Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Dear Carolyn: I have taken to doing a carpool with other families for my son’s sport. My son, 11, still does not have a cellphone (nor does he need one). Many of the boys in our carpool have phones or bring along devices for the ride. More than once my son has mentioned that he is the only one without, the other boys are on some game, and he is sitting there bored.
It ticks me off that other parents allow their very own son in the car to ignore others.
I really want to lay down the rules that nobody is on devices in my car when I drive, BUT, I know the other moms will hear this when their kid complains, and then I’ll get flak. I’d hate to lose the carpool. But I just can’t abide having a carful of boys all ignoring each other on games. What to do?
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Ban phones in your car. It’s totally your prerogative and, cheez, would other moms really push back?
From the moment kids are aware to when they leave their nests, they’re all on a journey through different household customs and rules. Any time they visit a friend, they have to adjust to countless minor changes, like (not) taking shoes off at the door, or (not) saying grace at meals, or asking permission to go to the park versus just saying, “We’ll be at the park.” It’s not only common, but also the best training kids get for how to behave in a world full of people. You’ve been a participant in this system your whole life, and got promoted to supervisor the moment your kid mixed with kids from other homes.
So don’t lose your nerve now just because you’re facing the unholy trinity of phones, adolescents and fellow parents. Your car, your rules. Still. As always.
You can head off the other parents by telling them yourself, and not getting judgy about how they handle things in their cars.
I highly doubt any parent will give up a carpool over this. They are precious, precious things.
As for your son, I agree it stinks that other parents don’t encourage inclusion, but he’ll survive 20 minutes of solitary blahs.
Re: Helicopters: Who exactly is the helicopter mom in this scenario? An 11-year-old is plenty old enough to say to a friend/teammate, “Hey, can I have a turn?”
Re: Helicopters: Hold your ground. I laid down these rules: No interaction between seats, talk about those not in the van only in complimentary terms, and no bathroom talk. They got it, they did it, they even reminded ME of the rules when chosen to ride in my van.
Re: Bored kid: Have you considered telling your son to bring a book? If the kids don’t want to talk to him (or each other), you may well wind up with a carpool full of sullen boys. Or worse.
Yes to books, thanks, but sullen boys don’t scare me. No one’s entitled to be entertained at every moment, and people who learn that early are more pleasant – and, evidentially, more creative, resourceful and handsome, too. Yeah I made the last one up.
Email Carolyn at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at 10 a.m. each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.