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Hello Dr. Robert,

I wanted to ask you for your opinion on what you think should be a curfew for an 18-year old girl.

I just started my second year of college and i consider myself to be extremely hardworking and studious. I have been able to maintain a 3.5 GPA and have no intention in becoming someone who goes clubbing every weekends, or goes out to get drunk with friends or do drugs or becoming sexually active. My parents have raised me well and i think that i have showed them what a responsible and trustworthy person i am.

Since i started college, a lot of my friends have been wanting me to attend birthday parties, dinners, or just a regular day out with a couple of friends, starting at around 7 o'clock at night. I can assure you that i do not hang out with "the wrong crowd" and the friends that i hang out with my parents already know about. My parents have absolutely nothing against my friends but they do not let me come home late at all. Right now i am taking a biology class that is from 5:30-6:50, and my parents did not like the idea of me getting home at around 8:30p.m. Literally, my parents expect me to be home before sunset; they want me to be home at a time when there is still light outside, which is about 7:00p.m. So this is where the problem comes in.

When i was in high school and my friends asked me to attend birthday parties that were around 8pm. i was not able to go because my parents said that was too late. So i respected their decision and told my friends i was not able to go. When i went shopping with my friends, my parents wanted me home before 8pm and i always came home before that time. Even whenever i am out with my friends, i always let my parents know that i have arrived to wherever it was that i was going, what time i should be expected to get home and who i was going with. I can assure you that i have never lied to my parents before. Wherever i said i was going, that is exactly where i went. But now that i am in my second year of college and for my curfew to still be at 8pm seems to be extremely unfair to me. I work so hard in school to make sure that i do not disappoint my parents and to also make sure that i graduate and be successful in achieving my goal of getting into dental school. I think i deserve to be given the chance of going out with my friends. There have been occasions where i have told my parents that my friends want to go out for dinner @ 8p.m. and my father told me that the only way he would give me permission is if we eat at an earlier time; so my friends were extremely nice enough to set dinner at around 6p.m. so that i can be home at 8p.m. But this is not always the case and it shouldn't have to be. I can't always make my friends change the time of having dinner in order to accommodate my needs. What about the rest of them? My dad always tells me that the reason he does not let me stay out past 8o'clock is because he loves me and does not want anything to happen to me.

I love my parents so much as well and i understand that they care about me and i appreciate that so much but there are just times where i really want to hang out with my friends and have fun. I am so sick of having my entire life be concentrated on school work. That is basically what my entire life revolves around; school. I know what is expected of me and i am not going to allow myself to start slacking off and end up with a 2.0 GPA. There is absolutely no way that i am going to allow so many years of hard work go to waste. My parents always taught me that schoolwork comes first and i completely agree. But don't i deserve a little bit of excitement in my life? I made it clear to my parents that i am not going to become one of those "girls gone wild" type of people, but they always end up saying that they love me and they don't want to see me out with friends so late (Anything after 8 o'clock is late for them). Do you have any suggestions for me, please let me know. Thank you !


ask dr-robert ask psychologist todos santos ask psychologist dr robert saltzman

Hello, Carlotta--

You are most welcome.

Judging from your words, you are a decent and conscientious girl who both loves and respects your parents, and who does not wish to cause them any pain. However, their demands, as you have put them forth, seem to me to be excessive and way out of proportion to the possible dangers involved. Based on the attitudes expressed in your letter, if you were my daughter I would allow you to make your own decisions about where to go and when. In other words, I do not believe that you should have any curfew at all. But every parent is different, and it is important, it seems to me, that you continue to try to respect yours even though their ideas about what is good for you do not seem relevant to your actual life.

This kind of thing often happens in families in which the parents are living lives based on different cultural values than those of the contemporary milieu of their children. I do not know if this is your situation, but I have seen this kind of thing in my psychotherapy practice when the parents came from the "old country" and could not understand that their children were living in a new county, in a completely different cultural surround.

My suggestion is that you keep on trying to educate your parents about your world, the world in which you live. Perhaps you have a good friend who could help you with this project by visiting your home and also speaking with your parents. You also should keep on trying to negotiate with your parents about allowing you more freedom. You might say, for example, "I love you and will continue to respect your wishes, but I would like you to promise that when I turn nineteen, my curfew will change to a later hour, and I hope you will understand that I work hard and need more freedom."

I wish you all the best in your continuing education, and every success in your chosen career.

Be well.

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page last modified April 1, 2007

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