I was starting to get a little bit antsy. Brett and I were laying in bed like a couple of old fogies, reading glasses perched at the ends of our noses, books in our laps. "Do you think she's okay?" I asked.
"Of course she is. We know exactly where she is," Brett assured me. Our 18 year old had left the house to visit some friends a couple hours ago. I had expected her home long before this. It was past midnight, and still no Alex.
"Well, don't you think maybe we should set a curfew for her? I mean, it's past midnight. Why would she still be over there?"
Brett replied, "She is trustworthy, and she's with other trustworthy people. There is no need to set a curfew. Leave her alone; she's having fun." Hmmm. Still, I tossed a bit, and Brett finally texted her just to relieve my worries. Sure enough, she was still with our friends, laughing and talking and having a grand time. There had been no need to worry.
Brett's opinion about curfews, though, started me thinking. He had a point. Curfews are for people who can't be trusted hanging out with people who can't be trusted. They aren't for Christ-honoring, parent-obeying kids like the ones we are trying to raise.
Douglas Wilson, in his excellent audio series on raising teens, says that parents these days have parenting backwards. We let the little guys slide, laughing at their "cute" sin, and then we have to come down hard on them when they become young adults. Rather, he challenges, we need to ride our little people hard, not letting one sin register on the giggle-meter, and when they become young adults, we take off the reins, open the doors, and say, "There's the big, wide world. Have at it, kiddo!"
I couldn't agree more.
A few years ago, when our oldest had just learned to drive, we sent the older three off to a graduation party that lasted...and lasted...and lasted...all afternoon and into the night. We had a similar conversation that night, Brett and I. And that had been the first time Brett had said, "No way. We're not calling them. We know where they are and who they're with. They're having fun. Leave them alone." And you know what? He was right. They were having fun, swimming, playing speed volleyball, pigging out on lasagna. And they were with good people.
I've come to understand that the goal for young adults is not to set a reasonable curfew. It's to have instilled such a hunger for integrity in them that curfews are simply not necessary. It's to train them to understand that bad company corrupts good morals and that no friends are better than bad friends. It's to help them understand that character is who you are when no one is looking.
If we can succeed at that, we can have homes that are 100% curfew free.
But...how do we do that, exactly?...