I'm 18 years old, have recently bought a semi expensive car for someone my age, and my Mam expects lifts everywhere if I'm not busy. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind giving lifts, especially to my Mam, but when I rack up an extra 100+ miles a month just driving her to pointless places, it's annoying.

On top of this, she complains about my driving, and the amount of mileage I'm racking up means I'll be wasting money; yet she's adding to this problem massively (another question maybe).

How can I get out of doing so many free trips for her, or potentially getting some money for it because I can't afford the petrol money and she's complaining about my savings?


Although we live in the same house:

  1. I've never been given a lift from my parents unless they wanted me to be somewhere I didn't. I was forced to get public transport or not go.
  2. I pay her over 500 a month for board.
  3. I've been earning since I was 14 doing jobs on the street.
  4. I bought, and fuel the car with my own money.
  5. My Mam can drive but she no longer has a car because she couldn't afford it (so she should understand the costs).
  • There must surely be alternatives for getting around. Does she actually know of alternatives, like a local bus, or have they never been brought to her attention? If you were to say 'no', is she basically stuck in the house?
    – user8671
    Mar 16, 2018 at 11:33
  • Yes she has a bus pass from work which she uses daily, but If I'm free she just asks me and if I refuse she just goes mad. She tends to ask when my Dad is at work but she could wait a few hours but she wants everything done now
    – Twyxz
    Mar 16, 2018 at 11:33
  • Is the amount you pay for board approaching what you would pay for the same facilities from a landlord? Including things like food shopping and preparation?
    – user9837
    Mar 16, 2018 at 12:00
  • @Spagirl about 2/3 - 3/4 possibly yeah if I were to live in a cheaper home
    – Twyxz
    Mar 16, 2018 at 12:03
  • You are most welcome @Twyxz. You might also like to say something in the question about how your family is used to approaching recurrent reciprocal favors (example: one of my young student friend age 20 routinely drives his father to work at a mobile phone company and reciprocally Father often gets him substantial employee-incentive discounts for data plans etc) Mar 16, 2018 at 12:09

8 Answers 8


When being offered a lift by someone with their own car, it's easy for some people to forget that it still costs money, it's just that the driver pays these costs.

Preferably not during a time she is asking for a lift, have a chat with your mother about petrol costs, how you're looking to save money and - where possible - you yourself are trying to cut down on the number of 'pointless' drives (not just those for your mother) as well. She would surely appreciate efforts on your part to save money. Rather than asking your mother for money - which could be a stretch if you're living together and have a salary - this may instead encourage her to ask for lifts less frequently.

Here in the UK and many other countries, it would be considered extremely rude to criticise someone's driving while you're in the passenger seat, unless they do something really stupid like go at 60 in a 30 zone! Next time she complains, explain to her as calmly as possible that you're not doing anything wrong and antagonising you like that really discourages you from agreeing to these lifts. Assuming you're an adult at 18 in your country, talk it out as you would any other unfounded complaint from another adult.

  • I'm in the UK but my Mam doesn't seem to understand that I work and require money too
    – Twyxz
    Mar 16, 2018 at 12:03
  • Do you pay anything to your Mam ? If you are living with her and she is responsible for the rent, food, bills, etc. maybe she is expecting this as a free benefit. That's enforced by the fact that you work. If you didn't participate in house bills, why your money is required ? I'm not judgemental, just trying to understand the situation. It could be clearer if you add some more info in your question about that.
    – iFlo
    Mar 16, 2018 at 12:37
  • It's not just in the UK that criticizing another's driving would be rude. In the US we might mention something but repeatedly criticizing someone else's driving would be considered rude here, too. Mar 16, 2018 at 13:23
  • While a chat about the costs of gasoline may get the hint across, there's also a good chance that it won't. You also do not address the fact that she is abusing the OP's generosity by imposing on him any time she likes, and the fact that she is back seat driver (criticizes his driving). I think you need to address all of these points.
    – AndreiROM
    Mar 16, 2018 at 14:11
  • Based on comments from @Twyxz here, my post assumes that the OP may still accommodate his/her mother's requests, just much less frequently. The fact that she can 'go mad' on a direct refusal warrants a more careful approach. And yes I do address the back-seat driving.
    – user8671
    Mar 16, 2018 at 14:16

I am well qualified to write this answer because it has been an established family task for me to drive my mother or father everywhere if they ask, for so many years, ever since I became a competent driver in 2003. Here in India it is a son's duty to drive his mother wherever she wants to go (but not a daughter's duty) so the cultural background is very relevant to this question.

Even in UK where you live, an Asian or Middle Eastern family may have different cultural expectations in this matter compared to a native British family, because in many Asian cultures (and other "traditional" societies) parents have the moral right to demand anything of their offspring, simply because of their massive contribution to making us what we are, though you can decide how true that is in your particular case.

The ideal interpersonal approach, if you have good and frank channels of communication with your mother, and especially if she is a reasonable and fair-minded person, is simply to tell her (when she is relaxed, and after you drove her somewhere, not before) that it is costing you money you can ill-afford and request her to suggest some solution. That puts the ball in her court and she can decide how she would like to compensate you for your expense, or what alternative she might select instead.

Things to be careful of, if you can have that discussion:

  1. Make sure your mother is in a frame of mind to positively take this discussion.

  2. Be sure not to put her on the defensive by accusing her of wasting your time or money. You should avoid any negative-sounding statements.

  3. Emphasise that you are glad to help her by driving her anywhere but it is costing you, and that is why she finds you saving less money.

  4. So how can you help me to help you, Mother?

If having such a clear discussion is not possible in your family then one remaining option is to assert yourself by driving her most times when she demands but sometimes avoiding it with whatever excuses you think will work in the short term. That demonstrates your general willingness to drive her around while asserting that you are your own person and she cannot take your availability or co-operation for granted. So she will have to be prepared with an alternative means of transport for that occasional situation, pay for it, and also, hopefully, begin to think about the cost of your driving her substantial distances for free.

The best thing to do after asserting yourself is to work out a system of recurrent reciprocal favors that will take your mother where she wants to go and make your time and expense worthwhile. For example, one of my young student friends age 20 routinely drives his father to work at a mobile phone company and reciprocally Father often gets him substantial employee-incentive discounts for data plans, freebies, etc. It could be anything... Maybe your parents could sponsor the next repair your car needs, or pick up the tab for your next educational expenditure? That's how my parents 'recognize' my services as a driver.

That sort of thing keeps the balance in the interaction and reminds your parents that you are now an adult willing to do them a useful chore to be reciprocated with certain benefits, rather than the obedient child of not-so-distant memory. Meanwhile you can consider that you are substantially working off your "unrepayable debt of gratitude to your parents", from the Asian perspective.


There's two elements here, the criticism of your driving and the giving of lifts.

As far as the criticism goes this is all too common sadly when it comes to parents being driven by their children and assuming the complaints are unfounded then this is absolutely something you can (and should) push back on.

The giving of lifts however, I think you need to think of it like this:

  • you get cheap rent, including bills and food by living at home (if this is less then about £1k a month you're probably doing quite well out of that deal) and I imagine before you were earning you probably didn't pay anything. The full costs of living away from home can be very high - and if you didn't have the subsidised costs of living at home would you even be able to afford the car you have in the first place?

  • I imagine before you could drive your parent(s) (probably your dad since if your mum drove she probably wouldn't need lifts now) were doing a fair bit of driving you around to "pointless places"

And you're quibbling over 100 miles a month extra driving and a bit of your time? Seriously?

Honestly I think you need to grow up rather a lot and realise that it's not unreasonable for a parent to expect an adult child (whom they are still assisting) to assist back in the ways that they can, like giving lifts.

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    1. I've never been given a lift from my parents unless they wanted me to be somewhere I didn't. I was forced to get public transport or not go. 2. I pay over 500 a month for board. 3. I've been earning since I was 14 doing jobs on the street. 4. My Mam can drive but she no longer has a car because she couldn't afford it (Which she should understand the costs)
    – Twyxz
    Mar 16, 2018 at 12:44
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    @Twyxz Honestly without wanting to get into whatever the full financial dynamics are between your parents I think you just need to consider this additional petrol cost (which is going to be minimal) as if i were just a slight increase in the board cost because believe me you are still going to be coming out "ahead" Mar 16, 2018 at 12:50
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    @paparazzo I suppose the way I think about it is that he isn't being a "free" taxi, he's merely getting "paid" for it in other ways such as the cheap board etc. Mar 16, 2018 at 13:57
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    A lot of judgement, but not any useful suggestions, especially given the fact that the OP is actually paying rent. There must exist boundaries even between parents and children. Having the OP drop anything he might be planning or doing, and drive his mother around is unreasonable by our cultural standards. Even if he wasn't paying rent, it's still selfish of his mother to abuse of his time and resources in this fashion - he's young, and only just starting his life. To him those resources are much more important than someone who's had decades to set her own life up.
    – AndreiROM
    Mar 16, 2018 at 14:07
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    @AndreiROM From what the OP said: 'if I'm not busy' I didn't get the impression that it's the case that he's being asked to 'drop anything', I absolutely agree that there should be parent/child boundaries, especially at the point where the child is transitioning into adulthood. I just don't happen to think that ~100 miles of lifts a month is crossing those boundaries. Mar 16, 2018 at 14:24

You need to work in some give-and-take.

Perhaps your mother wants to show off a little - either about the car itself, or more likely, about you having that car (and driving her around).

If it's about the novelty of you having a car and driving her around, this will likely pass. This might be a small luxury she indulges in just to enjoy the feel of moving through traffic without being the one at the wheel. Give it a few more weeks and see how it goes. After that, it might be that she likes the functionality or ride of your car - perhaps it has a big boot for groceries. If she is covered by your insurance and can drive, try this:

Here are the keys, Mum. I don't need the car until 5pm. Would you mind filling it up for me on the way back?

100 miles per month works out to about 3 to 4 miles per day on average. If we take petrol at 150p/L and 6 miles/L, that 100 miles works out to about £25 per month if I got my sums right. Topping up the tank a couple of times each month should just about cover that. If the tank is nearly empty, a single tank would likely cover a couple of months' worth of driving.

Meanwhile, it might be nice to indulge your mother from time to time. If you initiate some dialogue as you drive, the conversation might default less to complaints about your driving.

As AndreiROM's comment notes, this addresses "having her impose on the OP's time, the bickering about his driving, as well as maybe getting some money back on the gas used".

If this doesn't go far enough, or if you need to give up your car often enough that the car becomes a communal vehicle - and if you want to address it at a more fundamental issue, try this:

Mum, can we have a discussion about the car? ...

I'm quite happy for you to use the car when you need to, but it was rather a large purchase and I'm losing the sense of ownership of the car while still paying for insurance and fuel and so on - it's starting to feel like a communal vehicle but no one else is chipping in. I'm also struggling to make decent headway on my savings. Would it be okay if we went easy on the car for a bit?

This brings up the topic in a respectful manner while putting the spotlight on the financial aspects.

On the topic of "driving her to pointless places", consider something like this:

I don't mind driving you to places when you need a lift. It's the round trips to nowhere that puzzle me. Instead of all these 10 minute drives everyday, why don't we drive to the park once a month for a family picnic?

The intention here is to change the negative issue of "driving to pointless places" to something that (hopefully) your mother and you - and perhaps others in the family - can look forward to, while reducing total unnecessary mileage.


As it is your mam with whom you still live, maybe you should first consider what she does for you. I'm trying not to make this answer cross over into advice on how to treat your parent, but there is no way to address the question of how to approach this subject interpersonally without first considering your position.

So you pay board - you don't state the currency so I can't say if "500" is a lot, or not very much. But remember that living with parents is not really comparable to having your own place. Parents often do things like laundry / cooking and buy your food for the board you pay, which you don't get living alone! Consider whether you think you are getting a good deal or not before you bring up the expense.

If you do feel that you are paying your way, and that the expense you are incurring from driving her around is unreasonable, you could tackle it from a cost perspective. Perhaps say:

Mam, you know I pay my way while I'm living with you. The car journeys I do for you are costing me a bit. Could we talk about how to cover for that?

BUT if the issue is that want to cut down on the trips and she agrees to cover the costs you won't get your time back. Are you studying? Or working? You could address it from a time perspective, perhaps say you are exhausted from work, or you are busy studying, whatever.

Remember that living with your family is not a business arrangement. She may not see it the way you do. She may just view this as paying her back for all the things she did for you as a child (which I appreciate didn't include driving you around). This discussion could hurt her feelings, so be prepared for that.

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    I think you should read the edits and reconsider some of the details of your answer. I'd also like to express the opinion that children really shouldn't have to "pay their parents back" for taking care of them as kids. The child did not choose to be born, and cannot be responsible for their own well being for 15 years or more. As such, the parent is directly responsible for their decision to have a child, as well as their well being. Otherwise, your suggestions are excellent, and I used some of those same strategies when dealing with a very similar situation in my own youth.
    – AndreiROM
    Mar 16, 2018 at 14:05
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    @AndreiROM Then I'd like to express the opinion that the argument "I did not choose to be born" is an awful, awful excuse to be disrespectful to one's parents. No, there is no way that anybody can pay back in full what our parents did for us, but it is extremely poor if, after years of them driving us to school, parties, etc, we cannot give them the occasional ride to the shops when we finally can. You may not have asked to be born, but maybe your parents didn't ask to have an ungrateful child, and maybe now you're an adult they don't have to let you live in their house.
    – Astralbee
    Mar 16, 2018 at 14:18
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    Well, you're really interpreting my message in the most negative way possible. Nowhere did I advise uncaring, or ungratefulness. However, there is a big difference between being grateful for everything your family has done for you, and becoming their chauffeur, especially when the OP is paying rent, and pays for the car completely out of pocket. In fact, the OP specifically says that his parents never drove him to "school, parties, etc". There's also the fact that like it or not parents do have a responsibility to their child which the child does not necessarily have to reciprocate.
    – AndreiROM
    Mar 16, 2018 at 15:30

Putting this in perspective. If you get 20 mpg, drive 100, and gas is 6/gal that is about 30 / month. If you factor in wear and tear then like 60 / month. Not much but it does add up. There is also your time.

You mentioned she has a bus pass. I get your mom gets upset but tell her petrol is expensive and I have to drive both ways. It is more economical for her to take the bus. I would try and have a conversation with her the petrol is a drain on your savings and you want to keep miles off your car. I think you would have an easier time giving less rides than charge. Maybe say:

Mom that is on the bus route. It is more economical for you to take the bus.

If the weather is bad or she is grocery shopping then I get why she would need a ride rather than take the bus. Maybe ask her if she could limit to 1 per week and she can prioritize which is most important to her. If the average round trip is 10 miles then she is doing like 10 trips a month now.

In the end it is your Mam so go soft and be prepared to lose.



No! I'm not driving you.

Your not her personal taxi. She has no saying over what you do.

You're an adult, you make your own choices. I understand it is difficult, because you're still very young. And your mom probably still sees you as a kid. At some point she will have to realize that you have your own life with your own responsibilities.

I also think it is useful to give a reason since she is likely going to ask why.

"No, I can't drive you. It is too expensive."

"No, I can't drive you. I am too busy this week."

This will have to make her look for alternatives.

  • Although clear communication is the key here, the OP is dealing with his mother, under who's roof he lives (even if he is paying rent). In other words, rather a lot more diplomacy is recommended in these situations. Your approach is a bit blunt, and more likely to result in a fight than clear up the issue.
    – AndreiROM
    Mar 16, 2018 at 14:13
  • @AndreiROM It's not blunt. It's straightforward and a respectful way to communicate. I don't see how it can result in a fight. A discussion is more probable.
    – Boondoggle
    Mar 16, 2018 at 14:43

Just tell her the truth being polite. Arguments:

  • It takes you too much time
  • You have many other priorities
  • You can't assume the costs and consequences
  • You may understand, or not, her necessity to meet you, but it does not means you don't have other preferences.

Just think, would you prefer to not have the car to avoid moving your mom?

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