No, You May Not Sit In The Front Seat

December 14, 2012 by Michelle

Yesterday, Mister Man asked if he could sit in the front seat.  I blinked at him, confused.  Ummm nope, sorry, Dude.  

He looked at me, frowning.  But, Mom, a lot of my friends ride in the front seat.  Why can’t I?

I sighed.  I’m quite sure that a lot of his friends – he’s nine, mind you, and amongst the tallest in his class, at still significantly under five feet – are riding in the front seats of their parents’ cars.  My nine year old is still in a backless booster seat to ensure that he has the seatbelt hit him in the right place, partly because the Illinois law is 8 years and 80 pounds, and he’s nowhere near 80 pounds yet and partly because I’ve noticed that the one or two times I tried him without it, he hunched over in his seat to where the seatbelt became more dangerous than a savior.

Kiddo, not only is it illegal for you to ride in the front seat before you’re twelve, but it just isn’t safe.

How can it not be safe? he questioned, because that, quite simply, is what he does.

You know about airbags, right?  He nodded.  Well, the airbags come out with a ton of force to keep you in place.  It’s designed to catch your chest, but if you aren’t tall enough, it can break your neck and really hurt you or kill you.  I’d much rather have you safe and alive in the back seat of the car.

He accepted that explanation.  For now, at least.  And I’m grateful that he does.  I see a lot of parenting that doesn’t exactly follow my own beliefs.  I do my best not to judge, but that doesn’t mean that I’m going to change how I parent or what I believe is best for my child – who has never seen a PG-13 movie, for example.  We have a lot of discussions about how and why we do things differently, be they because I really care about what we put into our bodies or I want to ensure the safety of my children or because it’s something that just isn’t comfortable for me.

Not all families will be the same, and that’s a lesson that I’m glad he’s learning now, as I think it will help him in adulthood where he’ll really start to see how life isn’t fair and how important it is to make your own independent decisions based on what you believe in.

That said, one day, he will be twelve.  And one day, he will be able to sit in the front seat.  I’m dreading that day, and not because that means he will be that much more grown up.  When Mister Man is able to sit in the front seat, what on earth am I going to do with all the detritus that I collect in my car?

All the items that live in my passenger seat

Help from parents of older children?

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  • Debbie

    Your explanation is good, and having more conservative rules than other families is something kids just have to deal with. Rules reflect values. One thing though – it is not illegal to ride in the front at 12 and under, just discouraged by the state of Illinois. It is incorrect and inappropriate for you to tell your child that other parents are doing something illegal. That said, if you want to be even more conservative than the state recommendations, that’s perfectly understandable. Just be clear in your explanations on illegal vs. recommended vs. your own extra vigilance.

  • Sandra

    Gosh, I am so with you on this one. I am a stickler for rules when it comes to safety. I know some of DD’s friends who sat without boosters or in the front seat before “the rules” said it was okay. And I gave her the safety explanation as well. She won’t be sitting in the front seat until she’s at least twelve, even though she is tall and almost 80 pounds already. I am really glad to know another parent who is as vigilant about car safety as I am.

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