Reach an agreement
It’s often a good idea to sit down and discuss a suitable “home by” time with your teenager. Be clear about why prearranged times are important and the sort of things you worry about. Listen to what your child thinks, to their opinions. You don’t absolutely have to agree – children expect parents to have the final say. But once you’ve talked about it together, most teenagers say they find it easier to stick to an agreement and come home on time. If your teenager repeatedly ignores what you’ve agreed, talk to them about agreements which are, fundamentally, about showing each other respect. And try and trust that your child is hearing what you say, even if you don’t get a response then and there.
As adults, we have a shared responsibility for creating the climate in which our children grow up. It’s not always easy, but if the parents discuss the issues before problems arise, it does make life considerably easier.
Lotta Hjalmarsson Österholm, Drug Prevention Coordinator, Östergötland County Council
Talk to other parents
One of the most commonly used arguments by teenagers on the subject of why teenagers don’t like prearranged times is that “everyone else is allowed to…”. But that’s usually just a perception that a lot of teenagers share. One way of dealing with this can be to talk to the parents of some of your teenager’s friends about establishing a shared set of rules. This also makes life easier for your teenagers, because they can all come home together. But you don’t have to do what everyone else does – the most important thing is you stick to your principles.
I sometimes tell my parents that I'm going to see someone they know so that I can stay out longer.
Simon, aged 16, Umeå
Present a united front
It’s important to be consistent if you’re going to ensure that your teenager doesn’t lose respect for the whole prearranged time thing. If one parent says that the teenager can come home at 01.30 when the other has said 23.30, it sends mixed signals. It’s worth striving to present a united front, even if you share custody of a teenager.
A good relationship between parents and their children is the most important thing in ensuring a child doesn’t start drinking. Clarity is also incredibly important. Your child has to know what the rules are and what you expect of them.
Håkan Fransson, Drug Prevention Officer, Öckerö Municipality
Set an interval
The whole “coming home at a precise time” thing can be difficult, and that’s not just true for teenagers. Something could happen en route – the bus might be late, or the walk home might take longer than expected. So try and show a bit of tolerance when your teenager is 15 minutes late home.