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Driving With Friends

As a parent, I’ve always felt compelled to protect my kids. I am in no way a “helicopter parent”, but I do my best to protect them without being too overbearing. It’s a fine line between the two, which can most definitely make some aspects of parenting more difficult than others.

For instance, my youngest son is 14 going on 15 years old in just a few months. He’s in ninth grade this year, meaning he has moved from middle to high school and has a whole new set of peers. He is not at all your typical 14-year-old boy and is rather mature for his age. He even looks older, towering over me with his six foot frame. My son is now starting to hang out with kids older than him, that are in 10th and 11th grades, which means I’m having an earlier driving conversation than I’m used to.

However, a couple of his older friends do drive and now he wants to ride along with them instead of just his older brother. It’s a whole new world to him and the freedom excites him. Unfortunately, it terrifies me. Without being too protective, I feel that it is my duty as a mother to worry and to ensure his safety at all times, so we do have rules in place for when he does drive around with his friends.

  • My son is not allowed to hop into a vehicle with anyone that I don’t know. That is an important rule because I would prefer to know all of the kids that he hangs out with anyway and provides a bit of relief if I know who he is in the car with at all times.
  • We also discuss texting while driving. Even though it is illegal, so many people still do it and I want to make sure that he isn’t riding around with kids who do text while driving. It’s extremely dangerous!
  • He is not allowed to ride with his friends when it is dark out. We live in a rural area, surrounded by dark, winding country roads and let’s face it, they’re dangerous, especially at night and especially to inexperienced drivers.
  • Just like in our vehicles, he must wear his seat belt in a friend’s car. This is non-negotiable. Accidents can happen at any time and seat belts really do save lives.
  • If his friend is driving reckless, he needs to ask him or her to pull over so that he can get out of the car. Then he can call me and I will pick him up with no questions asked.

These rules are put into place to help protect him as well as to teach him about responsibility and doing the right thing in any given situation. The ability to abide by these rules and stand up when something isn’t right will say a lot about his character and it’s important to instill these values into him at a young age.