Locking Your Kids Out After Curfew Is Not Good Parenting

By  | 

shutterstock_80088760As some kind of rebuttal to the helicopter parenting generation we are living in, I’ve seen an influx of “old school” parenting images circulated on social media. The gist is this: My parents were tough with me, they beat me with a belt, they let me drink out of the garden hose, and I’m totally FINE. Clearly, old-school parents who ruled with an iron fist are better than new school parents who are breeding special snowflakes.

I agree to a degree, but not entirely. I definitely side with the free-range parenting philosophy, which basically means that I still worry constantly about everything that could happen to my precious little snowflakes, but I try to listen to my husband when he says that they will be fine jumping face first off the couch and that they’ll learn from it too.

But I completely disagree with some of these “bad ass,” old school parenting memes that are being applauded on the Internet, like the one below:


I still have small children, but I have been a teenager with a curfew before. I can confidently say that the above parenting tactic is a dick move. It may be clever, and it may make people on social media wax poetic about the days when it was legal to beat kids to teach them respect, but I don’t like it one bit.

Most of the time, I try not to be a fear-mongering parent. (Though I have certainly been guilty before.) Most of the time, I get bent out of shape when I see parents wringing their hands about the big, bad world out there—because the odds are truly in our favor. Meteors probably aren’t going to fall out of the sky and kill your kids. Kidnappers don’t have the time to steal your baby when you leave it in the car for 60 seconds while you pay for gas.

But locking your teenager out of the house is not cool, and it’s not safe. For starters, there’s the weather to think about. I live in Texas, where freezing temperatures are most often a nonissue. But I can’t even fathom locking a teen out of the house without a second thought in the dead of winter or even when it’s pouring rain outside. I wouldn’t do that to my own dog.

Parents who commented on this image also mentioned several unfortunate stories involving teens locked out of the house: “The people reacting negatively to this post more than likely live in southern Ontario and our province is still reeling (although it has been many years) over the deaths of two young teenagers murdered by Paul Bernardo and his wife. Unfortunately, one of the young woman missed curfew and was locked out and had the misfortune to run into Bernardo. I don’t think the people posting the warnings are trying to be downers, but it was just such a tragedy it will forever be in our minds and our hearts. Bernado is an infamous here as Ted Bundy is in the States.”

Again, in all reality, the odds of a teen running into Ted Bundy in the middle of the night are incredibly low. But I still would not be comfortable sleeping in my warm, soft bed all night long while my teen roamed the streets, just because they missed curfew.

Clever, old-school stunts like this don’t deserve a round of applause, let alone a Facebook share. There are many, many ways to deal with an unruly teen instead of locking them out of the house.

(Image: Elena Elisseeva/Shutterstock)