This Freakonomics podcast is a must-listen for helicopter parents everywhere. Don't have time to listen? Let me summarize: you're a lot less influential on your childrens' long term success than you think.
When I met the Push Girls last year I noted that four of the five women I met were in wheelchairs because of car accidents. The accidents were all excessive speed or alcohol fueled. If a smart phone app can get my child home without risking dangerous driving conditions I’d be a fool to not use it.
Parents of teens: I’m going to ask you to do something we should all do at least once a day. I want you to be still and quiet and try to remember being 14 or even 17. Now put yourself at your friend’s house and their parents have just left. All of a sudden 5 other kids appear and they’re thinking about drinking a beer and smoking some pot. What does the 14 year old you do?
The only answer I have is that I know the 14 year old you doesn’t call Mommy for a ride home.
Now imagine the same scenario. The 14 year old you pulls out a smart phone (it’s probably already out) and texts for a town car. 14 year old you can hop into the back seat of a limo and get home. My credit card information is already stored in the app, no money changes hands and your private driver gets you home.
Boom. Done. Decision made.
That logic is pretty sound to me. In our household we have a similar rule in that any of our kids can call us for a ride and not risk getting in trouble. Sure we'll have a talk about it the next day and we'll push to make sure they avoid getting themselves in similar situations in the future, but I'd rather get a 12:30 a.m. phone call asking for a ride than risk having them hop in a car with an inexperienced driver who may or may not be inebriated. Still, how many kids actually believe their parents won't come down on them like a ton of bricks if they call for a ride in the middle of the night? Not many, which is why I like the idea of a kid having a tool at their disposal that can help them do the right thing.
There's another part of the blog post that was really horrifying to me as a father and it's about teen girls dealing with other dads who play grab-ass:
Then Laurie and I started talking about why every kid should have Uber on their phone and when we got to the part about being a teenager and on occasion not wanting to get into a car with a Dad who plays grab-ass the new Dad looked at us with horror in his eyes. Even though 100% of the adult women at the party sort of nodded and knew what that felt like I was all, “Oh but times have changed. I’m sure it will never be an issue.”
For the record it's my opinion that while having a service like Uber to get my daughter out of harm's way at that moment would be a good thing, it would also be of utmost importance that she inform me of the offending father's actions and allow me to use another tool at my service: a large can of whoop-ass.