Bedtime Rules for Parents!

The other day I met a wonderful family staying nearby here in Florida; six well-mannered children from age five to twenty, and two truly dedicated parents.

“I don’t go to sleep until my children are in bed,” Mr. B. remarked.

“Your kids are teenagers!” I exclaimed. “How can you possibly consistently stay up past your children?”

“When do most problems occur?” Mr. asked gently asked. “Generally children get into trouble late at night, not during broad daylight. My kids are good kids… yet I still know that my responsibility as a parent does not end at 10:00 or 11:00pm, when I’d like to call it a night. As a parent, I make sure that I know where my children are, and what they are doing, at every hour of the day and night.”

Truthfully, I was blown away by his simple explanation of his bedtime. How many parents of teenagers know what their teenagers are doing every evening, and are consistently available to wish their children a warm ‘good-night’ at any time of the evening… or even early hours of the morning?!

Would you consider waiting until your children have gone to bed before retiring?

Is it necessary?

Is it wise?

My humble opinion would be a resounding ‘YES’! What’s yours?

Related Posts:


  1. Ellen, I do the same: I am the last one to go to bed in our home. I have a 17 year old that sometimes gows out at night, and I stay up until he comes home.

    He is a great kid, but I want to “see” him when he walks in: this could give me an idea of what he’s been doing. You know: smell them, watch their actions, etc.

  2. Thanks, Busy Mom! (I didn’t catch your name?)

    That’s a good point, you want to get an idea of what they’ve been up to when they do arrive back home… even the great kids, in this day and age!

  3. ella hollingsworth says:

    when i was old enough to date (at 17 ) my mom would wait up for me too . why ? because she wanted to be able to tell me she loved me before we went to bed . also if i needed to talk about anything she was ready to listen , not groggy and half out of it like she would have been if she had slept .
    i will be waiting up for my daughters too …and they won’t date til they are 40 ! (according to their daddy haha !)

  4. Jennifer says:

    I was often left to my own devices coming home. I will say that I felt lost many times when I would come home to a dark, quiet house and no one seemed interested in my life. At least, until I made a choice that wasn’t right in their opinion. I applaud all the parents that greet their children no matter the time. They need to know that you care and are interested all of the time not just when it is convient.

    Mom of 3

  5. Wow! I would never have even considered that staying up for teenagers could be anything other than disrespectful; until I read this article and comments. Certainly something for me to think deeply about and prepare myself for (teenage years are a few years ahead yet, lol)

  6. While my children are a few years away from being teenagers, I would never even consider taking a short nap on the couch when my child is expected home soon. That initial greeting, bonding, and catching their moods and expressions is so important!

  7. My oldest 2 children are 18 and 17 year old boys. They (especially the 18 year old) are out late pretty consistently. I am often surprised that when I am suggesting they come home a little earlier, my curfews are often the strictest and even at 12:30, they are often the first to leave their friends. When I am really tired, I often ask them how the other parents do it when their kids are out so late all the time and they say, “they just go to bed”. That had never occurred to me. They know I trust them, laugh when I sniff as I am hugging, and roll their eyes when I remind them of the dangers of too much alone time with girlfriends, but even though they say now and then, “just go to bed, you don’t have to wait up for me”, they know I would never consider it and hopefully they will some day appreciate it more than they think they do now. Though my tired brain would like to have the conversations earlier, we always have our greatest talks when they come home late at night and all the little ones are sleeping. What precious bonding time we would have missed if we just went to bed when we were tired. My husband and I are often both up, but will take turns if we are getting really tired. I just can’t imagine not being there for them when they come through that door!

  8. My son is too young to be out at night, but when the time comes, I’ll most definitely be waiting up for him! We have and probably always will have some of our best conversations in the quiet and peacefulness of the night hours! If he needs to talk, I’ll be here to listen, no matter what the hour!

  9. My son is 17 and though my husband (who works early mornings) usually is in bed with the younger son, I am awake until my older son comes home. My husband will stay up if something comes up that I cannnot. One of us is always available to greet him and let him know we care. (Yes, we are checking on him too although he is a good kid good kids can be lead astray). Many times this is when we have our most open conversations.

    My 18 year old nephew moved in for a few months attempting to finish high school and after having free run at his house could not handle curfews orsomeone greeting him when he came in whether on time or late, sober or not. But he also complained often no one cared and could not see this as a form of love when it was not there all along in some form.

  10. This to me is a striking show of love and being present as a parent! I have never been shown this behavior as an example, but I hope I can show this amount of dedication to my children. It has always been important to me to “build” a proper foundation for my children’s ablilty to grow to be whole people (not walking about looking for their “missing piece”)
    The simplicity of this is exponentially astounding!

  11. Beth S T says:

    I do lay down while the kids are out (I’m up at 4:30 almost every morning), but the rule is they are to wake me when they get in to kiss me good-night. My 20 yr old son still kisses me good-night when he is home from college, laughs when I ask him to kiss me again ‘cuase I smell something different, and sometimes sits on the edge of the bed at 2am to tell me about his evening. Even at 20 yr old, when he is leaving to go out for the evening I remind him, “No sex, drugs, or alcohol.” His response is usually a smile, and an “I love you Mom.”
    I trust that we have laid a solid foundation, but keep gently remining him of our expectations.
    Our daughter is starting to go out with friends, but is not dating yet. She also still has a much earlier curfew, and finds me in the house to kiss me hello and tell me about her evening out. They both know I care enough about them to check on them when they return home.

  12. This is a great discussion! My parents never waited up for me when I was older (granted my mom was sick with Lupus, so I can understand in her case). I am right now rethinking about when my kids get older. My oldest is currently 11, so this hasn’t become an issue yet.

    I’m leaning toward sacking out on the couch and insisting they wake me up if I’ve dozed out.

    Jennifer: I never thought about it before, but I, too, felt lost if I came home late to a dark house with sleeping parents. I guess like my toddler if he wakes up extra early and he wanders around asking “Are you? Are you?” (That’s “where are you” but he often leaves out the word “where”, the cutie.)

  13. Ah-haaa!
    I’ve been there and done that! I know what I was up to when I snuck out! So I know what to watch for, for tell-tail signs! If your children learn their boundries at a young age and live by them from parents consistantly enforcing the rules, along with open communication, I bet you’ll have less to worry about.


  15. That tends to be a hard thing to gauge for any parent. We thought midnight was fine and everyone was OK with that until we moved to another town and all the kids there got to stay out until 12:30 – even 1 or 1:30. We gave in and changed it to 12:30 since that is when his driver’s license says he can no longer legally drive. Of course, once he turns 18 (which is soon) that will no longer be an issue. He will be 18 for his entire senior year, which could prove a challenge as he is already missing curfews more frequently. It gets harder to impose punishments (few chores cuz he is working 2 jobs, harder to forbid them to leave) as they get older.

    Hard or not those are the things we are trying to do. The difficulty comes with the temper issues he tends to have if he is over-tired. We have found it better to not address it when he is coming home late, but to set the guidelines and expectations/consequences during some family time or father-son time.

    Some children are just naturally more compliant and it isn’t as big of an issue. Parents of compliant children (esp if it is their only child) often get overly critical of our supposed lack of control when we say he misses curfew sometimes. It is hard not to let those kind of comments get you down. They really just cannot understand the heights that conflict can reach with a rebellious child.

    So many variables – personality, trustworthiness, level of maturity/responsibility, peer activities, church. We have stuck with 10:30 on school nights and 12:30 on weekends, though circumstances may occasionally require leniency. Maybe a girlfriend is trying to break up and they needed extra time to talk. Maybe a friend is having a problem with and abusive or alcoholic parent and needed a listening ear. Maybe a friend was considering suicide. Often when I have gotten the most angry, I end up eating my words when I heard what they were doing to make them late.

    Fatigue is a mighty catalyst to any conflict. My reasons for waiting up are not to reprimand, but to just be there, talk, listen. If discipline needs to be addressed, we always try to do that after all have slept.

  16. Listen, it is good to stay up for your kids but they should not have a curfew. I wait up for my child but i do not tell them when to be home. Sometimes it is hard to wait up until the early morning but it is my choice to do it. Just because i am tired does not mean my child should have to come home. We need to treat our teenagers like adults and let them decide when they should return. Believe me, some of you think that when i say this my child always comes home at three drunk. Not true at all, actually my child sometimes comes home as early as ten because he understands responsibility and is mature