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How to Tell Parents You Smashed the Car

by Anthony Oster

Obtaining your driver's license and earning the privilege of borrowing the family car is a major milestone for most teens. Although many teen drivers may never have to break the news of a car wreck to their family, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that accident rates for teenagers are higher than those for any other age group. If you are unlucky enough to find yourself at the scene of an accident, gather as much information about the incident and try to approach your parents as calmly as possible.

Steady your hands, take a few deep breaths and try to calm down before calling your parents. Remaining calm will aid in breaking the news about your accident to your parents. Crying, hyperventilating and going into hysterics may only exacerbate the situation.

Call your parents and start your conversation by warning them that you have bad news. Kathleen Keefe-Cooperman, a professor of counseling at Long Island University, suggests in an interview with "Counseling Today" that warning someone by saying something such as "Mom, I have some bad news," can give your parents time to mentally prepare for the news that you're about to share.

Explain that you have gotten into an accident. Assure your parents that you have followed all your legal obligations, including not admitting responsibility, exchanging information with the other driver and calling the police. Keefe-Cooperman suggests trying to break this news as clearly and calmly as possible. A statement such as "Mom I am so sorry, I lost control of the car and got into an accident. I've called the police and our insurance agent. I'm just waiting for an officer to arrive now" may be all that you need to say to convey what happened.

Tell your parents about your physical condition as well, since they are likely more concerned about your well-being than their vehicle. "Mom, I think I'm hurt and need an ambulance," or "Dad, I'm a little sore, but think I'm OK" can give them a clear indication of your situation. Your parents may want to come to the scene of the accident to check on you. Don't be too brave. Even if you believe that you have the situation under control, their presence may be both helpful and comforting.

Tip

  • If possible, talk to your parents in person and in private.

About the Author

Anthony Oster is a licensed professional counselor who earned his Master of Science in counseling psychology at the University of Southern Mississippi. He has served as a writer and lead video editor for a small, South Louisiana-based video production company since 2007. Oster is the co-owner of a professional photography business and advises the owner on hardware and software acquisitions for the company.

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