Driven Crazy

20 Jan

Letterbalm Teenage DriverDear LetterBalm: Six months ago, I turned 16 and now I’ve just gotten my driver’s license. My parents have been very cool. They’ve set reasonable rules for me to get driving privileges. I have to keep up my grades, not text or use the phone while driving and give my parents specific reasons for requesting the car, including who will ride with me, where we’re going and when we’ll return home. And, no alcohol or drugs for me or any of my passengers. I’m willing to obey these rules because driving gives me freedom. The problem is friends who keep asking me to get the car and drive them around. Some of them drink and smoke weed, and I want to shun this, but they mock me and the rules. What can I say to convince them to chill?

–Up in My Grill

You’re trying hard to be a responsible driver, and Ms. L.B. encourages you to hold the line against your reckless friends. Popularity often equals stupidity. When they diss you for being careful, they are showing their own insecurities. Sure, as a 16-year-old, it isn’t pleasant for you to be mocked by your peers for following your parents’ rules. But your job isn’t to please your friends. Your job is to show your parents that you can handle driving dependably. Diving is a privilege, and young, inexperienced drivers are almost half as likely to die from a traffic-related accident as older drivers. That’s why auto insurance rates can be as much as ten times higher for teens as for drivers aged 30-59. Don’t preach, keep calm and don’t be disrespectful to your friends, but you need to shut down the discussion. Try this:

Look, we’ve been talking about this, and no more. I’ve told you I can’t drive you around, and I don’t care if I look lame to you if I follow what my parents say. It’s their car, their rules. End of story.  

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