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Obnoxious Teen Revolts and a Reasonable Curfew

Dr. Catherine Pearlman on

Dear Family Coach: My wife and I have four kids ranging in age from 10 to 16 years old. Everyone is so busy. I wanted to have one night of the week when we are all together for game night. Everyone is excited about it except for my oldest. At 16, he'd rather be with his friends on Friday night. Every time we try to get together, he is incredibly obnoxious and rude, and after a while we dismiss him because he is ruining it for everyone. Should we let him out of the family night or continue to require it regardless of his behavior? -- Gamers

Dear Gamers: Jee, I wonder why your son acts up on game night. Could it be because he's learned that being obnoxious helps him avoid annoying family time? Of course he'd rather be with his friends. For teens, their friends are their world. Sorry, folks, you aren't it anymore. Accept you son's desire to want to fly the coup. Allow it. But don't let him flee without a tether to bring him back sometimes.

Organizing a family game night on Friday night is setting yourself up for failure. Friday and Saturday nights are when teens hang out and do whatever it is that teens like to do. It isn't a night to require him to stay home. You would have more success on a Sunday or Monday evening. Maybe Sunday brunch might also work.

Decide on a better time when your son is likely to be chilling at home. Tell him in no uncertain terms that he is required to be with the family for an hour. He doesn't have to play, but he can't have headphones in or read a book either. He will whine and complain ad nauseam. Ignore it all. Don't reinforce his obnoxious behavior. Wait him out, and reengage him as soon as he stops complaining. Eventually, he will realize that he can't get out of playing and that sitting around is boring. Give it time, and wait for him to join the group.

Dear Family Coach: My 16-year-old son thinks I'm strict because his friends' parents don't impose any rules. I set a 10:30 p.m. curfew. He had a breakdown and said I don't understand how it is for kids. What's a reasonable time to have your kid home during his junior year? -- Stricter Mom

Dear Mom: It's hard to compete with the parents who don't impose any rules. It's possible his friends' parents let their kids run around town like feral animals all day and night. Or, more likely, your son is exaggerating every time he doesn't like your rules.

Before setting the curfew, hear him out. He may have very legitimate reasons why a 10:30 p.m. curfew is ridiculous. Sometimes parties don't start until 9:30 p.m. If that were the case, he would be there for 30 minutes before having to turn around to make your deadline.

Keep in mind that your son will likely be in college in less than two years. He won't have a curfew or anyone waiting up for him at night. Think about the time between now and then as preparation. Give him a little leeway where you can on occasion. If he responds well and manages himself responsibly, then allow him more freedom in the future. Take baby steps. He will appreciate your willingness to give him more time out with his friends. In return, he will hopefully abide by your rules and regulation with fewer complaints.


Dr. Catherine Pearlman, the founder of The Family Coach, LLC, advises parents on all matters of child rearing. To write to Dr. Pearlman, send her an email at To find out more about Dr. Catherine Pearlman and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

Copyright 2017 Creators Syndicate Inc.


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