreaded peer pressure does set in every once in awhile. Last night she was at a surprise birthday party. She asked if she could have two of her girlfriends spend the night. This was perfectly fine.

When I went out to walk our puppy at 3 a.m., I saw four boys in our downstairs family room; my daughter and her girlfriends were just goofing around. She has an 11 p.m. curfew. Needless to say, I sent the boys home and told her that we would deal with this issue in the morning.

It is morning, and I am not sure how I want to handle it. I know that I want to ground her for at least two weeks and maybe even take away her phone privileges. What do you think? I do not want her to rebel because we really have good communication.

--Crane
Question:

It is important to set boundaries during the adolescent years, but it is also important to keep communicating. Talk with your daughter about what happened. Technically, she met your rules. She was in by curfew. While having boys in the house after hours was not something you specifically forbid, your daughter probably knew you would not approve. Be specific this time around. Curfew means she is in and uninvited guests are out.

This would be a good time to talk about peer pressure. Did the boys come over unannounced? Did she feel pressured into letting them in? How did her girlfriends react? How would she handle the situation next time around? If you have a good relationship, this event could serve as a catalyst to get you talking about some of the serious issues she might be facing within her peer group.

I would not discipline her too severely, but warn her that the rules have been spelled out and she could face more serious restrictions if she violates them again. Do you know the boys' parents? Some networking might be in order here to find out how these four boys are permitted a 3 a.m. curfew.

-- Margaret Sagarese and Charlene Giannetti, coauthors of The Roller-Coaster Years and Parenting 911

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