My Teenage Son Comes Home Late

Raising teenagers today is different from what it has been in the past, but in many ways, the parent-teen relationship is very much the same. Enforcing curfews has been a heated topic of discussion between parents and teens for many decades. If your teenage son comes home late, taking the steps to ensure that he isn’t doing anything bad is important.

Teenagers have been long prone to defiance. Some are in a constant struggle between their bond with their parents and their need to be independent.

Parents, desperate to hold on to control over a child they don’t believe ready to be on their own, often push too hard and get the opposite results with their teens.

Enforcing curfew with teenagers is not just about their safety and the parent’s peace of mind, but it’s also about teaching your teen how to develop self-control, time management, and the ability to make good choices.

So how do you approach a teenager who doesn’t stick to curfew? It can be a tricky situation, but there are ways to address the situation that can not only help the teenager make better choices but also strengthen the parent-teen relationship.


Starting your teen early with the idea of curfews is a good idea.

Children usually start to gain more independence as pre-teens, which is the perfect time to start implementing curfews. Be specific and consistent with the rules as well as the precise consequences of not following them.

Keeping to this consistency of setting expectations and following through with consequences will teach a child that your rules are unwavering long before they reach those older teen years where the lines of parental control become more blurred.

As your teen enters those older years, it is increasingly important to create a different type of bond with them than the one you had in those earlier years. The bonding process with a teenager can help transition both parent and child into a solid relationship as they become an adult.

The Teen-Parent Bond

Being the parent of a teenager can be one of the most anxiety-ridden ordeals one can go through. Fraught with constant worrying, regret, and the back-and-forth struggle for dominance over their freedoms, it can be difficult to know what exactly is going on in their lives and what you are supposed to have control over.

Breaking curfew is more than likely an emotional ordeal for parents more than teenagers because they are worried for their safety.

What is rattling around in a parent’s head as they wait by the door for their overly-late teen to come home? It is most definitely: “What are they up to?” A strong bond with your teenager can keep this question from being necessary and help the teenager understand why their curfew is important to both of you.

Teens believe they are adults long before they are and crave the satisfaction of making their own rules for their lives.

It is a time when the balance of power shifts and can often leave parents feeling helpless and lost. Creating a more mature bond with your teen can help alleviate some of that stress for both parties.

Here are 3 ways you can form a bond with your teenager.

1. Form mutual respect

This means giving your teenager honest feedback and not being surprised or angry when you get honest feedback in return.

The wise man knows that he doesn’t know everything, but the teenager thinks they know everything. Treat them like an adult if that is what your teen needs, but expect them to act like one in return.

2. Practice being a great listener

Teenagers can be emotional and complicated. Sometimes what they say is a far cry from what they mean.

If your teen knows you will listen to them with the intent to understand and avoid judging them, they are more likely to open up to you.

3. Spend actual quality time together

In the teenage years, it can often feel like the parents take a backseat to everything else. Friends, activities, even social media seem more important to a teenager.

Getting to occasionally do something fun with your teenager, like laser tag or a concert they want to go to, gives you time to bond outside of your normal routine.

When The Rules Are Broken

Unless you have found the magic formula to get your child to be perfect, they are going to break curfew. You will find yourself sitting by the front door, mulling over exactly what kind of chewing-out your kid is going to get when they come through that door.

Or you are frantically calling every number you know, terrified that something has happened to them.

When your teenager finally comes home, you have worked yourself into a frenzy that erupts in a screaming match of epic proportions.

You both say things you don’t mean at the time and either your teenager leaves the house again to avoid more conflict or you both go to bed angrier than you’ve ever been.

None of this scenario ends well, because it is based on the building emotional turmoil you have been stirring all night.

Attempting to force your teen to stop breaking curfew by confronting them the second they step through the door never works out and, more often than not, makes the whole thing worse.

Think, instead, that if you saw that teenager finally come home and calmly told them “I’m glad you’re safe, we will talk about this tomorrow”, you avoid letting either your or your teen’s emotions cloud the issue.

The next day, after you are both rested, you approach the issue with only reason.

1. Let your teen know that breaking their curfew is unacceptable.

Don’t forget to include why following a curfew is important to you as a parent and why it is important for them.

Keep in mind that it is likely probable that what is of the utmost importance to you (their safety) might not be even in the top five of your teenager’s priorities.

2. Let your teen know that there will be consequences for breaking curfew going forward.

Use fail-proof consequences that you have complete control over. If your teen knows how to get around the punishment, it will not be effective.

Offer to help your teenager problem solve what can be done to avoid breaking curfew again and prevent having to enforce consequences. You can enforce curfew while letting your teenager know that you care about them and want to understand why they keep staying out late.

When To Seek Help

If your teenage son comes home late even after you told him not to and he is also refusing to answer your calls or texts, don’t be afraid to contact the police.

They must know that you will contact the police if you are concerned with their safety. Although it shouldn’t be used as a threat, responding accordingly when your teen’s safety is in question is a must.

An Issue Of Individuality

Your teenage son coming home late is an issue of individuality.

What to do about this issue depends entirely upon the individual teen and their relationship with their parents.

Some tactics, like punishing them by taking away their phones or making them stay in when their friends are out having fun will only cause a bigger issue down the line. Taking away their phones will leave them without a way to contact you in case of an emergency and that is the last thing you want as a parent.

Your teenage son coming home late is an issue that can be fixed.

Overall, the best way to handle this type of defiance is by discussing the importance of the curfew, setting the expectations, and setting specific consequences ahead of time so they cannot be surprised by it.

Be consistent with your follow through and don’t make idle threats. Teenagers will always call your bluff and push to see where their limits truly are.

Related: What is a good curfew for a 19 year old

Final Thoughts – my teenage son comes home late

Coming home late as a teenager is one of the biggest concerns parents have.

The worry the comes to every parent’s mind is something they wish they can avoid but unfortunately, the teenage years are some of the best times to create memories as a youngin and no one would want to miss an opportunity of that.

This is why approaching this subject in a logical way rather than using emotion is key. You want to make an understanding with your teenage rather than have a conflict.

At the end of the day, all you want for your child is to be safe, come home early, and have fun so if you set up a system that allows all of that to happen, you will not face any issues.