I decided to let my daughter break my one-night-out rule -- and lived to regret it.
Sarah Bowman: My daughter spent three weekend nights out last weekend, and was consequently a WRECK this week at school. Friday night was a movie with her boyfriend, after watching a playoff soccer match at school. She was home by curfew but up again at dawn, since she had to be at an SAT practice test the next morning.
So by noon on Saturday, she was already running behind in the sleep department. Saturday night was dinner and a sleepover at her best girlfriend's house -- and although she got some studying done in the afternoon, she also spent a long time figuring out her outfit for the evening. Turns out, there was a house party across the street from her girlfriend's, so I'm sure the girls stayed up way too late (in their cute outfits) and then giggled the night away once they were safely home again.
She had sports practices and homework all day Sunday, so I should have known better than to let her go out Sunday night. But she said it was "just a quick dinner with my Fab Five" -- her very oldest and best-est girl pack. I'm a sucker for loyalty to the ties that bind, so against my better judgment, I assented to a third evening. My bad.
Has she been tired and weepy all week long? For sure. Was I kicking myself on a daily basis as I shook her awake each morning from the deepest slumber? I swear, 6:30 AM reveille is rough duty with teens. I think it's fair to say that my daughter understands that she went over the limit, but she's too tired -- and too behind -- to really discuss it. So why, after years of having strict rules, did I blow my own steadfast mandate of ONE night out per weekend?
First of all, rules are made to be broken -- and when better to do so than when your kid wants to spend some quality time with her friends? Since I hate how much stress junior year has imposed on my daughter, it felt good to give her some leeway to relax. But: The one-night-out-per-weekend rule was created to provide for a regular and reliable family dinner. My husband and kids and I managed to squeeze in a family lunch this past weekend, but it felt like a cheat.
Blowing off steam with your friends is key to mental wellness. It's true at any age. But downtime is key, too. My problem was that I didn't know which event to deny my daughter. Each seemed equally important. Maybe I have the mind of a teenage girl, but I couldn't bear for her to pass up that yummy time with friends or the date with her boyfriend. I should have found a way to deny her the party -- but if you think that's an easy task, you've never had a face-off with a stressed-out, friend-deprived teenage girl.
Come to think of it, though, that's no worse than coping with the ornery, overtired teen I've been living with all week long! Note to self: Stick to the one-night-out rule next time the fur flies.
|Sarah Bowman is the cofounder of Kids Off the Couch.com. She has a BA in Semiotics from Brown University and worked in the film business as a studio executive before becoming a writer. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two teenagers.|