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Bedtimes and Curfews (for teens) Issue 383
July 03, 2015
|Hi there! ....
This week has been a very productive week. Daniel had an extra day at TAFE, getting a project to 'bring home' stage though he sill has a little to do on it. He spent one morning rearranging and cleaning out the shed making a space for his workshop - arranged how he would like it, since he is the one using the tools.I'm very excited that he is doing this - cause not only will the shed be tidier but he will take ownership of the space and will enjoy being over there more. He has been very disciplined with his morning studies - each day we discuss what his priorities are, and write up a to-do list for him in his diary. He has tried digital versions of both a diary and a to-do and the paper diary works best for him.
Naomi has had a few interruptions to her days this week, but in the end she completed a beautiful piece of art for a friend's new born baby. Joshua is studying and preparing for a Christian Uni students camp - he is preparing the Bible study sessions. Jessica is housesitting at the moment - practising her life skills on her own - and this weekend had a sleepover with some of the young girls in her Bible study group. My week was a combination of appointments, catching up with friends, and working on behind the scenes stuff for my blog.
Time together as a family is a bit random at the moment - it is a part of adjusting to growing up children. I'm becoming aware that this is the time that we reap from the decisions we made when the kids were younger. Decisions that created a family that enjoyed being together, that talked together, and had fun together. Family time looks different these days, but it is still important to us. One of the things that thrilled my mother-heart this week was to see my kids phone each other for support and advice. They recognise the abilities in each other and depend on each other. I am reminded that family time isn't about just spending time together - it is about building relationships - it isn't about ticking the box saying we've done that for the week - it is about being there for each other.
Whatever your week has been like, whatever your weekend is shaping up to be like - I hope you can find sometime to enjoy the relationships you have in your family.
This week I'm sharing a blog post on Parenting teens and the issue of bedtimes and curfews, you can read it below or click over and read on my blog.
Live life with your Kids!
Parenting Teens with Bedtimes and Curfews
As kids grow older the rules in the family change – and one of the last to change is the parents dropping the set bedtime or having a curfew time. We often set bedtime for our kids based on a cultural norm – and yet, when we do so we are missing the opportunity to teach our kids a life skill and a moral value. Are bedtimes or curfews really necessary? What is the moral lesson going on that we need to make sure our kids understand?
How have you dealt with this aspect of growing up?
In our house when our kids where around 15 (slightly different for each child) we gave them the freedom to choose their own bedtime. We did this because we wanted them to learn to manage their time, limit their own freedoms and live with the consequences of their choices.
My kids have made some poor choices: they’ve stayed up and read books, or watched a movie, or talked to each other till way past their usual bedtime. The consequence? A tired, sluggish day the next day.
This is where it is a bit different for homeschooling families so I offer this caution: Because there are no other external factors dictating the severity of the consequences of having a late night, we must stick to our plans and not let them go just because someone is tired. We cannot afford to say “oh well, you had a late night last night, take it easy today.” That is simply removing the consequences of their choice. When our kids go to school, or have a job to go to the next morning, no one is taking away their responsibilities for that day – they have to turn up and do well regardless of what happened last night.
As my kids grow older their social activities change - they go out more on their own, with their own friends (especially once they get their own car). When it comes to getting home at a decent hour, I treat this much like bedtimes. They need to manage their time wisely. They also need to stay safe, which means driving home before they are too tired. I also like my kids to stay in touch if their plans change, not because I need to know their every movement, but for safety and follow up, should something go wrong. In this day and age of the mobile phone – a text message is a common courtesy.
Teach your teens this as a minimum courtesy.
Staying out too late has the same lifeskill and consequences attached as going to bed late. Our kids have got to learn how to say ‘I gotta go’, how to limit their activities so that they can balance their whole life. When we continue to manage this aspect for them, they don’t get to flex this muscle till they are older and have actually left home, and by that stage they don’t have the support network (you) around them.
It is easy to assume that if they need support we need to bring back the bedtime, bring back the rule. But that is not consistent with the phase of parenting we are living in with teens – instead of being the boss, we are now the coach – guiding and helping our kids to grow strong social, emotional and moral muscles for themselves.
Instead of insisting that they get home earlier, or go to bed earlier our role in teaching these things is to be a prompt – to help our kids see what is going on in their life, to help them understand and front up to the choices they made, and to learn that they can make better choices. It is not about me coming down heavy on them, but rather approaching them in a way that they know that I am on their side, that I want them to succeed, and that I am here to help them.
When I speak of these things (after they have made a poor choice) I am reminding them of the things they may be feeling but haven’t acknowledged to themselves yet, it isn’t just stating the obvious, it is prompting them to think. For example, I could ask: How are you going today? Why do you think you are having a sluggish day today? What can you do about tomorrow? Have you noticed you are sketchy with your sister today? What’s going on?
This is where we have to be VERY careful. Our prompting can quickly descend to nagging. If we come at this issue as correcting, and chiding and annoyed at them, they won’t learn and they certainly won’t take responsibility for their time management. Instead we need to prompt them to think about the choices they are making, in light of the consequences they are living. We become a bit like a conscience – sitting on their shoulder prompting them to think about the choices they made last night and the consequences they are facing in the morning. As they reflect on those two – and maybe add a thought as to what could have happened last night, they will start to appropriate these thoughts and make better choices.
What if they don’t? Of course, there will always be the child who just doesn’t care! They are tired, but the party was worth it!! The issue here, isn’t that they stayed up late, but rather they are being irresponsible with their day. This isn’t an issue of simply not having enough sleep – they don’t care what happens in their day. We need to make sure we don’t get stuck on a particular issue; instead, we need to really read what is going on in our teen’s heart. Are they being irresponsible with their sleep or are they being careless about their responsibilities during the day? Don’t presume it is one over the other – observe and talk it over with your teen.
Parents can harp on (and yes, our kids hear it as harping) about getting to bed on time, but when we talk about the consequence, the struggle, the failed efforts, the touchy temperaments and how that affects relationships – these are the things they’ve got to consider, these are the things they have to learn how to manage and making a rule isn’t going to help them grow. They need to learn to be responsible.
Other blog posts I've written recently:
Parenting outside the box Children, this means we really have to think about our parenting in terms of the individual child.
Create a Reminder Wall - visual prompts for the heart lessons you are teaching your children. It will remind you as well as the kids!
Speak all 5 Love Languages - if we are going to be effective in showing love to others we need to speak all 5 languages.
Blending Life with Lessons e-book - Does your everyday life challenge your homeschool ideas? This is my journey as I discover that it is possible to disciple my children in today's busy lifestyle.
Heart Focus Parenting book/e-book - A heart focused parent will keep their attention on their child's heart for God, instead of on external behaviours.
Restoring the Heart, Mind and Soul of Christmas Do your Christmas celebrations line up with what you believe? Do your celebrations help your children learn more about Jesus?
This e-book is based on a workshop I held for a couple of years to help families see that Christmas can be a significant tradition in our family life. If we are intentional about how our family celebrates we have the opportunity to use this time to teach our children about Jesus, and his love for each one of us.
Contact me: If you have any comments, questions or content ideas I'd love to hear from you.
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About Live Life with your kids Newsletter
Live life with your Kids newsletter is about being a deliberate parent, about enjoying family life and using the opportunities that happen to teach and train your children in righteousness (right living with God). I hope that you will find regular encouragement as you live life with your kids!
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