Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Why My Kids Don't Drive at 16

My high-schooler, who is a junior, told me a story last week that appalled me, and confirmed why I am an over-protective parent.  A sophomore girl at his Catholic school went to a party with kids from the  public school which is just about a mile from their school.  Naturally,  (why, naturally?) there was drinking going on and everyone was drunk.  This young lady from the Catholic school passed out, and instead of taking care of her, the other revelers proceeded to vomit on her, urinate on her, and beat her!  I don't know how badly she was injured, nor have I found any information on the incident in the papers, but my son said she wasn't at school for several days afterward.

Evidently, it started a huge FB war between the schools to the extent that the principals had to get involved.  Extra police presence was required at the next football game to ward off the possibility of fights.

Where on earth were the parents?  Where were the parents who owned the house?  Where were the parents of the kids who attended the party?  Who drove them there?

My kids don't get their driver's license at 16 for several reasons, including the cutthroat traffic in this major metropolitan area.  I'm sure they'd like to have a license and a car and the ability to go to lots of parties in 10th grade, but I don't think it's wise or necessary.  They go to a few parties where we either know the parents and their attitude, or we're fairly certain that they'll be supervised.  At least, if they know we're driving and we'll be picking them up at 11 p.m., they're much less likely to drink if we made a bad call!

I'm sure one of my older three could read this post and say, "Oh, wow, mom, if you only knew about the time...."  It's possible that they didn't always behave the way I would like them to, or that there were other teens definitely not behaving, but I've certainly tried to make sure I know where they are, who they're with, who is supervising, and when they'll be back.  And we almost never allow them in the car with other teen drivers.

Maybe the teen driving is not the biggest issue here---maybe it's the lack of parental oversight, but I think they go together.   If a teen's "mobility" is restricted by the fact that I have to approve of where they are going and then drive them there, I am pretty sure there is much less chance of something happening as it did to that young girl.

What do you think?  How do you oversee your child's social life?  When do your teens start driving?


  1. Two of my kids are drivers. Neither drove until almost 18. My oldest has ADD and after he went to driver's ed at 16 he said, "I don't want to drive. There's too much going on out there." He was too distracted and, fortunately wise enough to recognize it. Even though he has his license now, he's in no hurry to drive. He's on campus and probably one of the few students his age (except for the international students) without a car. I could see him living somewhere he didn't even need a car.

    My second is also naturally cautious and didn't drive until he was a senior in high school. He was almost 18.

    Noah is 16 and has not asked. He has hinted at parties and I have told him "no way." Not unless they are people we know well. I would rather he invited kids to our house but he's kind of shy so I don't know if he ever will. He does like girls, however (a lot!), and I am a little worried about that! He has asked to date but he is too immature. I have said no. Dating is looking for a spouse and he's not near ready for that!

    I think parents today (a lot of them any way) are: a) too afraid go say "no" to their kids. Why? I have no idea. I figure if my kids are sore at me I'm doing my job b) too lazy to discipline and in denial that their kids will self-discipline.

    I am under no illusion that my kids won't screw up. My first did in his first year of college. But he wasn't hurting himself or anyone else (except his grades).

    Cars are scary and we forget how they can kill because we love convenience. I would never want a kid to drive simply to have another driver in the house. Nothing is worth putting a kid behind the wheel when he's not mature enough.

    More than 2¢ worth

    1. I'm under no illusions, either, about kids! I don't understand how people can do what the do though, and why the parents aren't policing them. It's no fun, but we are all going to answer for it someday.

  2. Good post! Here in NJ kids can't drive until they're 17 and then they have a restricted license for the first year. I support that--and if they raised the driving age I'd support that too.
    With kids younger than college age, we enforce a situational curfew (special occasions might merit a later night out)and, as I tell my kids, "the usual terms and conditions apply." That means we need to know the who, what, when, where, how late, AND we need to contact the parents of the hosting kid until we know those parents well enough not to need to do that.
    My daughter can't wait until she turns 17 and takes her test. I already know that I will have to be ready to take away car keys if (when) she tests her limits--and that means I will have to be the one driving her places. I must make sure to remember that I need to do this to keep her safe. Just because you CAN drive doesn't mean you SHOULD.
    That said, kids will screw up, somehow, somewhere, despite all our efforts.

    1. We are very similar to you, Barb. We also have restricted licensing, but that means one of my kids could potentially be with a 16.5 year old driver, and I'm really not comfortable with that!

  3. I agree... where were those parents?!?!?!?!?!?

    My brother and I never partied in high school. I was too busy and I was also never invited to any of *those* parties anyway. I went to a couple parties with a friend when I was visiting her college as a senior in high school and common sense dictated that I not drink anything I didn't open myself so I stuck to cans of soda.

    I also never understood (and still fail to understand) the concept of drinking to get plastered. Then again, my body doesn't process alcohol well and after they had to scrape scar tissue off my liver when I had my gallbladder out in 2005, I decided that alcohol and I would not mix.

    1. I don't get that concept, either, but I know it often happens by accident---not being sensible enough, or experienced enough, to know what can happen. When I was in college, it was just becoming clear that you had to know what you were drinking (by opening it yourself) and never let your drink out of your hand!

  4. a teenager right now protesting the "usual terms and conditions." Too bad, so sad, kid.

    1. I just take a deep breath, and wait for the next one! It's never easy, but good for you for sticking to your guns!


Thanks for dropping by! I would love to hear from you. Have a beautiful day! :-)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...