Curfew and grounding for a 19 year old


I need to sound you out about something.

We have a 19 yo son. He has had some girlfriends and we have been concerned as to how chaste these relationships are. We have expressed out concerns to him and they are met with denial or hostility.

We had a curfew of 10 pm as we were concerned with him spending too much time with his girlfriend. He stayed out once to 3 pm which was why we enforced the curfew. For the most part he has abided by it. His girl friend dumped him much to our relief - this was about 3 months ago. Recently we have been observing the same behaviors in him when he has a girl friend - away from home for long periods of time and vagueness about where he is going. He says he is studying with friends, working or at the gym. Sometimes he is hanging out with friends. We have expressed concerns that we do not know where he is and if something happens to him we have no idea where he is, who he is with or any contact information.

Thursday he stayed out till 2 am. In the morning I said he was grounded and he was only to leave home to go to school. He announced he was moving out.

My wife panicked and spoke to him and believes that he will respect his curfew from now on.

She believes that you can’t ground a 19 yo. I feel that if we can’t force him to abide by our rules

  1. going to mass
  2. no bad language
  3. abiding by his curfew

he can walk all over us. My wife feels that if he leaves home he is lost forever and we can’t encourage him to lead a moral life or complete school.

Am I being unreasonable in my curfew expectations? Can we ground a 19 yo? If he refuses to abide by our grounding rules are we right by asking him to leave. I am going to spend time prayerfully discerning with my wife what to do, but want to sound you out on it.


He´s a man, not a boy. Raising him is done, it´s on you to live your own values as a role model for him - not more. Honestly, I would also not be amazed to discuss those things with my parents back then. If he lives under your roofs, you can control who stays there - your rules. You can ask him to help with the living costs and those mundane things. But the state of his soul is now his own issue, and also what happens out of your house.
Pray for him, it´s more powerful than talking.


As long as he lives in your house it’s your rules. But if he wants to move out, let him, don’t make him stay. He ought to get a job and move out asap anyway


I think the time for grounding him is over, and I think your curfew is too harsh. Does he not have a phone to take with him when he goes out that you can contact him on?

I think it’s fine to say if he lives with you, he needs to go to Mass and not use bad language. If he doesn’t want to abide by that, then by all means he needs to find somewhere else to live.

I agree with this. As hard as it is, you need to take a step back and let him make his own choices.


Is he financially independent or are you still supporting him?


Tell him to follow your rules or get out. He’s an adult but it’s your house :house_with_garden:


At age 19 he better get a job…


He is going to school. We have said that we will not charge him rent until he finishes school.
We charge him for his phone and items like that.

He works part time.


I think a 10PM curfew is ridiculous. If he got a night job, he wouldn’t be able to get home that quickly! However, I think your concern that he is staying out basically overnight without telling you is reasonable and what he’s doing is very inconsiderate. Rather than a curfew, could you have an arrangement where if he has evening plans that are going to keep him out late, he tell you where he’s going to be and what time he’s planning to be home? That way you are dealing with the safety concerns. I agree with other posters that you don’t “ground” a 19yo. If he won’t follow your rules, he needs to support himself somewhere else.


Is he paying for school?


A 19-year-old is an adult! You can have rules, but it really isn’t in your power (or right) to enforce them!
If he goes against your rules consistently, he needs to move out. Ten PM is ridiculously early!


If he’s not self supporting, you call the shots.

When he is self-supporting (that means he’s established his own “hearth”, ie legal domicile outside of your house), then he calls the shots.


You aren’t going to change whatever he is doing or not doing. He’s an adult now, and the time to form his conscience is long past.

If you’ve built a relationship of honest communication that includes the ability to come to you no matter what— even if he messes up— then you’ve done well. However I don’t sense that here. I sense a command and control attitude.

A ten pm curfew is a little ridiculous. And you do understand that your son and his girlfriend can have sex if they are determined to, whether they spend one or ten hours together and whether it’s 1 pm or 1 am, right?

If you are concerned about him spending too much time with her to the detriment of his own friend and interests, it’s better to have a conversation about it rather than try to control it.

Trying to “ground” a 19 year old isn’t going to work. You’ve already encountered his response which is to exercise his agency over himself.

Now, those who say “your house, your rules” are both right and wrong— it is your house and you can set strict rules but it will result in pushing him away. Do you want him to move out, possibly needing to quit school to do so?

You need to be careful you don’t cut off your nose to spite your face.


She’s right.

You’ve framed this as a power struggle. You should be helping him transition to adulthood which includes much more freedom than you seem to want to give.

I mean what’s the REAL issue here?? So what if he spends a lot of time with his girlfriend? What is it you are REALLY afraid of?



I think you all lose if you do. You drive him into a bad economic situation that changes the trajectory of his life. You lose the opportunity to continue to help him transition into adulthood, go to school, and maintain a close relationship with you.

I suggest you figure out what the REAL issue is and deal with it. And, have a father/son day where go do some guy stuff and tell him you are struggling to let go, and that you’d like it if he helped you loosen your grip by helping you not to worry by telling you where you are, calling if you will be late, etc.


I would also keep in mind, I know a number of people who started dating their spouses at that age. 19 isn’t too young to be evaluating a partner. There’s a good chance that at some point soon he’s going to be deciding if a woman is the one he wants to spend the rest of his life with or not.


As others have mentioned, I suggest you treat him as an adult. I would say that everyone living in your house is expected to go to mass and of course to refrain from bad language, as that’s only respectful.

You can’t impose a curfew on another adult. What you can do is discuss your concerns with him, and ask him to call if he’s going to be out late to let you know when he’ll be home and where he is. If he has his own key, he can come home when he likes, but of course if his coming in is going to wake everyone up, he needs to arrive at a reasonable hour.

Think about how you would treat your brother or sister if they were living with you. What expectations would you place on him or her?


He’s going to school and holding down a job and is a young adult. 10pm is way too early as a curfew. He has adult responsibilities and should have adult privileges. Of course he’s going to be vague about what he’s doing with his free time because you sound incredibly strict. It’s very hard to live out on your own these days as a young person, much harder than it was in the past due to stagnating wages and high costs of living, so the motivation to live with you is there, but after a point it becomes unbearable to live with extremely strict parents who stifle their development and smother their independence.

I can’t tell you how many friends and acquaintances I had when I was around that age ten years ago or so who went full on nihilist atheist to spite their overbearing parents. You can’t make people, even your own children, have the same beliefs as you, and especially not with draconian rules. Children and teenagers aren’t dumb; they can hear people explain to them why they should be religious, but if you treat them disrespectfully (and this is a respect issue, you aren’t respecting his own burgeoning individuality) they’ll go “pff, religion is just about controlling me and making my life miserable”, which is the message that a lot of young people receive when you ground them at 10pm, are happy that their girlfriends breakup with them, and force them to do things they don’t want to do.

A moral life is the fulfillment of mature values like compassion, understanding, and respect for other, not “rules” like curfew and no swears. You’re teaching your son that “religion” is a bunch of rules that make him unhappy. Why then are you surprised that he wants to leave?


Thanks all for your replies. I confess your replies are an eye opener for me, and I am glad to receive your input on my questions no matter how harsh they are:)

I am carefully reading what you are saying here and thinking about the issue. I will be talking with my wife tonight about lifting the curfew completely. I can see the error with grounding:)

Our whole idea was that our college children could live with us until they finish college. At that point we will charge room and board. Right now we charge for their phone bills. They do have part time jobs. We are paying for our college children’s school. If they fail a class they need to pay to repeat that class.


You have the right to make whatever rules you feel like in your own house (along with your wife), but yes I think you are being unreasonable and that your wife is right. A nineteen year old man shouldn’t need to come home at 10pm. I stayed out later than that in high school.

I’m also not sure what is wrong with the behaviors you mentioned- “away from home for long periods of time and vagueness about where he is going”. This doesn’t seem particularly concerning. He is a young adult. When people live at college, their parents don’t know where they are every second of the day. While I think he would be courteous to give you an idea of where he will be and when he will be back, really I wouldn’t blame him for moving out. Nothing he’s doing seems particularly wrong, and he is not a child.


I think that is a sound plan. But they aren’t children anymore, they are young adults. The time to have curfews and a rules based relationship has passed. This is the time to have a mentoring relationship— preparing them for when they are out on their own. Discussing things adult to adult, giving opinions, making suggestions, but not making demands or reacting if they don’t take your advice.

All of that is reasonable, as is the courtesy of telling family members approximately when you will be home, calling if you will be late, being considerate by not stomping through the house at 2 a.m. waking up people who have to be at work in the morning. Also reasonable is expecting good grades.

What isn’t reasonable is treating a 19 year old as if they were still a 15 year old. You have to loosen the grip, as difficult as that is. They are a fledgling adult and you need to shift into mentor mode and let them stand on equal footing with other adults, yourself included. Yes you have more experience, yes he is still young, but he’s going to need your support for a few more years and he’s going to need to have space to make mistakes and learn on his own. My first car had a horrible interest rate and I paid way too much for it— but I did it myself, learned from my mistakes and was smarter the second time around. I could have asked Dad to come with me, but I wanted to do it myself!

You have to learn to let them do.

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