Ask Caroline

Caroline Manzo tackles questions on parenting, relationships, and self-esteem.

on May 16, 2011

Kathy from Lincroft, NJ says: Hi Caroline! My children's friends are starting to get their driver's licenses. I am a nervous wreck when it comes to that. Did you let your kids ride around with their friends who were able to drive before them? I would love to know what you think about this. Thanks!

 Caroline says: Oh boy, do I remember this feeling! Terror, absolute terror! The bottom line is this Kathy -- your children are growing up. Part of the process is having faith in them to make the right decisions and act responsibly. I did allow my kids to drive with their friends who had licenses, but I was very strict about when and where. Generally I tried to keep it during the week, daytime for starters. If I saw that they were responsible, I gave them a little more freedom. They had to earn it.

If there ever was a situation that left me uncomfortable, for instance a party, a school dance, anything where alcohol may come into play, I drove them. I never cared what the other kids parents did or said. My children were my responsibility, and if the other parents thought I was crazy, so be it. You know your child, make sure you know their friends, don’t be afraid to set ground rules, i.e. I want you to call me the minute you get there and before you get into the car on the way back, if someone is drinking call home and we'll come get you no matter what time or where you are, if you get into a car with someone who's been drinking there will be hell to pay, etc. Get the picture? Make sure your children understand what a huge responsibility driving is, not only to themselves, but also to everyone else on the road. I always told my kids that a vehicle is like a weapon that needs to be respected and handled properly. There's no room for error.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, Kathy. As our children grow, we experience growing pains with them on a whole different level. We worry, we pray, and we get grey hair in the process. It seems to be the unwritten law of parenthood -- the bigger they get, the bigger the worries. Just find comfort in knowing that you're not alone!