How to hang out with friends when you can’t drive

prettyndsweet12 asks: I’m finally 15 ! It seems like just yesterday I was 12 years old, struggling with my medical condition asking you for help. Now my life has changed a lot. I’m tired of people asking me to hang out and having to turn them down because I have no ride, or I’m scared to ask my mom. I wanna be the 15 year old that shops with her friends, has sleepovers, hangs out and even gets in trouble for being out to late! Where do I start – but most importantly how do I start? I don’t feel comfortable asking my mom to let me get picked up by a 16-year-old boy, but I want the teenage experience!

Hi prettyndsweet12 –

So if I understand your question rightly, you’re saying that your friends are asking you to come out and have fun, and you’re eager to do it, but you feel you can’t because you don’t have a ride and you’re not comfortable asking your mom.  Is that right?

I might be missing something here, but my first thought is — how are they getting to where they meet up?  Can they pick you up, or could their parents pick you up?  And if they’re too far away for that, can you take a bus or even a cab, to get to them?

I’m wondering if you’re being more worried than you should about asking.  If any of these friends of yours can drive, they’ll probably love coming over to get you.  When Handsome was in high school, one of his best friends was a super-smart kid who’d skipped two years of school, and so wasn’t legally allowed to drive even in their senior year.  And Handsome’s needing to drive him often actually made them better friends, to the degree they’re still close many years later.

So I’d say to give those cool kids you want to hang with a try.  But if they can’t help you out, then I’m all for public transportation.

But now, about your concern about your mom… so it sounds to me like you’re up against some issues about definitions.  You say you want the “teenage experience,” but you are worried about getting a drive from a 16-year-old boy; and you want your mother to consider you responsible, but you’re not believing she can be okay either letting you be in other kids’ cars or giving you lifts herself.  I think you’re asking for some things that can’t work!

So my main suggestion is to give this problem to your mom!  She can do a number of things.  She can agree to drive you until you have older friends she can trust more.  She can find out the 16-year-old boys’ contact information and call him and talk to him, and then perhaps even talk with his parents, to see if she feels trusting enough of him.  And she can do what I think is the best thing ANY parent of a teen can do, which is to set new firm boundaries on their kid.

What do I mean by that?  Well, it sounds like everyone’s agreeing you should be able to go out with these other teens.  But the old childhood rules don’t work with that.  So what could some new rules look like?  For example: she has to know who you’re with, you have to always have a mobile phone and answer it if she calls (even if that means you have to run out of a movie or something to do so), you have to be home by a certain hour, you can never get into a car where the driver is intoxicated in any way… etc.

And she can enforce these rules VERY strictly.  For example, if she calls and you don’t answer, you lose your phone and going-out privileges for two weeks.  If you show up after your curfew, you don’t get to go out for a month.  And if you let a boy who’s been drinking drive you home, you can’t go out for three months!

What we’re doing here is letting you grow up some, but without her losing all control over your life.  Fifteen is a lot more mature than twelve, but it’s still an age where parents see their kids as not ready to make all their own decisions.  Besides, it can actually make your life with your peers easier if you have her strict rules to blame stuff on (For example, you might not want to offend a kid who’s had a joint and wants to drive you, but you could say “My mom is so mean and she’d just kill us both if I let you!” – which gets you off the hook for not wanting to get in the car with them!).

So I’d say to go to her with some ideas like these.  You could even make up the rules and the possible consequences yourself.  I can just about promise you, she’ll be blown away by how mature and responsible you seem if you do this!

So could that work?

Let me know!


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