One summer day I remember my college-aged son standing in the garage with my husband and me. Our son was more than a little miffed with us. His annoyance stemmed from him wanting to know why he had a curfew when he didn’t have one when he lived on campus. In his mind it wasn’t fair. We were treating him like a child even though he was legally an adult.
My son didn’t like it that we had put boundaries in place, especially when he had freedoms in other areas of his life.
And as the great debate continued as to why he had to honor our wishes, my husband paused and casually said, “Out of respect.”
Suddenly my son was silent and I’ll admit I had no idea where my husband was going with this conversation. What does respect have to do with curfew?
“Son, I know that you have freedom at school. I also know that you are a fine, upstanding young man. But I’m asking you to honor our curfew and here is why:
- This is our home and not a college dorm room. We operate as a family and there need to be rules. While living in our house, we ask that you abide by the same rules everyone else operates under.
- Your younger siblings are watching you. They will learn respect from your compliance or disregard for our family rules.
- This house belongs to your mother and me. I work hard and have to get up early. My sleep, as well as your mother’s, is important to this family and I know this is probably hard for you to understand, but if you are out and not physically here when we go to bed, we don’t sleep as well and it impacts the next day.
- I work to pay for your clothing, your food, the car you drive, and your college. I hope that all these things garner your respect.
- There will always be rules. When you have a career, your boss will have expectations. Those who are respectful get to keep their jobs.”
There was a long pause.
“Wow, Dad, that makes a lot of sense. Thanks for explaining it to me.”
I’ll admit that I was shocked at how well that conversation went. And I learned a valuable lesson as a parent that day.
We need to help our kids understand that honoring the rules and respecting curfew means that they are respecting themselves, their family, and the families of the kids they would be hanging out with.
More on that in another post.
When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, but when the wicked rule, the people groan.
While I can’t guarantee that your conversation will go like this one did–and know that it probably won’t depending on your teen’s maturity. Hopefully it will give you a new way to think about the rules and boundaries you set for your home and the conflict that surfaces as our kids start pushing the limits.
Dare you to think about your rules differently. How can you connect them to respect?
“Let go…and Let God”,
Looking for other ways to teach your kids respect? Check out With All Due Respect: 40 Days to a More Fulfilling Relationship with your Teens & Tweens.