A mom turned to Reddit after a carpool arrangement took a sour turn. She had maintained a very important carpool rule: everyone must wear seat belts at all times. But when the other children refused to cooperate, she refused to drive. This conflict intensified until the carpool disbanded. As a result, the other children’s mother wants the original poster to apologize, the husband thinks she should apologize, and the OP’s daughter won’t speak to her. “AITA for not apologizing and causing my daughter to lose one of her few friends?” the mom asks Reddit.
The Carpool Rule That Broke a Friendship
The mom begins her post by explaining her 12-year-old daughter. “She’s always struggled making friends but last school year met ‘Danielle’. To me, Danielle was a little bossy and cared a lot about popularity, obsessed with making my daughter popular but I figured she was just trying to help. And she was nice.”
As the friendship blossomed, the mothers decided to form a carpool. Danielle’s mom drove the morning, and the OP took the after-school route, which included picking up Danielle’s 14-year-old brother. This arrangement worked out well, but there was one major issue. Danielle and her brother refused to wear their seat belts. This was a no-break carpool rule for the OP, who had mourned a friend who could have lived if she was wearing a seat belt.
“The kids constantly complained and would take them off,” the OP writes. “I talked to their mom and she kind of shrugged it off. Eventually, they got a little better about not arguing about it but still wouldn’t do it on their own.”
Refusing Seat Belts
Then came the breaking point. “I had to stop at the post office before I brought them home. I parked my car, walked to the mailbox, and came back. It took all of a minute, but in that time, Danielle and her brother had taken them off. I told them to put them back on. They refused. I said I wasn’t driving until they put them on. They still refused.”
So the mom tried calling their parents to enforce her carpool rule but neither answered their phones. “Finally, I just followed through on my threat and sat there until they finally put them on. It took 45 minutes. The whole time, my daughter kept begging me to just drive but I refused.”
Afterward, Danielle’s furious mother called the OP. “She said I made her son late for a soccer game. I said he wouldn’t have been if he just wore his seatbelt. She told me I’m not their mom, so I don’t get to control them. I said if they’re in my car, they follow my rules.” By the end of the conversation, the carpool was over. But the conflict wasn’t.
Danielle’s mom refuses to let Danielle interact with the OP’s daughter until the OP apologizes. However, the OP doesn’t want to apologize for doing “nothing wrong” though her husband thinks she should fake one for the sake of their daughter’s friendship. What should she do?
Commenters on Reddit all sided with the OP. “I think I would die on this mountain too,” said the top comment. “What kind of people set an example for their children that 1) it’s ok to not wear a seat belt and 2) it’s ok to argue with another adult like that for 45 minutes. NTA. Your daughter might not realize it now, but you may have helped her dodge a bullet.”
Many people pointed out that it’s ridiculous to demand an apology for trying to keep the kids safe. Additionally, many areas require all car passengers to wear seat belts by law. Because this story was posted on Reddit, there’s no way to verify the claims. However, the important takeaway is that the mom’s carpool rule is non-negotiable for everyone. Seat belts save lives, and the comments section was filled with people’s experiences with car accidents, some ending in tragedy and some not.
There were also comments questioning the actions of Danielle’s mother. “I would also be worried about your daughter being in a vehicle or any other scenario with this woman. She is clearly not concerned for her kids’ safety and would be even less so of your daughter’s safety.” Additionally, it’s very likely that she herself doesn’t wear a seatbelt, as Reuters found that drivers who don’t wear them often skip them for their children as well. This is a terrible example for the OP’s daughter.
Keep The Carpool Rule
Unfortunately, Danielle’s mother is not alone. A survey found that about one out of five parents don’t find a problem with their kids staying unbuckled for short rides, as reported by USA Today. However, over 60% of car crashes with children involved happened about 10 minutes away from home. So even if the OP’s daughter’s school was close by, the mom was right in enforcing her carpool rule.
However, another user had great advice for how the OP should move forward. “Clarify the situation to your daughter: you would be perfectly happy for her to remain friends with Danielle. You would love for them to remain friends. And you aren’t the one preventing it. Reframe the debate. Right now, it’s your lack of an apology that’s being blamed for the friendship falling out. That’s nonsense. The real reason is the other mother forbidding her daughter to talk to your daughter. Shift the blame to where it belongs.”
Remember, according to the CDC, “Wearing a seat belt is the most effective way to prevent death and serious injury in a crash.” So if the situation can’t be salvaged, the OP and her daughter may have dodged a bullet indeed.
- ‘AITA for not apologizing and causing my daughter to lose one of her few friends?’ Reddit u/Safetaro. Published June 24, 2021
- ‘Parents who don’t buckle up often skip seatbelts for their kids’ Reuters Lisa Rapaport. Published February 4, 2019.
- ‘Parents often neglect to properly buckle children’ USA Today Larry Copeland. Published September 16, 2013.
- ‘Policy Impact: Seat Belts’ CDC. Published January 2011.