When can you offer a child you hardly know a ride home? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 32 Old 05-23-2013, 07:22 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I had a great conundrum today and thought of MDC right away. My DC is on an under 13 softball team. We got a weird rain delay/cancellation and there was a girl there who was planning on waiting until the scheduled end-time to get picked up, which may have meant waiting in the park, in the rain, with few people around. 

 

I wanted to offer her a ride home but it occurred to me that driving a child who I had never even met is weird or taboo...or something?  

 

I ended up calling her mom, who wasn't home. The girl's brother answered and I asked if he could give me permission to bring her home. He said no. 

 

So... 

 

I'm not so much interested in hearing how you would have handled this (I found a parent who knew her better to give her a ride) but I am curious to know when a child is old enough to consent to a ride from an acquaintance. At 11 I would be pretty freaked out if my DC came home with someone I had never met.  

 

But, I do think that at some point I will need to trust her to take rides from her friend/teammates parents and I know there is some point where I will feel fine with offering a ride to my DC's friend who I don't know well. 

 

I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences. Thanks! 


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#2 of 32 Old 05-23-2013, 07:25 PM
 
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You were probably right not to give her a lift. I suppose a passive plan B would be best - perhaps waiting around until her mom comes.

I know that puts you out, but that seems like the best balance in such a situation.

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#3 of 32 Old 05-23-2013, 07:52 PM - Thread Starter
 
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You were probably right not to give her a lift. I suppose a passive plan B would be best - perhaps waiting around until her mom comes.

I know that puts you out, but that seems like the best balance in such a situation.

I did find a good plan B, which was to ask a parent who knew her better to give her a ride. What I'm more interested in is when do we think a child can consent to ride, or, further, be independent enough to stay at the park and wait for her/his ride?  

 

The other thing that prompts me to ask this question is that, honestly, I don't know how well the parent who gave her a ride actually knew the girl. Part of me wonders if maybe this parent was just less hung up on the issue and was happy to give a kid a ride home - minus all the fear mongering that was going on in my head. redface.gif


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#4 of 32 Old 05-23-2013, 08:36 PM
 
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I'd be fine with a 13 year old asking for, and receiving, a ride home. As for staying at the park alone, it would depend on the child.

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#5 of 32 Old 05-24-2013, 11:36 AM
 
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My 10 YO is allowed to ride home with whatever adult is driving someone she has had a playdate with.  My 13 YO is allowed to ride home with any of his classmates or teammates parents/drivers.  Both carry phones and both as supposed to text me when they get a ride with anyone.  Both normally walk home from school alone, so they get rides occasionally when it rains or something.  They have also participated in carpools to/from activities with parents that I don't know very well but have at least met/talked to and arranged the carpool with, but these are never a surprise and they know who's parent they are riding with.

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#6 of 32 Old 05-24-2013, 12:25 PM
 
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First, the coaches should have never left her.  My dh is a coach and he would never leave a kid until the parents got there, that's not ok.

 

I've given kids I have never met a ride home.  Ds's friends seem to have a ton of freedom for 12 year olds.

 

Ds has been offered rides by many people he knows, he's always refused, preferring to walk.  I trust his judgement on who's parent he would get in a car with.  We live in a tight knit community, anyone that would offer him a ride we know pretty well.

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#7 of 32 Old 05-24-2013, 03:30 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by Evan&Anna's_Mom View Post

My 10 YO is allowed to ride home with whatever adult is driving someone she has had a playdate with.  My 13 YO is allowed to ride home with any of his classmates or teammates parents/drivers.  Both carry phones and both as supposed to text me when they get a ride with anyone.  

Ok, great to know.  I do think I'm on the cusp of changing how I feel about some of this stuff but it's one of those things were I know there will be a bit of grey area for a while.  This child (and mine) don't have cell phones, which complicated things a bit.  Because my child is old for her grade, she is 11 and still in elementary school. Maybe come middle school we'll be more comfortable with these new ways. ;-)  

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First, the coaches should have never left her.  My dh is a coach and he would never leave a kid until the parents got there, that's not ok.

 

 

The coaches didn't leave her but this is a rec league and, IMO, the coaches already do quite enough - I wanted to help, yk?  
 
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I've given kids I have never met a ride home.  Ds's friends seem to have a ton of freedom for 12 year olds.

 

And in your town, that's considered fine?  

 

For those of you who have given children under, say 13 a ride, was that at their request or do you offer?  What is the feeling about telling children to "never get in the car with a stranger" and...getting in the car with a stranger who happens to be you. ;-)  Or, is that not a message that is discusses as universally as I think?  

 

Maybe it's my major anti-hitchhiking childhood. At some point when I was a child, hitchhiking became this super taboo thing and I feel like it was just driven into me that I should never get into the car with someone I don't know. 

 

I fact, I was visiting with an old highschool friend's mom recently and she was reminiscing about how her daughter got a ride with me and some strangers (to her...and almost to me) and how that was just her biggest nightmare as parent. She joked that she was finally able to forgive me after 20 years. ;-)  

 

I think some of this may stem from that for me. So, for me, it's fine to walk home, fine to take the bus, fine to take a ride from someone you know...but not yet fine to take a ride from someone you don't know. According to my childhood, the answer would be 'never'. Ha!  

 

So...I'm trying to figure out what the norms are in my area, I guess. Maybe I'll have to ask a few local parents. 


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#8 of 32 Old 05-24-2013, 03:32 PM - Thread Starter
 
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And sorry for the typos galore! 


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#9 of 32 Old 05-24-2013, 10:28 PM
 
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My kid getting a ride home from a parent who has a child on the team wouldn't bother me one bit.


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#10 of 32 Old 05-25-2013, 05:14 AM
 
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^^ Yep. Mine came home with team/drama parents and vice-versa. No big.

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#11 of 32 Old 05-25-2013, 05:24 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Ok, great!! This is so interesting to me and, perhaps a big adjustment I'll have to make in my mindset as my child gets older. I know that, for now, I would not be OK with my 11 year old coming home with someone I didn't know. I had been wondering if it was regional but Phatiu5, I know that you lived in this area so... 

 

There does seem to be a great deal of variety in terms of early-teen freedom in my area. Certainly many, many elementary school kids walk to school, some take cabs alone and I know that many take the city bus by 12, I'm sure. .Most of my friends still drive their kids everywhere. eyesroll.gif


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#12 of 32 Old 05-25-2013, 06:34 AM
 
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The "stranger danger" concept doesn't really use the same definition of "stranger" that you'll find in the dictionary. Most of the people who agree with that idea will also tell their kids to find a woman with kids to help them if they get lost/stranded somewhere, so I think you're safe according to those people. Then again, you are fairly vulnerable when you're in someone's car, so it makes sense to have stricter standards of trust.

 

Ya know, once when I was walking home in the rain as a kid, some lady I didn't recognize pulled up to offer me a ride. I declined. I was kind of surprised/disturbed that she asked, so I may have made a face or something. (Besides worrying that she'd kidnap and murder me or something, I also had to worry about getting in trouble with my parents for the horrible crime of accepting a ride. Also, I was enjoying rain.) A few days later, my mom mentioned it, because she'd been talking to the lady, and she wanted to let me know it was safe to ride with her. It turned out the lady and my mom both believed that the reason I'd decline a ride was because the lady had been in a car accident a few months ago, like the fact I'd never seen her before in my life had nothing to do with it! (She was the mom of an older kid who lived two houses down, so I might've encountered he a few times without remembering her. Definitely not a close family friend or anything.) This is despite the fact that my mom was really big on stranger danger. I was forbidden to make polite conversation with a friendly old man who lived in our neighborhood, in the middle of the afternoon, in my front yard, while my parents were home. (To this day, I tear up when I remember telling that guy, "My parents said I'm not allowed to talk to you," because he thought I didn't hear him when I didn't respond at all. How horrible.)

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#13 of 32 Old 05-25-2013, 07:11 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Yea, it's an interesting contradiction for me in that we don't do the whole "stranger danger" thing a la Gavin DeBeckam but I'm still attached to the "don't get in the car with a stranger". That's probably because my parents weren't into stranger danger either...and, yet, had these rules about taking rides. AND...also because I certainly am not afraid of strangers as an adult and, yet, when I look back on the times that I've taken rides from strangers, I think of that as a sort of stupid decision (despite the fact that they all turned out fine). For me, I guess, there is something unique about car-rides. Now it's up to me to figure out what's based in sound decision making and legitimate risk and what's based on irrational fear. 

 

Also, as my child (a girl) gets older, I suppose I am starting to get aware of some of the other risks she'll face as a young woman and I suppose that has something to do with this as well...


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#14 of 32 Old 05-25-2013, 07:13 AM - Thread Starter
 
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The "stranger danger" concept doesn't really use the same definition of "stranger" that you'll find in the dictionary. Most of the people who agree with that idea will also tell their kids to find a woman with kids to help them if they get lost/stranded somewhere, so I think you're safe according to those people.

Yes, except, I'm not sure they would advise the child to get into a car with that woman...? 


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#15 of 32 Old 05-25-2013, 07:36 AM
 
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Coming in late but just want to say that I don't offer rides to the under high school set unless I actually talk to a parent about it. I have sat and waited with kids whose parents were late but there are other factors.... like giving a ride home to a kid only to have mom show up 5 minutes later freaking out because their kid is gone. I'd hate to get in an accident with a child when that parent didn't even know they were with me. Stuff like that.

 

Frankly, I think middle schoolers are the most at risk of making poor decisions in this regard. The elementary set will want to connect with someone they trust and most likely to call mom first. They still take to heart all the assemblies lol. Middle schoolers can be quite impulsive and less likely to think a thing through.They often see themselves as the exception to the rule. Plus, they are more a target. Twice a year we get a note home that a local middle school girl was approached by a stranger on the way home offering a ride....not by a mom and a kid and possibly a well-meaning man but it can be easier to have black and white rules with the tween/early teen set and save the gray for when they are little more mature (14ish-18.)

 

As for my kids, I don't know that they've ever been in the situation of needing a ride from a stranger. We live on the outskirts of the county. Every activity is at least 20 minutes in the wrong direction from everyone else. We have a lot of family willing to drop anything to grab a kid if they call. We have a lot of friends in the same activities that feel like family that are on the approved pick-up list. Sure, the kids call once in awhile and ask if they can go home with a friend (and their parent) or now that my eldest is a teen, call about driving with a friend someplace after an activity. That is generally fine (as long as the kid can legally do so.) 


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#16 of 32 Old 05-25-2013, 01:45 PM
 
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I never want my DD accepting a ride from someone without knowing the person. I did this twice with very bad consequences when I was twelve. I also don't offer rides and don't plan to.
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#17 of 32 Old 05-25-2013, 05:43 PM
 
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This is what I think, too. My kids are six and almost nine. I haven't done drop off like that, yet, but I don't exactly see the parents of teammates as "strangers."
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My kid getting a ride home from a parent who has a child on the team wouldn't bother me one bit.
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#18 of 32 Old 05-26-2013, 12:07 AM
 
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To your question about at what age a child/teen can consent to a ride is going to have a different answer in every family, and the age I would be fine with my own child accepting a ride may be completely different than the age that her friend's parent feels is OK. Many children are instructed to not ride with anyone except for mom and dad and a very short list of other people.

 

 

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Coming in late but just want to say that I don't offer rides to the under high school set unless I actually talk to a parent about it. I have sat and waited with kids whose parents were late but there are other factors.... like giving a ride home to a kid only to have mom show up 5 minutes later freaking out because their kid is gone. I'd hate to get in an accident with a child when that parent didn't even know they were with me. Stuff like that.

 

Agreed. I think it is really a bad idea to give a kid a ride without communicating with a parent, though I have waited with children and TEENS! when their parent was late.

 

I also think that the coach is the key person if a parent is late, not another parent. The parents all know the coach, but often they don't all know each other. 

 

For us, the age at which I felt fine with my kids being places without me was the exact same age I became OK with them having cell phones.


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#19 of 32 Old 05-26-2013, 02:37 PM
 
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I would be okay with my child riding home with a teammate or school class mate and that child's parent. Not so sure how I would feel if it was just the parent and no other kid involved.

 

However, I do think this is completely the coach's responsibility. I would expect that there would have been plans made for what to do in the event of a game cancellation and who was on the approved list to pick up kids. Did you not have to fill out something like this when you signed up? Seems like I have to fill it out for everything we do. I would also be concerned that the parent would be on the way (the brother or coach could have called the parents and told them) and we would pass or if you hadn't called first you and gotten the brother you could run into a situation where you took the kid home, but no one else was home. The coach should have a list of contact numbers with land lines and cell phones for emergencies and it should all go through the coach. At the minimum he/she should place the call to the parent and say, "I have another parent here willing to give your child a ride. Would you like to talk to them about it?"

 

My kid doesn't play softball, but she does dance and I imagine like with dance class there are lots of parents who go run errands while the kid is doing their thing. If another parent were to bring my child home from dance while I was out running errands I would be very much annoyed. My kids (12 and 9) don't usually carry their keys so they would have no way to get into the house. If they called and reached me at home I would be fine with it, but otherwise I would need to know that the schedule had changed and then I could leave the grocery store or wherever and pick her up at dance or meet her at home.

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#20 of 32 Old 05-27-2013, 08:49 AM
 
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Ok, great to know.  I do think I'm on the cusp of changing how I feel about some of this stuff but it's one of those things were I know there will be a bit of grey area for a while.  This child (and mine) don't have cell phones, which complicated things a bit.  Because my child is old for her grade, she is 11 and still in elementary school. Maybe come middle school we'll be more comfortable with these new ways. ;-)  

 

And in your town, that's considered fine?  

 

 

It's a pretty small town, I'd say out of the 200ish  kids in the 6th grade, I know 75% of the parents in some way or another.  If one random kid I've never met before shows up with my ds and 3 kids I do know, I feel ok giving him a ride to the other side of town.  If it's someone I've never heard about I do make him call his parents though. Ds has a really big social circle, between all the sports he plays he probably has contact with every boy in school in one way or another.  Small towns are good like that :D

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#21 of 32 Old 06-03-2013, 10:17 AM
 
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I think it's nuanced and different for different kids, different ages.  I wouldn't be comfortable driving an 11 year old home if I'd only ever met them in passing at little league. I would be a little upset if a parent drove my kid home without contacting me.  However, I'd rather a relatively unknown mom drive my kid home, over a male coach. Sorry, not pleasant, I know. Not going to apologize for it, though.

 

What should happen is for someone to contact me and ask if I'm on my way or if I've arranged a ride for my kid.  And if I'm on my way but running late, yes, I would appreciate it if an adult, male or female, would hang until I get there. 

 

And yes, it's thoroughly annoying to go pick my kid up only to find some well meaning parent has taken my kid home. That happened once, and I was angry and frustrated, but biting my tongue because this person had done a nice thing for me. How difficult is it to call me? 

 

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Yea, it's an interesting contradiction for me in that we don't do the whole "stranger danger" thing a la Gavin DeBeckam but I'm still attached to the "don't get in the car with a stranger". That's probably because my parents weren't into stranger danger either...and, yet, had these rules about taking rides. AND...also because I certainly am not afraid of strangers as an adult and, yet, when I look back on the times that I've taken rides from strangers, I think of that as a sort of stupid decision (despite the fact that they all turned out fine). For me, I guess, there is something unique about car-rides.

 

Gavin DeBecker makes two really important points, that can seem like they're at odds. One, Society as a whole needs to prioritize 'acquaintance danger' way ahead of stranger danger, as on average that's where most danger lies.  However, he says we, women especially, need to listen to and trust our internal alarm bells, whether it's with acquaintances or strangers. One-Girl's experience can't be denied. My own particular emphasis, don't put being polite and afraid of disappointing people, even complete strangers, ahead of your gut feelings.  We can teach our kids, and ourselves, to politely but firmly shut down people who are making us uncomfortable.

 

I guess I'm just saying that we shouldn't apologize for being hung up on turning our kids safety over to unknown adults. 

 

That said, my 13 y.o. daughter delighted in offering to give her middle school friends rides home, and then ask me if I would do it.  eyesroll.gif  These girls were complete strangers to me.  I always required them to call a parent and ask for permission. They always said yes. I don't know that I would have done the same.  


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#22 of 32 Old 06-03-2013, 01:50 PM
 
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DD1 carries a cell phone, she is 10. This has come up before and I require that she call me first before accepting a ride just I know who she is she with. For the record, I am ok with it. If this is a rec softball team, I know our parks and rec dept have limited parental info, usually just one number to call. We've gotten rained out before with no parents around for little kids before and the coaches would pile kids in any car and just sit in the parking lot waiting and trying to call people. I have taken other kids before without prior parental notice but I do also require that the child call right then and request approval. Our town is informal though, I can go downtown for fro yo and end up with two extra kids that I ran into walking on the way who want me take them back to my house to my kids.

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#23 of 32 Old 06-03-2013, 06:07 PM
 
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"Yea, it's an interesting contradiction for me in that we don't do the whole "stranger danger" thing a la Gavin DeBeckam but I'm still attached to the "don't get in the car with a stranger".
 

I love me some Gavin DeBecker. The question is, "Would he really consider a mom of another kid on the team a 'stranger'?" Or can we assume that she is someone who is safe enough to let drive a child home?

 

Another thought to consider is that if the parent has dropped the child off at an activity and is not coming to pick them up, we're safe in assuming that they are at least comfortable with the kid walking home alone.


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#24 of 32 Old 06-04-2013, 07:59 AM
 
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Originally Posted by phathui5 View Post
 

The question is, "Would he really consider a mom of another kid on the team a 'stranger'?" Or can we assume that she is someone who is safe enough to let drive a child home?

 

Another thought to consider is that if the parent has dropped the child off at an activity and is not coming to pick them up, we're safe in assuming that they are at least comfortable with the kid walking home alone.

 

But we don't know that the other parent ISN'T coming. There in lies the rub. The other parent could be on their way to the activity right that minute.

 

 

We also would be second guessing if the other parent would consider us a "stranger." When it comes to other people's children, isn't it better to error on the side of not freaking out the parent by assuming "non stranger" status?


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#25 of 32 Old 06-04-2013, 08:47 AM
 
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Originally Posted by IdentityCrisisMama View Post

Yea, it's an interesting contradiction for me in that we don't do the whole "stranger danger" thing a la Gavin DeBeckam but I'm still attached to the "don't get in the car with a stranger". That's probably because my parents weren't into stranger danger either...and, yet, had these rules about taking rides. AND...also because I certainly am not afraid of strangers as an adult and, yet, when I look back on the times that I've taken rides from strangers, I think of that as a sort of stupid decision (despite the fact that they all turned out fine). For me, I guess, there is something unique about car-rides. Now it's up to me to figure out what's based in sound decision making and legitimate risk and what's based on irrational fear. 

 

Getting in a car with somebody puts you at their mercy in a way that many of the other day-to-day interactions don't, so if the person happens to be that one-in-a-million malicious stranger, then getting in the car with them is bad.  There's a reason so many abduction stories start with the abductee being forced or lured into a vehicle.  Also, even if the driver is somebody that's otherwise trustworthy, that doesn't mean they should be trusted to drive your kids.  There are a LOT of drivers who think it's fine to use their cell-phones while driving, or speed constantly, or who turn into raging maniacs behind the wheel, or drive erratically due to anxiety or who just aren't very good at driving.  I don't think that being more cautious about car-rides is irrational, I think there are legitimate reasons for the special rules.

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#26 of 32 Old 06-07-2013, 08:07 AM
 
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Originally Posted by IdentityCrisisMama View Post

I'm not so much interested in hearing how you would have handled this (I found a parent who knew her better to give her a ride) but I am curious to know when a child is old enough to consent to a ride from an acquaintance. At 11 I would be pretty freaked out if my DC came home with someone I had never met.  

 

But, I do think that at some point I will need to trust her to take rides from her friend/teammates parents and I know there is some point where I will feel fine with offering a ride to my DC's friend who I don't know well. 

 

I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences. Thanks! 

Personally, I don't think you should have done this.

Idk why but its rubs me up the wrong way.

I know it's raining and you did it with the best of intentions... but making it a big deal or the responsibility of another parent is wrong. What if she wasn't dropped off right and got lost or something like that by that parent?What if she had been forbade from taking rides and then felt compelled because you interfered? (i know these are extremes...but still when I was younger I was forbade and other parents did not seem to understand I wasn't trying to be difficult when I said 'I'm fine, go away') I would just tell the girl to stay with the coach which is probably what the mother would have expected when she did eventually come to pick her up or if I really felt like I needed to insure her safety. I would offer a ride if I knew the parent wouldn't mind or I called them and got permission but otherwise...

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#27 of 32 Old 06-07-2013, 10:30 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by k x s View Post

Personally, I don't think you should have done this.

Idk why but its rubs me up the wrong way

I know it's raining and you did it with the best of intentions... but making it a big deal or the responsibility of another parent is wrong. 

With respect, I'm surprised that you feel there is enough information to form this opinion. I was deliberately vague about this particular situation because I really wanted to discuss this in a more general way. 

 

If it would give comfort to know what happened, I'll tell you that to reached out to a child who was going to either going to wait in a busy intersection or walk home during a delay (thunder). I told her that I would give her a ride if we could reach her parent. When we couldn't reach her mother I told the coach (another parent) what the child's plans were.   

 

I realize that the coach is the obvious "go to" here but I will say that, for me, leaving all these little details up to the coach makes me feel a bit badly for them and I was just trying to pitch in to help. 


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#28 of 32 Old 06-07-2013, 02:53 PM
 
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Originally Posted by IdentityCrisisMama View Post

I realize that the coach is the obvious "go to" here but I will say that, for me, leaving all these little details up to the coach makes me feel a bit badly for them and I was just trying to pitch in to help. 

 

Well, when asked here at MDC I, of course, have very specific ideas about right and wrong. But in real life there's more than one right way to do things.  What you did was just fine, IMO.


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#29 of 32 Old 06-10-2013, 04:29 PM
 
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I would probably be grateful that someone drove my child home.  I would be a little more concerned with "Do you know the girl?" than "Do you know her parents?"  I'm not sure why.  I guess, because my daughter knows which kids are jerks and which ones are nice.  

 

We had one really bad experience with a "Can I drive her home?"  Because I said "sure", and they meant to THEIR house in the middle of the desert 20 miles away.  No cell phone reception.  After that, I was a little more leery.  

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#30 of 32 Old 06-11-2013, 09:55 AM
 
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With respect, I'm surprised that you feel there is enough information to form this opinion. I was deliberately vague about this particular situation because I really wanted to discuss this in a more general way. 

 

If it would give comfort to know what happened, I'll tell you that to reached out to a child who was going to either going to wait in a busy intersection or walk home during a delay (thunder). I told her that I would give her a ride if we could reach her parent. When we couldn't reach her mother I told the coach (another parent) what the child's plans were.   

 

I realize that the coach is the obvious "go to" here but I will say that, for me, leaving all these little details up to the coach makes me feel a bit badly for them and I was just trying to pitch in to help. 

Well yeah?! I mean you said a kid got driven home without the parent being contacted... For some parents that scenario would reflect badly on the coach. (liability issues...etc) Maybe not mothering types but others are more conservative. (yes I realise it was with someone the kid knew but the parent didn't give permission and generally I would expect more professionalism from a coach then for them to be okay with other parents organizing it between themselves.)

I'm just throwing it out there for you to consider but I guess it probably really depends on what your town/culture is like. In the area I'm in an area where people are crazy protective/traditional minded about things like this.

Anyway... to your original question.

When is child is old enough to consent to a ride from an acquaintance? Depends on how independent they are and whether they have the maturity to follow rules or not. I think 10 and under is when they can't. I think I was old enough to consent when I was 11 but I had a phone and there were rules. DH wasn't allowed to walk to the shops alone at 11! I had to navigate getting to high-school in the city (1hr away) on time via public transport when I was 11 so I had more freedom to judge. Though I know my parents would have been supremely uncomfortable if I accepted a ride from an acquaintance that they didn't know when I was 11 even if there were extenuating circumstances. 

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