My question is about carpool parenting with teens.
Our daughter’s school in Providence is a forty minute commute each way. When it is my husband or my turn to carpool with two other fourteen-year-olds we learn about our daughter’s social life through the chatter.
Generally she never talks much to us, but she joins in the banter with the two other carpoolers, a boy and a girl. We’re not thrilled hearing about the promiscuity and the smoking of e-cigarettes and marijuana.
Mainly the gossip is about who does what, where, when and with or to whom. They’ve gotten so that they forget that a parent is behind the wheel.
They assume we’re listening to music on our EarPods while they tell tales of their exploits and their classmates mischievous – and often illegal – adventures.
Since our daughter won’t discuss these activities we’re loathe to question her when alone with her. Not that her parents weren’t known to have experimented up until we got married, we don’t want to lose her trust.
The parents association at her school is quite prideful about how presumably straight the children are, but we’re worried about what we’re hearing inadvertently. Our first thought is to talk to the principal.
However, if we do that we would be implicating not only the other two students in the carpool, but our daughter as well. How do we parents go about helping the school help the students?
–Name Withheld, Providence, RI
Your question about carpool parenting with teens brings up so many issues. For instance, if these stories you’re hearing are happening on the school campus, it is school business.
If these are after-school activities, the school may very well tell you that it is not in their purview to monitor what students do off campus.
- The exception is most likely when either overdosing, suicide or bullying are factors, because death or/and mental health effects all of the students and the entire community.
Make an anonymous phone call to the school on a blocked number to communicate your concerns anonymously.
Otherwise you will have to write an anonymous letter to the principal documenting your concerns with a couple of anecdotes.
- Unless you’re worried about naming a bully or a student committing suicide or a violent/terrorist incident , you may be able to get away with not ratting out your daughter and her friends.
Alternatively, make an appointment to talk with anonymity to the school psychologist off campus.
As you probably know, talking this out with your daughter could either bring you closer or lock an already closed door.
If you feel she is too immature to see the larger picture – the consequences of what’s going on – she may shut you out for awhile.
When you learn from eavesdropping during your carpool rides that your teenager is personally making very good decisions herself, you can bring up your concerns over time.
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