Some of you know that my 16-year-old daughter became a licensed driver in June. In California, the teen driver’s license is a provisional license. There are several conditions a driver must meet to drive legally.
One provision particularly is creating some challenges in the Donovan home. But it also developing a young woman of character. It is also bringing into sharp focus my willingness to step up to be a parent of exception. Stick with me because by the end of this article it is my hope you will see parenting in a new light.
Provision: For the first 12 months of driving, a minor may not transport passengers who are under 20 years of age.
If cited for this infraction, you lose your driving privileges until age 18.
My daughter has had her license now for only three months and she’s been pressured by her friends at school to drive them around. Pick them up and “Not tell your mom.”
What is even more disappointing to me is other drivers my daughter’s age are given permission by their parents to break this law and allow their teen to drive friends for only a “short drive home.” In fact, this kind of thing is more like the standard practice and kids like my daughter, are the exception.
So, this is how it plays out in real life:
"Mom, do you think you could pick up my friend (her best friend) in the morning. She needs a ride to school. Last time she walked, it took her an hour. "
I will state here that my daughter’s friend doesn’t ask for rides often and I understand their situation as her mom is a single working parent. That kind of life is very difficult and I try to help out because I know the struggles they face. I also know that her walking route is scary and I wouldn’t want my daughter to be walking there alone.
However, the reality of this situation is that I will need to get dressed, drive to the other side of town, pick up her friend, driver her to school all the while my daughter will be driving separately to school, as she needs her car for after school activities.
So I agreed to pick up her friend. I will be honest, I wasn’t exactly enthusiastic about this but agreed to help out.
Now it wasn’t until this morning that it hit me and I said to Caitie, “You asked me to pick up your friend because you didn’t want to sneak around and pick her up yourself, didn’t you?”
She nodded shyly.
You see, my daughter was in a quandary. She loves and cares for her friend and was desperate that she should not walk alone to school. Yet she honestly didn’t want to pick her up and go against our wishes. She came to me, asking me to save her. To help her do the right thing.
The message here is this: I was willing to be inconvenienced and do something that was entirely NOT my responsibility to help my daughter make the right choice.
I wonder how many times we as parents, set down the rules, place expectations upon our kids and then never help them to meet them. Parenting is inconvenient. It is unfair and time consuming. But, if you want to raise children who have integrity and respect for the laws and rules that govern their lives, we must FIRST be willing to back them up FULLY.
I tell my daughter to use me as her excuse.
- “Tell your friends your mean mom said you can’t go.”
- “I don’t care if it’s late at night, if you are even a bit uncomfortable at a friend’s house, call me and I will pick you up. No questions, no anger and no hesitation. I will get up and come for you.”
- I offer to drive other kids. I want to know my daughter’s friends. Where they are going. Where they will be.
- I have an open invitation to her friends to hang at our house. This summer it was my idea to have Hot tub Fridays here at the Donovan house. I supervised. The kids hung out here on Friday nights instead of stumbling into trouble.
We must make the effort to help our kids meet the expectations we set and help them fully to navigate the challenges in their path and to do the right thing. Often it’s at our expense.
Are you willing to be inconvenienced? Take action to help when it the situation is clearly not your responsibility? Are you willing to read between the lines and hear your child asking you to help them do the right thing?
Pray for each of your children by name, every day. If you aren’t praying for them, who is? Be blessed, Lynn