Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

My parents are understandably upset and I could use some advice

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  • #843109 Reply

    17/F here. About two months after I got my license, I was responsible for a car accident that severely injured both the driver of the car that I struck as well as his passenger. The accident was a result of me texting while driving. While I walked away with just a few bruises, they had to be taken to the hospital in an ambulance.

    Earlier this week, I pled guilty to two counts of vehicular assault in juvenile court and was sentenced to nearly three months in juvenile detention. The only reason I’m not there right now is because the judge was lenient enough to let me finish out the school year (finals are next week). But on the evening of the 17th, I have to report to the county juvenile detention center to begin serving my sentence. I won’t be released until the evening of August 11th, the night before school starts. So I’ll be spending the entire summer in between my junior and senior year in jail.

    I own the fact that what I did was stupid, reckless, and criminal. I know I absolutely deserve my punishment. I also know that I’m extremely lucky that no one was killed that night. It could have easily ended so much worse.

    I feel so guilty about what I’ve done. I was able to apologize to both of my victims (they showed up to court to watch my sentencing), but it doesn’t make me feel any better. I’m beginning to wonder if I ever will.

    My parents, of course, are angry and disappointed in me beyond belief. All trust is lost and I’m not sure if I’ll ever totally get it back. No one in our family has ever been to jail, so they’re both really embarrassed as well.

    What can I do to show them that I take full responsibility for what I’ve done and that I won’t ever do anything so stupid ever again? I hate what this has done to our relationship. We used to be so close. I want to know if it’s possible to heal our relationship.

    Any advice will be greatly appreciated. Thank you for listening. It felt good to get all this out.

    #843110 Reply

    You deliberately broke the law, and you did something terrible and hurt people and messed up their lives. Now you’re dealing with the consequences, which include your parents’ hurt and disappointment and altered perceptions of you. You can redeem yourself, but it’s going to take time. You will have to serve your sentence, and then when you get your license back you’ll have to never, ever again commit distracted driving. Maybe you can speak to other young drivers about your experience. You can stop saying or thinking “it could have been worse.” You don’t really get to make that assessment.

    Taking responsibility is an excellent first step, but now you have to actually go through the process of rehabilitation. Your parents need to see you do that. Things will improve in your relationship over time. Your relationship with your parents may never be what it was, but it can heal and be strong again. For that to happen though, you’ve got to show them, not just tell them.

    #843123 Reply

    It takes time. Serve out your punishment and then be a better person after this. I also agree that participating in some sort of program or campaign to teach other young drivers not to text and drive would be a good way to actively show your remorse, aside from just serving the time you were forced to serve.

    #843226 Reply

    you made a mistake….you apologised and you are taking your punishment….you are doing the right thing….learn from your mistakes so you don’t repeat them….i’m sure your parents love you and are mad about what you did, but they will get over it….everyone makes mistakes, the smart people learn from them….keep your chin up

    #843227 Reply

    You broke the law and doing so had serious consequences for others, as well as yourself.

    I suspect that the surest way for you to get your self-respect and your parents’ trust back is to serve your sentence and own your story. I imagine it won’t be much fun when people ask you how your summer was to tell them that you spent your summer in juvie because you did something stupid, but that’s what you’re going to have to do.

    If you can show people that you take responsibility for your actions and are willing to do your bit to try and prevent others from making the same mistake, most people will give you a second chance.

    #843228 Reply

    Guilt is a good first step. Serving your time is the next step. The last step is giving back to your community and helping others. Find an organization that promotes safe driving. Speak out about what you did and how it’s impacted your life.

    #843230 Reply

    A little surprised about the people piling on the LW. She KNOWS she broke the law. She doesn’t need to be reminded that she’s guilty; she knows it and is clearly torn up about it.

    If my kid did this, it would not affect my love for my kid. I wouldn’t spurn my kid or be personally embarrassed by my kid’s mistake. I would hug her. I would try to encourage her to do exactly what this LW is doing — feel remorse, follow through with reparations (juvie, etc.), and let it inform the rest of her life and her decisions in a positive way. (That means of course, care when driving.)

    LW, you are not the worst person on the planet, despite how you feel. You made a mistake. Here’s what I suggest: Take paragraphs 3, 4, 5 and 6 from your post above and put them in a hand-written letter to your parents. Just reiterate to them that you want to be close to them, even though you made this mistake. Just emphasize that you want to heal your relationship with them. I’ll be very surprised if that doesn’t make things better. Good luck.

    #843232 Reply

    @FYI – you’re right. The LW clearly feels remorse.

    Your parents have not stopped loving you. You made a mistake. We all make mistakes. I had two car accidents in 4 years, not texting related but just as stupid. My folks never stopped loving me.

    They’re angry because this was preventable. They’re angry because they are worried about you. And they’re angry at themselves because they couldn’t keep you safe and out of juvie.

    I bet this is like when you get lost in a department store or miss curfew, they are worried as hell and then when they see your face, they are relieved and THEN they are angry.

    Tell them that you’ll do what is necessary to earn back their trust and that you hope you haven’t lost their love. Throw a little guilt their way.

    #843239 Reply

    I work with kids in the system. You owned it. Your parents need to own it as well. As parents, when something happens to our kids, it’s a reflection of what me have done wrong. If, you feel like that your parents are not helping you in your process, what you should seek out is a professional. Sometimes, they are able to see what you and your parents cannot. We all make mistakes, some are bigger than others. If you can own it, so can your parents.

    #843240 Reply

    LW, your parents love you. They do. They need time to rebuild the trust, and you need time to show them you are trustworthy. Think of it like the safety signs in a factory. 0 days since accident. 30, 50, 250 days since accident…does that make sense? Carry this guilt with you as a reminder that you never want to hurt another person as a result of your carelessness. It will help you to make better decisions every day. After many many days of better decisions, you can look back with your parents at this dark time and recognize how formative it was to point you down the right path to a responsible adulthood.

    I’m a mom to a daughter who is only 6, but I can tell you that most of the times I feel truly angry with her, my anger is firmly rooted in fear. Fear that she’s going to run in front of a car or fall down the stairs because she’s being a jackass and not listening to me. A parent’s most important jobs are to keep their child safe and healthy, and teach them to be responsible for themselves as adults. I can imagine that your parents’ anger and sadness and embarrassment are rooted in their fear that they have failed on all of these fronts. You can show them that you have learned from this experience, but it will take time. Keep walking the right path. I agree that a great way to turn the harm done into something positive would be to speak about it with other young drivers, and keep others from making the same mistake you did.

    #843241 Reply

    I don’t think it’s fair to say that they’ve let this affect their love for their daughter. It’s affected they way the show that love right now. It’s not forever.

    Of course they’re disappointed, shocked, angry, terribly worried and probably 45 other emotional reactions. It’s really easy to say you’d treat your child exactly the same with no reaction but that is probably not true. This wasn’t just a casual mistake. This was an easily avoidable mistake that could have cost Melissa her own life, on top of the victims. It is very serious.

    At age 17, a parent is hoping and praying they’ve taught their kid well enough to send them out into the world of adulthood. Of course this has them terrified, and maybe even embarrassed that this happened. No one is perfect. Not every set of parents is going to do the exact right thing, all the time.

    The best way for her to earn the trust back is to be remorseful, serve her sentence, and do some good when it’s over. That, and probably talking to them about how she feels, and how she needs their love and support right now.

    #843244 Reply

    i agree with FYI 100%….i was trying to say something similar

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