Teens may dislike curfews, but as parents, we have an obligation to keep our children safe from harm. By following these top tips for setting a curfew, you can allow your teen freedom within limits, while also ensuring that he or she returns home on time.

1. Know your child.

When setting a curfew, take your child's age, personality, and maturity level into account. Younger teens or teens who have demonstrated poor judgment in the past should not be allowed to stay out late until they have earned your trust and proven they can act responsibly.

2. Know your child's friends.

If you know and trust your teen's friends (and the parents of those friends), a later curfew might be OK. But if you aren't getting basic information about where your teen is going and who he'll be with at all times, be wary of allowing him to stay out too late.

3. Work together to set a time.

Teens may crave autonomy, but they aren't yet ready to take full responsibility for their own lives. Still, you can and should involve them in the decision-making process. Ask what curfew time your teen thinks would be fair, and take his opinion into serious consideration.

4. Take curfew laws into consideration.

In some communities, teens are required by law to be off the street by a certain time each evening. These laws vary by city, and most often apply to minors under the age of 18. When setting a curfew time, take your teen's age into account and be sure he'll be home early enough to avoid legal trouble.

5. Don't cave to peer pressure.

Just because your teen's friends are allowed to stay out until 1 a.m. doesn't mean you have to allow the same thing. If 11 p.m. feels like the right time to you, trust your gut. Parental instinct is rarely wrong.

6. Be flexible.

Consider allowing your teen to have an earlier curfew on school nights to allow for time to finish homework, and a later curfew on weekends. Be flexible when special school or social activities arise, and extend your teen's curfew if you think he or she can handle it responsibly.

7. Set consequences clearly.

Some teens will comply with their curfew with little fuss, while others will want to test the boundaries on a regular basis. Be sure your teen knows that there are consequences for ignoring curfew rules, and that you will enforce these consequences when necessary.

Does your teen have a curfew? How do you determine the time?