Driving with an Older Crowd

My son is 14 years old, and we are concerned. He wants to go places with his friends who will drive him. These are not bad places, and he is responsible. We want to know if we should let him go.

--A Parent Soup member

If your son's friends are old enough to drive, they must be at least 16, correct? There is always a concern when a younger teen spends time with older teens. With adolescents, two years can make a big difference. The older teens may already be experimenting, and your son may be exposed to things -- cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, sex -- and find it difficult to say no. Add the driving and the situation could become dangerous.

Does your son have friends his age? If so, what are these boys doing for entertainment? I would try to encourage him to stay with friends who are his age for a while. Delay having him socialize with older teens as long as possible. If he insists on going out with these boys, then arrange other transportation for him. He may be upset, but he will be safe.

-- Charlene Giannetti, coauthor of The Roller-Coaster Years and Parenting 911

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