Are we overreacting?

justnotmarthaSeptember 4, 2009

So the mom of SD's best friend (BFF) is a good friend of mine. She called today because she 'forgot to tell me something important' the other day.

Monday night SD went to BM's for her last week of summer visitation. BM picked up SD and her BFF for a sleepover. Apparently later that evening the 4 of them (the 2 yr old daughter as well) went down the road from BM's apartment to the store, which is on the corner of a busy street and a VERY busy street. As they were leaving BM tossed the keys to SD and told her to drive the mile or so home. The problem? SD is 14, has no permit and about 3 experiences (that we have heard about) behind the wheel when she's been camping!!! So not only was she breaking the law, she was putting the lives or herself, her 2 daughters and HER DAUGHTER'S FRIEND in danger.

I don't know who I am maddest at - BM for being a total moron and letting SD do illegal things and obviously telling her not to tell her dad, SD for going along with it and keeping the secret, or my friend for not calling BM up as soon as she heard and saying 'how DARE you put my daughter's life in danger!' Granted, I know she HATES confrontation but come on! She didn't even want me to say anything to SD or BM because her daugter might get mad, and SD might get mad at her daughter.

It's hard to punish SD because her mom was telling her to do this, but she knows right from wrong. She could have, and should have, said no to her mom. I personally want to tell her that if we can't trust her to stand up to pressure and make the right choices she can't be trusted with huge responsibilities like a learner's permit, and she will have to wait until she can be trusted to get one. We could say 'if it happens again. . .' but how would we know?! For all we know this has been going on for a while and the only reason we found out was because BFF was involved.

We JUST talked to BM two weeks ago about many things, one of which was SD and driving. We discussed how and when she should be taught. BM admitted to having her drive while camping, but that was it. It was agreed DH would teach her on a manual shift in a deserted parking lot. . . . or so we thought.

I know BM is trying to be the cool mom, but what is she teaching her daughter? That it's ok to break the law? That you only have to follow those rules that you choose?

I am SO livid right now. Am I overreacting? It's all I can do not to pick up a phone and go off.

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My thoughts are: If your SD would've had an accident, killed or seriously hurt someone, who would they have sued her dad/you or her BM? I think that's your answer. It would be too much of a chance for me. How can you avoid BM letting her drive? I haven't a clue. After you explain the consequences to SD if she does this again I would severely punish her if you find out it happens. There's not much you can do about BM.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2009 at 5:14PM
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no direct, nuts-&-bolts advice to offer, but...

Many years ago, an old boyfriend bought his beautiful 14-year-old daughter a car & made sure she got a "hardship" license (she lived in the country & "needed" to drive to school, can't have daddy's girl riding the bus...)

Within a couple of months, she took a curve too fast & turned the car over.

Daddy was beside himself, cried, whined, pleaded, begged her to be careful with the next car (!).

She played him like a flute, gave him the right answers, & none of it meant a thing.

I told her that her dad was right, of course;
we were lucky to be talking to her instead of arranging her funeral.

Then I paused & added, "it would have had to be closed casket of course;
your face would probably have been all torn up."

The look on her perfect face was one of absolute horror.

& she never, as far as I know, had another wreck.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2009 at 5:28PM
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Check the laws in your state for underage driving and driving witout a permit. In my state this stunt , even without and accident, just simply being spotted and pulled over would have 'cost' the SD her privillage of driving at all until she reached 18.

If such laws and penalty exisit in your state, there is a great start to begin your talk with SD. Not only could she have injured or worse herself and others, she risked driving at all for another 4 years.

Sure, kids don't think about 'what if' cause they are kids and 'bad' stuff only happen to other people, not them , or so they think. Calming but with serious tones sit her down and talk, telling her the laws and the sincere disappointment you have that she endangered herself, the carload and took no consideration for any innocent bystanders. That joy ride, even though she had BM's permission could have cost her (and others big time).

Then if it were me, I would have DH call BM and let her have it with hard facts about how stupid and dangerous it was and even if all are safe, getting caught would mean______.

Also check your laws on letting unauthorized people drive your vehicle. In my state BM would be directly responsible for any and all accidents and would be ticketed and fined for just 'getting caught'.

Let them all clearly know that this is not just a matter of 'don't tell SM and Dad', not only is it illegal but a joy ride could cost this girl driving privilleges for a number of years to come.

Take control of the situation along with DH as this is not a light incident nor to be taken as a fun teenage stunt with BMs blessing. It's serious stuff. How in the world would this child live the rest of her life knowing she killed someone and did it with mom's blessings?

    Bookmark   September 4, 2009 at 5:56PM
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I would address it pretty hard. I would be furiousat sd and at ol mom. I would confront both of them on this issue. A couple of months ago we had an accident in our area where six teens flipped an SUV. The driver was under age and most of the kids died. It is just to serious to play around with.
Plus my thinking is if you cant trust her to follow the rules of cars now... how can you trust she wont overload the vehicle when she does have a liscense or a million other things that teen drivers just shouldnt be doing.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2009 at 6:29PM
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In my humble opinion, you NEED to hold SD more accountable than BM. You already know BM has judgment problems... but if SD wants you to trust her when she's ready to get her license, you NEED to be able to trust her. She has to be more assertive with her mom when it comes to safety issues. Driving without a license at 14 with small kids in the car is wrong on EVERY level. And while I know she feels pressure to do what mom says, if mom offered her a joint (my sister's stepdaughter's mom did that) or if her mom gave her alcohol (my mom did that) or if she gives her the keys to a car when she has no license and there are small kids in the car to boot, SD needs to be able to resist the pressure and say no. How will you trust her when her friends want her to drive after a couple of under age drinks? How will you trust her when you've told her no passengers but her friends want to use her as a taxi? Her mom is not being a mom, her mom is trying to be a friend and she is dealing with the ultimate in peer pressure. If she can't say no to mom, how will you trust her to say no to other peers?

    Bookmark   September 4, 2009 at 7:12PM
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No, you're not over-reacting. The problem though is SD did what her mom told her to do. IF you punish her for doing it, then DH is negligent for not allowing her to be in mom's "care".

Ima, I disagree with you on this one. Its one thing to expect a kid to go against pseudo friends (real friends dont egg you on to do the wrong thing), another to go against a parent. As I see it, unless dad is willing to IMMEDIATELY push for full custody and only supervised visitation by mom, he can only advise SD as to how to act with mom, not punish.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2009 at 8:05PM
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I meant to say dad is negligent for allowing SD to be in moms care.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2009 at 8:07PM
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no you are not overreacting. it is BM's fault, not SD's. SD needs to be told to resist the pressure but not be punished. Most kids are thrilled to be allowed to drive, so SD is no different.

DH has an option of immidiatelly filing for full custody and supervised visitations for mom. If he is not willing to do so, then all he can do is keep teaching SD how to say "no" (don't punish) and keep warning BM. And then hope fo the best...But I guess if he knows that she drives on a busy street and he does nothing, he is also responsible for the consequences and is as negligent, same with BFF's mom.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2009 at 1:55PM
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Although I agree BM is definately more at fault. I disagree saying it is just sd agreeing with her parent. She has demonstrated plenty of times that she realizes that Bm does not have the best judgement and what not. She needs to have better jugdement. If something happened bm would not be the one going to jail, sd would be. That is exactly the situation here with the 15 year old that flipped the suv and most of the kids died. He is in the middle of court battles and going to jail for his choice to get behind the wheel. Nothing is being done to the parents. She needs to realize that her choice to get behind the wheel means that she and she alone will pay the consequences.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2009 at 7:34PM
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But then to be consistent, dad should be going for full custody.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2009 at 7:46PM
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Dad does have full custody - legal and physical. BM has EOW visitation from Thursday evening to Monday morning. She can't even sign a school permission slip.

We've been discussing going back to court to shorten that time to EO Friday PM to Sunday PM for several months - even before all the recent drama with BM's divorce, dating, etc. SD actually wanted it lessened because with her high school schedule and distance to mom's it was going to be difficult. When we addressed it with mom she said she wanted to 'see how it went' before making any decisions. We figured that was fair and thus haven't done anything. . . until now. After the weekend we had - will start a different post on that - we've pretty much decided we will tell BM this is how it's going to be or we will see you in court, and I don't think she will want that.

I agree with Ima on the responsibility issue. SD was strong enough to stand up to mom yesterday and say she was not coming over, but not strong enough to say I don't want to drive a car? I don't buy it. She's picking and choosing when to let mom call the shots and when not to, and that doesn't work. I've got another example I'll post in a few. Like Ima says, she already questions her moms judgment. She doesn't get to pick which questionable things she likes (those that benefit her) and those she doesn't. She needs to be able to be trusted to stand up to pressure - any pressure. She's called to rat her mom out 100 times before - she could have called this time if she really wanted to.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2009 at 4:04PM
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"not strong enough to say I don't want to drive a car"

That's in the same category as not being strong enough to say I don't want chocolate!

She *does* want to drive a car;
we *all* want to drive a car!

That's why the closed-casket comment worked (teen-aged girls may not be able to imagine the permanance of death, but they are horrified by the prospect of disfigurement) when begging didn't.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2009 at 5:01PM
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