when is a child old enough to sit in front seat of car?

by gurumommy on July 24, 2012

in from the desk of

My 12 year old constantly wants to sit in the front seat when her sisters aren’t in the car.  I have to admit, it is tempting, since she is just about as tall as me!  But really, when is a child old enough, or large enough, to ride in the front seat of the car?  KJ Dell’Antonia’s article in the NY Times Motherlode states that:  On the one side, number the safety conscious, the emergency room doctors, the better-safe-than-sorry and the American Academy of Pediatrics: children, no matter how heavy or how tall, belong in the back seat until they are least 13 years old.  On the other side are the small risk-takers; those who point out the inconsistency of the rule (what about tweens who are larger than small adults?) and the “why do we infantilize our children?” argument. Along with them are those who say children need to observe adults driving before they drive themselves, who like sharing the privilege of the front seat and who consider the above group a pack of namby-pamby overreactors.  There doesn’t seem to be much middle ground. And – unlike most of these areas of parenting, where we’re a little defensive about our positions, and maybe not so sure that we’ve made the right call – both sides of this question seem comfortable in their skin.

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