Iconic Photo Series: Back Seat Parenting

It’s Friday night, and miraculously, no one in our family is working. Our 19 year old was not scheduled to work at the gas station, my husband’s swing shift landed just right so that he had a rare, Friday night off, and our newly employed 16 year old was enjoying a Friday night with us instead of making popcorn at the local movie theater.

To celebrate this rare night of freedom, we decided that a family dinner out was in order.

“Can I drive?!” our newly employed AND freshly-licensed driver shouted.

We made the obviously joke, “Sure! As long as you stay off the sidewalks!” 

She grabbed the keys and hurried out the door as her older sister shouted, “Shotgun!”

My husband and I found ourselves in the back seat of our own car.

It didn’t take long before the scene in front of me caught up with my memories: YEARS of driving them places…

… having heartfelt conversations with the passengers in the back seat,

… singing along loudly to their favorite music,

… and seeing their excitement when they grew old enough to sit up front for the first time.

Then, Driver’s Ed., permit testing, and eventually getting their own driver’s license, which led us here: the back seat.

All at once I felt the pang of sadness that my little kids weren’t little kids anymore.

My youngest now had the independence awarded to most adults: the freedom to drive.

It was more than a ride in a car. It was a metaphor for our family.

All this time we, the parents, were in charge of their lives, driving them to their next destinations. But now? Now they’re in charge of driving their own lives — navigating obstacles life will surely throw at them. All I can do is sit back and hope they’ve learned enough to drive safely.

My husband and I have taken our new place in their lives. Although still present and along for the ride, we’re now back seat parents.

Here’s the view:

documentary family photography - Iconic Photo Series

This Iconic photo + story was contributed by Pam Dusbabek. Visit Pam’s website | Instagram.


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Author: MarieMasse
I help client documentary photographers fine-tune their workflow + marketing game, so their work is filled with sessions that represent their voice + client values while earning a living. I shoot undirected, off-beat stories that aren’t preserved often enough (like the story of couples before starting a fam or becoming empty-nesters – a dream project of mine), so my clients’ old box of photos is a meaningful, visual diary of their life + legacy to leave behind.

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