I’ve been away at college all year and managing my own schedule (coming in as late as I want) and I did fine – I made good grades and stayed out of trouble. Now I’m home for the summer and my dad thinks I need to be in by midnight just like in high school. I disagree. The irony is that I have a job where I get off of work at 1 a.m. and my dad is OK with me coming home that late after work, but if I want to go out with my friends, I still have to be in at midnight. How can I convince him that I don’t need a curfew anymore?
– Second Shift in Seattle
“You shall honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”
Dear Second Shift,
Congratulations on the good grades and staying out of trouble! Dear Gabby can still remember, even if somewhat dreamily, her own college days and agrees your accomplishment is truly admirable. And you know what? Dear Gabby can even remember her own college vacation struggles with her own parents—Boy does she! It sure isn’t easy being the captain of your life while at school and then having to be the water boy during vacations. However, what Dear Gabby has acquired since her college days and you will too eventually – is perspective, gained pretty much by working all day, every day, sprouting some gray hairs from stress and responsibility and putting on a couple pounds from all that stress and responsibility. And this is what perspective will reveal to you: You are not going to have that much more fun between midnight and 1 a.m. You just aren’t. Plus (and this is really the point) your father is looking out for your best interests.
Of course your dad is OK with you coming in at 1 a.m. from work (that’s assuming your work is legal). He’d probably prefer to have you home earlier but some important things require a little rule bending. Going to college costs money. Actually, it costs LOTS of money. Lots of HIS money with your job helping in some way, no doubt. But that’s OK because going to college is important! The fact is, since you are living in his house, allowing him to assume your living expenses, you need to respect that. Compared to all those important things we’ve just covered, hanging with friends into the wee hours doesn’t actually fall into the same category. Say this with me: “College tuition. Hanging with friends.” Do you feel silly yet? Give it a minute.
Can I ask: What is it that you actually need an extra hour to do? Go to the movies? Nope, they definitely offer them well before midnight. Bars? Let’s just pretend you aren’t considering that. Wasn’t it Einstein who proved that hanging out after midnight increases the odds of trouble exponentially? Don’t fool yourself, that’s exactly what he meant by E=mc2!
You know, a long, long time ago, God gave us the ten commandments, and number five in the top 10 things God wants us to do is to “honor our father and mother.” Mostly, that entails giving them the courtesy they deserve for all the work and endless responsibilities they have assumed for our benefit. It also means giving them respect for having lived a little longer, having learned a little more. So try this hat on for a while: respect your father’s wishes and make every good effort to be home by curfew. Yeah, yeah, the fit’s a little tight, I know. It’ll stretch. Trust me. Love is elastic. Hand wash and line-dry that thought and keep it handy for a while. Next summer, if your responsibilities increase and your grades remain outstanding, request a renegotiation – start with a half hour. A sort of growing pains renegotiation. The goal would be to show that by the time you graduate, you’ll have proven yourself to be a respectful, responsible young adult who is capable of becoming a full-time captain of industry, all while keeping her head, her self-respect ….and her job.