My mom and I are arguing at the moment about my boyfriend Josh.
I’m 14 years old and have been going with Josh for just over 2 months. His brother Mike (who’s 17) has got tickets for a concert next month in Philly and we were going to drive up, see the concert, stay over and come back the next day.
Josh and Mike’s mom is cool with the plans but my mom is refusing to let us go. She says I’m too young to stay out overnight. I think it’s really unfair and can’t believe my mom is being so unreasonable. What can I say to convince her?
Lacey, New York
Nothing. You can say nothing to convince her to change her mind because her answer is the right one. If you were my kid, this is what I would say to you (after I regained consciousness).
17 IS NOT AN ADULT: I know Mike, because he is older and bigger, may LOOK like an adult but he is not in the eyes of the law. And the fact of the matter is 17 isn’t really that old; in other words, Mike doesn’t have enough experience to deal with all the complexities of life. That’s not a slam, just the truth. What if there’s a car accident? Mike won’t be able to make medical decisions for you. Furthermore, if he were older with more experience on the roads (and life itself) he might have been able to avoid the accident altogether. That’s just one of about a million potential scenarios that scream out to me. By the way, I don’t even like the idea of a bunch of young kids (read: new drivers) tooling around my town, much less on the highway far from home and in the wintertime
TOO MUCH, TOO SOON: You’re basically asking your mother to give her blessing for you to spend the night out of town with two boys, I’m assuming in a hotel room, without an adult present. I don’t really even know where to start with this but let me be really frank. Stuff happens. Sometimes that stuff is not what you had planned or even envisioned. There is a greater chance of said stuff happening when you are young, there are no adults around and it’s late at night. This stuff has the potential to affect the rest of your life in ways that you cannot fathom now. Now, go back and insert either sex, drugs, alcohol everywhere I used the word stuff and you will get a better picture of what I am talking about. I know all young people think adults are mean and out-of-touch fuddy duddies, but we were 14 once too, shocking as it may seem and we know of what we speak.
YOUR MOM IS RESPONSIBLE FOR YOU: Your mom has a legal and moral responsibility to you. Let’s say some “stuff” happens in the hotel room and afterward, you decide to go joyriding. There’s an accident in which someone is badly injured. Your mother can be sued even though she was not there. She could lose her house, her job, her credit all because of something her daughter did miles away. Her moral responsibility is to think about and protect you from the bad stuff before it happens. She’s not being mean, heck, she let you have a boyfriend at 14. She just knows that you do not need to be in positions that require you to make decisions you are not equipped to make. Being out of town, in a hotel room with two boys, with no adult supervision is very high on that list. The polar opposite of your responsible mother is Josh’s mom. What the holy heck is going on there? She’s not thinking very clearly if she gave the green light for her minor sons to go on an overnight road trip. She’s even more shortsighted for allowing them to take a friend. Ugh. So not good.
I want you to do something for me and it won’t be easy because, at 14, you probably think you will “just D-I-E” if you’re not allowed to go with Josh. I want you to go have a mature conversation with your mother. Ask her to explain to you why she thinks it’s not a good idea for you to go to the concert in Philadelphia. When she tells you her reasons (which I guarantee will be similar to, if not the same as mine) put yourself in her shoes. What she is saying is not at all unreasonable; in fact, I would say more adults would be shocked by Josh’s mom’s actions (or lack thereof) than those of your mother. You are a bright girl, I can tell by your letter. I think even you know, deep down, this is a bad, really bad idea. Listen to what your mother says and file it away so you can use it with your own daughter years from now.
In this case, mother knows best. Good luck!
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