General Question

longgone's avatar

Do you think this teen is in the wrong, as opposed to her dad?

Asked by longgone (17083points) August 8th, 2015

My dad lives a 15-minute car ride away. By bus, the trip takes about 40 minutes.

My teenage sister (Rae) sleeps at his house twice a week. My dad fetches her, usually. However, he’s been wanting her to take the bus recently.

I’m not sure who I agree with, and I’m being asked by both. On the one hand, my dad works a lot and spends hours in the car every day. Then again, Rae takes the bus to and from school, an hour in total every day, and she doesn’t get chauffered around much.

Thoughts? My default setting is siding with Rae, but I’m not sure I’m being objective.

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53 Answers

jca's avatar

As someone who drives a lot, I can sympathize with your dad. I also know that taking public transportation for long periods can be relaxing. I wouldn’t mind a 40 minute ride, as long as the location to catch the bus and where the bus leaves me off is convenient. In other words, as long as the bus stop wasn’t too far from home on either end, I would not mind at all.

stanleybmanly's avatar

My wife and I have the same discussion since I always volunteer to pick up guests for our functions who depend on public transportation, as well as return them afterwards. Her peeve is that it distracts from time I could spend helping here as well as providing the necessary reassurances that “everything will be fine”. For my part, nothing dissuades me from participating in social functions faster than the idea of standing on a corner for interminable periods before and after. She’s gotten better over the years about it, but still frets over my tendencies to be too readily distracted. Having said all that, I side with the kid. It’s 40 minutes of extra time he could spend talking to his daughter that he will one day wish he hadn’t missed.

zenvelo's avatar

Perhaps a middle path. Rae takes the bus one direction; Dad drives her the other direction.

janbb's avatar

Who wants her there the most?

flo's avatar

Edited: If dad is asking her to take the bus, it could/must be that he needs to. Some parents kill themselves to spoil their children, that is no good either.

canidmajor's avatar

How old is she? There is a big emotional difference between a 13 year old and a 16 year old.
There are a couple of things to consider here. She may want to spend more time with him, and a car ride is a great time to connect. She may need him to prove he cares by making the effort, and may think he’s withdrawing a bit by wanting her to take the bus. It may not be strictly rational, but these things rarely are.
I don’t think it would be spoiling her at all for him to continue to drive. It may be an inconvenience, but having kids is inconvenient, and, well, having any kind of meaningful life is inconvenient.

I am all for him continuing to drive her, I think the benefits to their relationship will far outweigh the inconvenience.

DoNotKnow's avatar

I don’t see this as a right/wrong thing. It’s all about the relationship that your father and sister wish to have with each other. As difficult as it may be – because we all have emotions regarding these things – I think it might be best to let them work it out.

You are being asked by both of them to make an evaluation. Yet, you are in no position to do so because you are neither your father nor your sister. This may seem like a challenge for them, but if they can communicate to each other exactly how they feel and what they would like to happen and why, this could be a great opportunity to form a more honest and rich relationship.

Since they have asked you, you could try redirecting them by stressing the importance of honesty and direct communication.

Pachy's avatar

I see both sides. Maybe she could work out a 50/50 arrangement—one week by bus, one week by car.

wsxwh111's avatar

I would stay out of it, not taking sides and let them figure it out..

DrasticDreamer's avatar

15 minutes in a car vs.40 on a bus? I’d definitely side with your sister, especially if she doesn’t even have to be going over there. I could understand your dad not wanting to do it if it was a 30+ minute ride each way, but 15 isn’t much. And like other people have pointed out, it’s extra time to talk and bond.

kritiper's avatar

Time for the girl to get herself some big girl panties and stop taking advantage of Dad.

JLeslie's avatar

My first inclination is to say split the difference and one on the bus and the other way by car. Or, that they don’t decide a hard and fast rule, but the days your dad feels overly exhausted he just ask her to take the bus. If it only happens once a week then it’s just nice if everyone just compromises when needed.

Then I think about her age and wonder if she doesn’t care if she misses a day with your dad, and asking her to sit on a bus is just annoying to her, when she is already annoyed to leave her every day friends who live near your mom’s house, and maybe being with your dad sometimes feels disruptive to her. I’m not assuming that is the case, but it wouldn’t be odd for a teenager not to be very interested in spending time with their patents.

If I were a teenager I wouldn’t be very understanding of an adult not being willing to drive 15 minutes when they are the one who wants to see me in the first place. As an adult, I understand your dad’s position. I also as an adult don’t mind 40 minutes on a bus if I don’t have anything else urgent to do with my time. I can Fluther on the bus. :).

gorillapaws's avatar

I think they should cut your sister in half and then… oh wait, wrong dilemma.

Honestly there is no right answer here. Your father may not have a choice for reasons you are not privy to (and certainly not us). For example, it could be that he’s avoiding face-to-face contact with your mother (or her boyfriend/new husband if she has one). It’s really impossible for us to know. Ultimately, it’s not your call, and I agree with others that you should let your sister work it out with your dad.

cazzie's avatar

I think if he wants to see his daughter he should make some effort. If Rae really hates the bus so much and he’s unwilling to pick her up, she doesn’t go. Kids aren’t convenient. They aren’t here to be convenient. They take effort and need to be shown that their parents care about them. Parents should know this going in.

I have the SAME situation (even with the same time factor) but my child is much younger and has attention difficulties. His father couldn’t be bothered to come get him and always suggested I just put him on the bus alone, but I wouldn’t do that. As I result, I was bringing him into town myself and taking the bus home late on Friday nights. After last weekend’s visit, he brought him home because he had so much gear with him from staying up at the cabin, but then I got an SMS telling me that the last two weekends of this month he had plans with his new girlfriend with trips out of town and tickets to a film and rock festival, so he wouldn’t be available to take him. It is all about priorities.

ayodele_komolafe's avatar

Has your Dad really explained his angle?... If he has, is it understandable? If it is then your sister should understand with him.
Ayodele Komolafe.

Zaku's avatar

They both have preferences. However, I’d hope the dad would realize that he is a model for his children’s future relationships. He could model a type of behavior that me might like to show is possible, whatever that is.

flo's avatar

This is something we don’t have all the details about, like some have pointed out.
Being in a bus not having to be stressed about the near accidents etc is like being chauffered.

JLeslie's avatar

I get the feeling the dad has been doing the driving for a while, maybe years, and now the kid is old enough to take the bus. Is that the case?

cazzie's avatar

Being on a bus is a series of several swerves and stops that nauseate many people. My two kids have a hell of a time on the bus. Both get bus sick. The youngest one has vomited and passed out on a number of occasions.

longgone's avatar

Thank you. I have been mulling this over, and your input helped.

I’ve decided not to make up my mind. I can see both their points, and that is what I will say. It never occurred to me that this may be a very acceptable answer, one which could help both of them understand the other’s position more clearly. The real issue is the fact that something this minor can even become an issue, and that’s what they need to work on.

Thanks, all!

To answer the follow-up questions: Rae does want to spend time at Dad’s. She says so, and doesn’t cancel unless she has a real reason. It’s true that she is old enough to take the bus now, but she was eleven when my Dad moved away. She’s very bus-savvy, so she would have been old enough even then. I think the change in my Dad’s stance is connected with his girlfriend and their joint schedule.

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JLeslie's avatar

@longgone Well, that detail about the girlfriend changes things a little. New girlfriend enters the scene and now your sister is more inconvenienced. Does your sister like your dad’s girlfriend? Not that I think your dad shouldn’t be able to have a girlfriend, and it’s even reasonable that now he has to make time for more people, but from a teen’s perspective it could be frustrating.

I don’t see why motion sickness came up when the OP didn’t mention anything of the sort. If the girl got very sick on buses I’m sure everyone would have empathy for that, including her dad.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

It’s amazing what communication and a bit of brain-storming can produce. It takes longer to reach a decision, but more often than not, it is a better one than the first thought and even working alone.

It sounds as if the right conclusion has been made: Dad and sis need to work it out between them. It might be worth reminding your father that she is at an age where she wants to be treated as an adult when it comes to communication.

It’s still worth throwing out some of the alternative options that have been offered so far. These may be options that haven’t been considered yet, like taking the bus one way and driving her the other. Or maybe it is dependent on weather and/or amount of daylight.

If the father’s reasoning is more time with the GF, she could go along or even drive his car if he is tired. It gives them 15 minutes of private chat one way, and if the GF has any sense, she would hop in the back and let the father/daughter team sit up front without any verbal interference unless included.

JLeslie's avatar

I’m thinking that it’s not necessarily the father wants more time with the girlfriend, but could be the girlfriend simply pointed out the daughter is capable of taking the bus if she had observed her boyfriend (the dad) is spread too thin. Sometimes a parent pushes themselves unnecessarily for children. I’m just trying to think of all the angles.

jca's avatar

I am thinking a strong possibility is @JLeslie‘s last post – the new gf is pressuring the dad, maybe out of thinking he is pushed too thin, and maybe even out of a little resentment (I know that part is not what @JLeslie suggested).

JLeslie's avatar

Initially, I suggested that maybe he is favoring wanting more time with the girlfriend. Then I kind of second guessed myself realizing we don’t really have all
The facts.

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thorninmud's avatar

[Mod says] This question is in General. Comments digressing from the question have been removed, as have comments pertaining to those digressions.

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longgone's avatar

Thanks, all. The situation seems to have calmed down somewhat. I managed to present my non-position to both sister and dad. Leaving the rest up to them.

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