Ask Amy: Teen driver won't stay the course

  • Article by: AMY DICKINSON
  • June 6, 2014 - 1:35 PM

Dear Amy: Our 17-year-old daughter would like to get her driver’s license.

Her father and I told her several months ago that we would insist that she obtain all 60 hours of practice driving time (including 10 hours of night driving) that our state requires before she could take the driver’s test.

We also stated that for her to actually drive, she would need to get a C-minus or better in all of her classes.

Now she is telling us we are unreasonable, crazy parents for requiring these things. She feels that it is ridiculous to tie driving to grades (she is failing two of her classes) and that because she thinks night driving is “easier” than driving during daylight hours, she shouldn’t have to complete those before she is allowed to take the test. Her older sister didn’t present these issues to us when she was a young driver.

Are we being unreasonable? She reads your column most mornings before heading to school, so she may be curious to read your take on the matter.

Amy says: I am 100 percent behind your effort to produce a safe driver. Your daughter’s insistence that night driving is “easier,” for instance, is a perfect example of how much she has to learn.

As someone who might also be driving alongside (hopefully not into) your young, inexperienced driver, I appreciate your choice to insist that she be a more seasoned driver before taking the test.

Plus, it is the law in your state. This makes it nonnegotiable.

In terms of your choice to link driving to her performance in school, driving (and using the car) should be linked to all sorts of things, including grades.

It is a privilege, not a right, and it is important for a teen to demonstrate the ability to work toward a goal and achieve it.

Is your daughter working to the very limits of her ability? I hope so. If not, my only question is why you expect so little of her: A C-minus doesn’t set a high standard.

A gambler’s daughter

Dear Amy: I normally do not read your column, as I am fortunate not to be facing many of the life circumstances you address. However, I was interested in your response to a woman who wrote about her gambling boyfriend.

My father was a compulsive gambler, and having grown up with that behavior as part of our household fabric, I well recognize the symptoms in what was written about the boyfriend’s behavior. Your advice to the writer was sound: Do not cosign a lease, do not give him any more money, etc.

I would also suggest that this young woman go to Gam-Anon, the support group for Gamblers Anonymous, assuming that she is going to stay with this boyfriend. This will help her understand whether her boyfriend is simply a poor money manager or has a more serious problem. It can also help her determine whether she is enabling his gambling without being aware of it.

Annette Dunlap, author of “The Gambler’s Daughter: A Personal and Social History”

Amy says: Thank you for the recommendation. Although the man described in this letter was apparently spending a lot of money on “scratch-off” tickets, I agree this is foolish, possibly compulsive and definitely a form of gambling. I hope she follows your advice to seek the support of Gam-Anon. Information on local meetings can be found online at

‘Horrible’ is right

Dear Amy: I hope you can stand yet more feedback on your response to the sanctimonious woman who participated in annual outings with other female relatives but excluded one sister. While I was shocked that you would describe anyone as “horrible,” I have to say I agree with you. As a sibling from a similar family dynamic, I assure you that it is horrible.

Amy says: Hearing from hundreds of people who have been excluded and bullied by family members has been an eye-opener for me.

Send questions via e-mail to Amy Dickinson at

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