When your child becomes an adult, it changes the dynamics in the house. You may want to enforce rules for your 21-year-old child, but feel that they may not be receptive to the rules. Setting a curfew is a rule that some parents are hesitant to set, but shouldn’t be. A curfew for a 21-year-old living at home is important depending on the situation at hand.
Rules Are Important
What do setting rules accomplish?
Rules are important for maintaining peace and creating a family environment conducive to living and working in harmony. Setting rules help deter off problems before they arise. Additionally, setting rules after a problem arises helps to prevent the problem from happening again.
If you don’t establish rules for your household, you are in danger of creating a situation that will make you resentful toward your child.
Because your child will be unaware that something they are doing is frustrating you, they will continue to do whatever it is that’s making you unhappy. Setting a rule can prevent this from happening because it establishes what the problem is and how to prevent it in the future.
House rules are effective only when everyone in the house is following them. Setting household rules is something every household should do so that every member of the family is aware of what’s expected of them. Be sure that you follow the rules as well because if you don’t follow the rules, it signals to your child that they don’t have to follow them either!
Factors to Consider in Setting a Curfew
The first factor to consider is why you are setting a curfew in the first place.
Did your child come home late and disrupt the family? Do you stay up worrying at night because you don’t know where your adult child is? There can be many reasons why you want to set a curfew for a 21-year-old living at home.
Consider what has been bothering you about your adult child being out of the house before you set their curfew. You should always have a valid reason why a certain rule should be followed at home.
If your child came home late and disrupted the family, you will want to set a curfew that everyone follows so that nobody is coming home and disrupting everyone. This is particularly important if people have to go to school or work because disruptions can mean poor sleep.
Additionally, if you have a family pet, the family pet may be disruptive when someone comes home which can create problems as well. Set the curfew at a time when everybody is winding down so that nobody is coming in after family members are in bed.
If you stay up late worrying about your child’s whereabouts, it might be disrupting your sleep. Setting a curfew can help because you’ll know when your child is supposed to be home. Additionally, asking your child to text you if they are going to be somewhere other than where they initially went can help alleviate some worry.
There are a variety of other reasons you might want to set a curfew with some factors including:
Do you trust your adult child?
If you do, you can be reasonably sure that they are going where they say they are. If you don’t trust your child to tell you the truth, setting a curfew is even more important because you can’t be sure where they are going or what activities they’re partaking in.
Trust is a very important factor when it comes to parents and their children when making decisions like setting a curfew so this has to be a big factor.
Does your child generally tell you where they are going?
If so, you might just set a curfew dependent on where they are going. A curfew for going to see a movie with a friend might be very different from a curfew for being at a party.
If your child is generally in a safe space when they are out, you might feel more comfortable with them having a later curfew. Whereas, if they are somewhere that you feel is unsafe, you might want to set an earlier curfew.
Does your child go to parties or drink at night?
If so, you may want to set an earlier curfew. This will prevent them from being able to stay out drinking at all hours. Additionally, many parties are late at night so if you don’t want them to be in that type of environment, an earlier curfew can get them home before the parties even start.
Is your child a college student?
Perhaps you only need to set a curfew for when they are visiting or at home for longer periods of time such as over summer break. If you know that they have classes to attend at an earlier time, a curfew would be appropriate to ensure that they are up and awake for class.
Does your child work?
If so, you might want to set a curfew that allows them to get a good night’s sleep before they have to get up for work. Just like school, you have to be aware of what is going on around you and if you are coming off a short amount of time sleeping, it can be dangerous for you and other workers especially if it’s a job that involves labor.
How To Establish Boundaries With Your 21-Year-Old
Most 21-year-old’s are independent and value their freedom. In exploring the boundaries of what they can do, they might forget about how their actions impact others. Setting boundaries is critical because it signals what the limits are.
At the first mention of a new rule or boundary, your adult child might recoil or be resistant to following the new rule. This is expected because as you know, a 21-year-old will be expecting to have all the freedom they think they deserve so backlash from a new rule should be expected.
It isn’t impossible to implement this though and with a few easy steps, you can make sure that a certain rule is followed. So how can you set boundaries effectively in such a way that your 21-year-old will listen and comply with the rule?
1. Have a Discussion
The first step is to sit down and discuss why the rule is necessary. Explain how the boundary you are setting will create harmony in the household. You should also be open to questions and suggestions that your adult child has to offer.
If you can, allow your adult child to have input into what their curfew is. Your adult child will be more likely to follow the curfew if they have a say in what it is.
The next step is to be open to change. Perhaps the curfew you have set is creating problems for your adult child because they have to work a late shift at work. Be willing to adjust the curfew if there is a good reason for it.
Being flexible shows your child that you aren’t trying to be punitive, but rather are trying to create a peaceful household. If the boundary becomes a source of contention between you and your adult child, you may have to consider consequences if your adult child won’t comply with the rules.
Consequences can include a limit of their freedom when going out or additional household chores every time they break the rule. You must be consistent with the consequences because if you don’t follow through with consequences, it shows your adult child that it’s okay to break the rules and that there is no follow-through.
At an extreme, you may have to consider asking your adult child to move out if they simply won’t follow the household rules. This should of course be a last resort. The goal is to get your adult child to follow the rules, not to create an extreme disruption to everyone’s lives. Not to mention, forcing your child to move out could create animosity between the two of you.
Curfews can help to establish routine and harmony in a household where a lot of people live. Setting a curfew for a 21-year-old living at home can be difficult because they may resist change.
A way you can combat that is to be open to discussing it with your child and coming to a curfew that works for both of you. Whatever curfew you decide to set, be sure to be consistent with your rules and to implement consequences if necessary.