The Family Project: Parent concerned about new teen driver
Q. My 12-year-old daughter’s best friend has a 16-year-old sister who just got her learner’s permit. My daughter told me that they went on a long highway drive with the older sister driving and the father in the passenger seat. I am furious that my daughter was in a car driven by someone who has little experience, and hasn’t even taken driver’s ed yet. Should I confront the parents, not let my daughter go over to her friend’s house, or just let it go?
The immediate response from panelist Denise Continenza was “None of the above.”
Even though it was a serious situation that can’t be ignored, Continenza said, the 12-year-old had not been given any boundaries ahead of time related to this situation.
Panelist Pam Wallace said the situation can’t just be let go. “This is very concerning,” Wallace explained. “Here is a 16-year-old girl driving on a highway at 60 to 65 miles an hour with no experience on how to react quickly to a situation. What if someone cuts in front of her? Highway driving is dangerous enough for us, and she hasn’t even taken driver’s ed yet.”
“Even though this is a serious situation, I don’t like the word ‘confrontation,’’” panelist Vince Confalone said. “Instead, the father should talk to the best friend’s father and explain that his 12-year-old is not allowed to ride in a car driven by an inexperienced driver, or someone under the age of 18.
“It is a very easy conversation to have. He won’t be accusing the other parent of anything, but he can make clear his position for the future,” Confalone said.
The 12-year-old should also be given what she can say if she is in this situation again, panelist Chad Stefanyak said. Some suggestions he made start with “My parents won’t let me … ” or “I’m not allowed to ... ” Stefanyak said, noting, however, where there may be situations where someone will say, “Well, then, we just won’t tell your parents.”
“That’s a situation where you have one parent not respecting another parent’s guidelines,” panelist Denise Continenza said.
This week’s team of parenting experts are: Pam Wallace, program coordinator, Project Child, a program of Valley Youth House; ; Chad Stefanyak, school counselor; Denise Continenza, extension educator, and Vince Confalone, Valley Youth House, family therapist.
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The Family Project is a collaboration of the Lehigh Valley Press Focus section and Valley Youth House’s Project Child.
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