To give an 18 (almost 19) year old a curfew?

(41 Posts)
Muchadoaboutnuthing Sat 09-Feb-13 13:06:10

We have an 18 year old foster d. She rarely goes out at night, maybe once a month but she has started coming home really late (e.g last month it was 5.30 a.m. and last night she didnt come home at all). She also lies about where she is going and who she is with. Until now we have tried talking to her and giving consequences for the behaviour, last time we grounded her for a fortnight, but nothing seems to be working.

She has been with us for 2 years and is supposed to be staying until the end of summer. WIBU to tell her if she's going out she needs to be back by 2 a.m. from now until June (thats when her exams are). If it was a younger teen I wouldn't hesitate but she's almost 19 and it seems a bit over the top. Chances are she wont stick to the curfew anyway but we've tried everything else.

OpheliasWeepingWillow Sat 09-Feb-13 13:11:28

Hmmmm. Bit old for a curfew but not too old for house rules.

My parents would simply wake me for a full English at 7am no matter how late I had been out the night before. Duvet off, windows open (mid winter too), stereo downstairs with loud classical music and made it clear that only whiners could not cope with getting up for breakfast.

Worked to be honest! No one wants a kipper two hours after the last tequila.

Booyhoo Sat 09-Feb-13 13:13:08

why do you need her back in at 2am? you need to be able to have a valid reason for this other than just "because 2am is late enough"

tbh at 18/19 she really is responsible for managing her own time, gettig enough sleep, getting up on time etc. so the only thing i would be insisting on is that she let you know if she expected to be back or if she was staying elsewhere so that you weren't awake all night worrying.

there will be some that will say "your house, your rules" but she is also a member of the family and at 18 should not be getting grounded like an adolescent. she is an adult. as long as she isn't coming in and waking up the rest of the house it really isn't an issue that she is staying out late.

Pandemoniaa Sat 09-Feb-13 13:13:29

I don't think you can ground someone who is legally an adult or give them a curfew. I realise that things may be complicated by the fact that she is your foster dd and is, perhaps, rather more vulnerable.

However, it is not U to have expectations all the time she lives in your house and certainly, letting you know where she is if she doesn't plan to come home would be quite reasonable. Otherwise you'll just worry, regardless of her age. I know that when my dcs were that age and at college they didn't have a weekend curfew but I did expect weeknights to be spent closer to home and for them to concentrate on working towards their exams. I was lucky. They were honest about where they went and with who but it's always difficult making rules for 18 year olds.

Delayingtactic Sat 09-Feb-13 13:22:24

I think she's too old for curfews and groundings. I would just want to know where she is and the expectation that if she's stopping out she let you know.

Wishihadabs Sat 09-Feb-13 13:22:59

I think YABU to give her a curfew. YANBU that lets you know if she is staying out by say 1am so you don't worry. If you can't stay out all night at 18/19/20 I don't know when you can TBH. Ahh happy days...

Muchadoaboutnuthing Sat 09-Feb-13 13:23:58

Thanks for the replies. Its a difficult situation probably more so due the fact shes in care. She went out last night, still isnt back, no idea where she is. The police dot take it too seriously because of her age, the social workers on the other hand take it extremely seriously and say that shes not being kept safe, which is a fair point.

The last time she stayed out for the night she put herself in a really dangerous situation and the sw threatened that the placement would have to come to an end. We're really trying to keep the placement secure until she does her exams as we worry that without a foster placement her education will probably come to an end.

Booyhoo Sat 09-Feb-13 13:24:11

i think if you relax a bit more OP and just let it be seen that you wont have a breakdown if she says she's going somewhere you mightn't want her too then she is less likely to lie about it in teh first place.

teens are very good at knowing what they need to do to get where they want to be. my mum was/is quite uptight and controlling. she imposed 11pm curfews when i was 18 so i just stayed out all night rather than coming in late and dealing with her going off on a rant at 1am. she essentially created the opposite of what she wanted, she wanted to know where i was and who with etc but the way she went about it meant that i wasn't going to be honest with her and so she might have thought i was at best friends studying when i was actually out getting pissed with people she didn't know. she mightn't have liked the idea of it but if i could have depended on her not to explode i might have been more willing to be honset about where i was and she then would have known.

ask yourself what is important to you. controlling where she goes and being lied to, or accepting that she will do things you dont want her to but at least you know where she is and who with?

Muchadoaboutnuthing Sat 09-Feb-13 13:31:02

Booyhoo, I see your point and its not about controlling her, its about keeping her safe. She's been allowed to stay at her boyfriends house in the past for example, she told me she was staying there and when I mentioned it in passing to his mum it turned out she hadnt stayed there at all, but with a much older guy she met online.

She has quite a lot of freedom, we tell her over and over again that she can go out, have her sleep overs etc but needs to tell us where she is. Thats not happening. Last night she went out, said she wouldnt be late. Texted me at 3 to say she was staying at her friends. I said that was fine, I'd collect her at 11 this morning. I went down and her friend says she went off with some guy last night and has no idea where she is now. The police won't look for her which is fair enough because of her age, but we're worried sick after what happened last time.

Wishihadabs Sat 09-Feb-13 13:35:07

Muchado does she not have a phone ? I am sorry to hear she is putting herself in danger. I agree with Booy hoo you can and should insist that she tells you where she is and if she is staying out. I hope she is ok

Wishihadabs Sat 09-Feb-13 13:38:55

X posts. I see you are concerned about her risk taking behavior, particularly her sexual risk taking rather than just staying out dancing or whatever (as I did). Have you explicitly explained your concerns. I don't really see what else you can do as she is an adult.

wednesdaygirl Sat 09-Feb-13 13:39:30

I met my now husband at 19 (he was my first boyfriend) and i never really went out at night till i met him but the rule was if i went out i had to be in by 10pm shock

Never occured to me to be late or stay at his (damm) gringrin

MrsMushroom Sat 09-Feb-13 13:39:59

She's an adult she can in effect be with whatever man she chooses. However, meeting men on the internet is awfully silly and she needs re-telling about this.

But you can't really tell an adult not to come in later than a certain her age I was always off with some guy tbh.

Pandemoniaa Sat 09-Feb-13 13:47:28

The last time she stayed out for the night she put herself in a really dangerous situation and the sw threatened that the placement would have to come to an end.

I think that you have to have this conversation with her. She's old enough to understand the consequences of her behaviour and although you don't want her placement to fail, she's got to contribute herself to the success of it.

Booyhoo Sat 09-Feb-13 13:48:34

ok, in that case a curfew wont help. she'll just ignore it as there isn't really anything you can do to enforce it is there.

keep the lines of communication open, keep conversations relaxed. as hard as it may be dont let her see that you are itching for her to stop meeting these men as that could just act as an incentive to do it more.

do you think she is doing it to test the boundaries or for attention or just because she really likes these men? is she getting very drunk when she is going with these men?

i was living on my own at 19 and my parents wouldn't have known where i was for weeks at a time. (i was just being normal, working, having friends over, the odd night at the pub but for all they knew i had fallen off the face of the earth)

the thing that made me more likely to get in touch or visit them was when they eased off on the phonecalls asking me to call and saying they were worried about me. i can see now that it was selfish and inconsiderate of me not to call them back but at the time i was so pissed off with them thinking i wasn't capable of keeping myself safe. when they showed that they had backed off a bit, i felt more ready to talk with them and let them know all was ok.

i know it's hard. my mum still worries about me constantly and i've been a mum myself for almost 8 years now!

give your girl some credit, yeah she'll make mistakes and might possibly end up in bad situations but if she's determined to go there, she'll do it anyway.

in your shoes i would just let her know that you are there for her 100%. i would also try (i know it is easier said than done) to relax. let her feel relaxed enough around you to share hopefully as much as possible so that you know what's going on with her. maybe start sharing some stories of your own youth, let her see that you were young once,. have a laugh about the things you got up to, bond over it and let her know that your ok to talk to if she feels like ranting about her latest boyfriend or what her best friend is doing with such and such behind X's back. let her enjoy your company as more than just a parent figure. the more she relaxes with you the more she'll trust you.

Booyhoo Sat 09-Feb-13 13:52:02

and i'm going to try very hard to take my own advice in 10 years time. grin

moisturiser Sat 09-Feb-13 13:52:55

I think it's all very well going she's an adult, can go out when she wants, that she 'needs telling' that meeting a man on the internet is awfully silly, but she's in care. Her situation is not that of a naice middle class, secure, well-adjusted teen/young adult. She's possibly extremely vulnerable and emotionally young for her age. It's completely different. And it also totally depends on what she's been through in life

OP you have my sympathies. I don't know what to suggest. I think given the situation a curfew might be appropriate, if you can sit her down and make her realise it's not a rule like a child gets given, just a house rule for all the adults in the property simply as a matter of respect. I'm not sure whether she'd remotely follow it.

Is she having counselling? If she's getting herself into situations where she's going off with dodgy men, it might be an issue she needs to address (I realise you might be thinking 'no shit sherlock', if there's abuse in her past). Does she realise this placement is at risk of ending if she repeats her behaviour.

I wish I had more advice. I hope things improve.

garlicblocks Sat 09-Feb-13 13:59:19

I agree with all the "talk to her" responses. I imagine she's been controlled, one way and another, throughout her young life and doesn't trust anyone to give her loose, but safe, boundaries.

It's a matter very close to my heart - my dictatorial parents imposed rules and curfews; raged at me when I stayed out (despite their insistence they did this out of concern, it made me frightened and angry). So I simply stayed away. It did mess with my A-levels, yes.

Tbh, once every few weeks isn't too frequent an all-nighter at 18yo. Were she away at uni, she'd be a doing it a few times a week. Please try to imbue her with the one thing her upbringing hasn't granted her so far - confidence. If you can get to the point where she really knows she won't be yelled at or sanctioned for behaving like an 18-year-old, where she can feel safe to ring you at any time should she need rescuing ... you will have done a wonderful job.

Good luck!

Pandemoniaa Sat 09-Feb-13 14:03:46

I agree that she is probably vulnerable and emotionally young for her age - her previous behaviour suggests she puts herself at risk - but I think the problem with imposing a curfew at her age is that she has no need to observe it. Especially if she's not truly aware of the consequences of her behaviour. I suspect that the OP would be less worried if her foster dd was prepared to be truthful and perhaps that's an issue to try and get to the bottom of.

Because she might agree to come home at 2am but it's what she's doing when she's out that is almost more worrying than the time she comes home. And if she refuses to observe a curfew, what does the OP do other than report it to SS which will almost certainly bring the placement to an end.

garlicblocks Sat 09-Feb-13 14:04:18

Her situation is not that of a naice middle class, secure, well-adjusted teen/young adult.

You know what, moisturiser, that sentence would have been more meaningful without the "naice middle class" part. Thoughtless snobbery doesn't help anyone at all.

Booyhoo Sat 09-Feb-13 14:07:14

middle class is no guarantee of beig well adjusted. believe me.

Muchadoaboutnuthing Sat 09-Feb-13 15:12:03

Thanks for all the advice. Its a hard one for me beacuse I moved out of my parents house as soon as I could, I was 17. So from then on I lived alone so had no real rules, curfew etc except self-imposed ones, e.g. I had to get up for work in the morning so couldn't go out and get drunk every night.

I just want to get fd as far as her exams at this stage. Going home isn't an option for her and doesnt look like it ever will be so she has no family to go to if this placement fails. This really is her last chance. At least if we get through the exams the sw will look at independant living or something for her, if she has to leave now she'll basically lose whatever support she does have. Shes an amazing girl and I don't want to see that happen to her. Shes really clever and does want to go to college but she just needs to settle down for these few months.

The sw spelled out for her a few weeks ago where her behaviour is leading her. And she does seem sorry and does want to stay with us, but all sense of reason seems to go out the window once she gets involved with some new guy.

I'm so concious that I must seem like a hypocrite to her, at her age I was living with DH and pregnant with our first child soon after and it was hard. But I did have my family to support me and my exams finished.

Wishiwasanheiress Sat 09-Feb-13 15:15:33

I agree with the talk to her ones. Firstly this is about respect. She should get that. If she stays out she says where she is and with who and where. This works both ways, don't disappear out during day for example without note. She must have a mobile? Can't u all have find friends app on it? I can see where my dh is all the time. Same with key family friends. If u all did it so all of u can be found its ok.

She must know there's consequences to her behaviour? Are u saying she does but doesn't presently care? Not sure.

I think you both can only do so much. You sound very supportive of her. I hope it works out. I really do.

marriedinwhite Sat 09-Feb-13 15:16:17

How can a social worker end a placement if she's 18?

janey68 Sat 09-Feb-13 15:23:46

Sounds to me that the real issue is the different agencies- social services and police, and you, all have different guidelines and expectations and it's impossible to marry them up.

Legally as an adult, you can't give her a 'curfew' and the police cant do anything if she chooses to stay out. If her sw is saying that she's vulnerable and that you should be doing something to 'keep her safe' then the onus is on them to spell out what that is. Because other than all the very sensible and reasonable things you're already doing, such as advising her about personal safety, I can't see what else you can do, without overstepping into un reasonable behaviour such as trying to place a curfew on her . I sympathise with your worries but I think you're being put in an impossible situation if the sw is suggesting you do more

piprabbit Sat 09-Feb-13 15:27:58

When will she cease to be in care? Are you talking about setting long term boundaries and house rules, or is it a case of managing the situation for a few months?

I'm not sure a curfew would help, as other have said it sounds like keeping the channels of communication open so she trusts you and will turn to you if she needs help will be the most effective way to keep her safe.

IneedAsockamnesty Sat 09-Feb-13 15:37:14

I thought that they effectively just turfed you out of care at 17/18

freddiefrog Sat 09-Feb-13 15:38:35

You have my sympathies. We have the same problem with our foster DD - she's 16, so can, and does, do what she pleases and we have abosolutely no sanctions or consequences when she does.

Our curfew is 11pm Sunday to Friday, negotiable at weekends, she's also allowed to stay at certain people's houses. She rolls in at 2am, tells us she's staying places she's not, and she's also vulnerable to a known sex offender in the area so it's all a bit of a nightmare.

I've told her that curfew is 11, if she's not home by 11:30 I'll report her missing and after midnight, the police have to deal with out of hours

We're not allowed to give FC a key, so we have to wait up for her to let her in so it's becoming unsustainable with getting up at 7am with our own kids.

What does your social worker say?

Muchadoaboutnuthing Sat 09-Feb-13 15:50:23

Pip we're basically just talking about managing the next few months. It looks like she'll be with us until the end of summer but once we get to the end of June without any major incidents I'll be happy as her exams will be finished then. Wrt the curfew, I suppose it was something I wanted to try until the exams are finished. After that I wont be quite so concerned.

Sock that is often the case. The only reason they have left foster d with us is that she really started making an effort in school and they said they'd let her get her exams done in June. We're not sure what will happen then, we're having a meeting with the sws in a couple of weeks to discuss.

Freddie I have seen some of your posts on the fostering boards. It sounds like a tough placement you have. Our fd has an 11 p.m. curfew on school nights which she has never missed, its part of the reason I think one at weekends might be necessary, just for a few months. The sw is supportive but unsure what to do, as sock said its kind of unusual for them to still have kids of this age in foster care. Her sw is great and wants her to sit her exams but also says she cant stand over the placement while fd is placing herself in such danger, there was a very serious incident a few weeks ago and sw made it quite clear to fd that shes on her last chance here.

Dh and I did ask the sw what happens if the placement ends and whether we could still keep her here until after her exams but part of me is reluctant, its difficult enough to manage her behaviour with the sws support, we would also probably lose all the services she currently gets such as psych and counselling.

BertieBotts Sun 10-Feb-13 08:54:51

It infuriates me that dropping the placement should be some kind of punishment for her behaviour when surely the behaviour is the very symptom of why she needs the support of a secure placement - and that's not going to go away overnight!

I wonder if you could try to get on her side with something quite extreme, perhaps offering to pay her if she (firstly) gets all the way to the exam and takes it, without any all-nighters in the process, and secondly (perhaps an extra bonus) if she gets a good mark; kind of an extra incentive for her.

I think it's hard because as others have said, most 18 year olds go on all-nighters and regardless of the fact she may be more vulnerable than other people her age, she's going to see all her mates doing it and feel she's missing out . And in fact, you've already said that in the moment, she's not thinking about losing the placement, just what she wants right then. So perhaps a long term incentive isn't helpful either.

What about if she got a weekend job that she had to get up early for?

garlicblocks Sun 10-Feb-13 12:13:23

Freddie - sorry if you've covered this elsewhere (I don't know your threads) but couldn't you use a mobile instead of physically waiting up for FD? She could text you from the front gate to wake you up smile

garlicblocks Sun 10-Feb-13 12:17:18

It infuriates me that dropping the placement should be some kind of punishment for her behaviour when surely the behaviour is the very symptom of why she needs the support

My thoughts too, Bertie! Surely punishments should only be about withdrawing privileges, not support?

Why is it all about sticks, anyway? Carrots bribes are just as effective and then give you something to withdraw if sanctions are needed.

freddiefrog Sun 10-Feb-13 13:14:08

garlic she just never replies to calls or texts, or if she does she lies about her whereabouts and just rolls in whenever she fancies anyway.

We also end up with countless calls from the police half the night. Calls to pick her up from some drug dealers house at 1am

Last week, I spoke with our social worker and we have put our foot (feet?) down - curfew is 11, I will report her missing at 11:30 and after midnight phones are switched off and the police and social services out of hours have to deal with it - we'll get up to let her in, but that's it. I still get woken at 2am, but I can just get up, let her in and go back to bed.

marriedinwhite Sun 10-Feb-13 13:28:19

11pm curfews on school nights shock. We have an 18 year old ds in the upper 6th. He and his friends do not go out Sunday - Thursday and usually not on a Friday if they Saturday matches. Friday/Saturday nights and the holidays - they can stay out as late as they like. This is not even something that needs to be discussed - it is a given.

I cannot believe that social workers think an 11pm curfew for teenagers working towards exams is acceptable. No wonder society has problems. I am speechless - where do the boundaries begin.

Freddiefrog if she is at a drug dealer's house at 1am in the morning, presumably she cannot be far off a conviction. That is not normal behaviour; it is not what normal teenagers do - surely she is getting significant amounts of professional help.

garlicblocks Sun 10-Feb-13 13:38:12

Sorry, Freddie, I was meaning more that she could wake you up when she came back, rather than you chasing her. I see that's more or less what you've arrived at anyway, and should think the missing reports are a workable compromise in your situation.

FWIW, I spent a lot of nights at drug dealers' houses. They are usually up most of the night with plenty of people around and don't mind a decorative guest snoozing in the armchair. I did take drugs, but never hard-core ones despite those being on offer.

It should be clear that my history informs my view that punishments work less well than support!

chocoluvva Sun 10-Feb-13 13:58:19

I sympathise with your worry and frustration.

Not much of a compromise, but could you get her to tell you a rough estimate of when she'll come back and tell her to text you her whereabouts if it gets past that time? (If she forgets, it might make you worry all the more - hmmm).

I'd encourage her to bring boys back to yours rather than stop out anywhere till very late - if that was possible.

chocoluvva Sun 10-Feb-13 14:00:08

Sorry - I've just realised I've missed half the relevant posts.

freddiefrog Sun 10-Feb-13 14:15:29

married she's getting support now, but it was a long time coming. It took my social worker putting in an official complaint, me taking a flask and a magazine and sitting in their offices and refusing to leave, and the independent reviewing officer also making a complaint, before she was transferred to the relevant team, let alone actual support coming her way. Heads will be rolling in the near future, I am sure

marriedinwhite Sun 10-Feb-13 16:14:12

I don't know how you do it.

If you have other children how on earth do you deal with the boundaries issues. We have an 18 year old who is exceptionally alpha and I have no doubt, if he had a different home life, he would be out to all hours whenever he could. I do appreciate some children are challenging and I am 100% certain our ds would have gone off the rails in a less than optimal environment; our dd probably wouldn't in spite of being the more sensitive and more quirky child. It's hard enough dealing with your own; how you have the strength and tenacity to deal with someone else's and children who have been "damaged" I really don't know.

But thank you. I hope they will one day realise what you have done.

Your house your rules, if you insist that she has to be there by 2am then that is the rule.
We had the rules of midnight for Ds when he was still in high school at 18 and living at home. He was really good about it, once he was out for summer, we let it lapse, and he'd come in about 1am, and let me know he was in. I don't get to a deep sleep if I'm waiting to hear.
But we do live rural, theres nothing open after about 10pm and any parties seem to get the Police called around midnight, and if they went to hang out at the lake, they took food, firewood and tents and came back the ext day. Fine by me so long as I knew.

everlong Sun 10-Feb-13 17:11:36

I don't think you can tell her to be home at 2am but you should be able to insist that she keeps in contact with you and tells you where she is and what time she will be back.

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