Man Asks If He’s Wrong For Forcing His 12-Year-Old Niece To Use A Booster Seat When She Rides In A Car

"Nothing I say is making her feel better and she's threatening to refuse to get in the car."

Father unfastens child's seatbelt in booster seat Valery Zotev | Shutterstock

A man is questioning whether he made the right decision regarding his niece and her safety while in the car. 

Posting to Reddit, he shared that since becoming his niece's sole guardian just a few months ago, he's had to make judgments regarding her well-being, including a recent one about her using a car booster seat.

He's forcing his 12-year-old niece to use a booster seat when she rides in the car.

In his Reddit post, he explained that his niece is rather small for her age, around 4 feet tall and 40 pounds, due to an autoimmune disease. "My niece is a tiny kid," he wrote. "She's currently in 4th grade, and she's still one of the shortest in her class."


Due to her height and weight, she has a high-back booster seat in his car, and until recently, she's never put up a fuss about needing to sit in it.

Happy girl in booster seat in car Taras Grebinets

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"I took family medical leave and used almost all of my PTO when I took her in, but now I have to go back to work," he explained. He added that he debated between hiring a babysitter or enrolling her in an after-school daycare program but ultimately ended up getting a good price for a nanny.

"I explained the booster seat to the nanny, and she told me that the other girl also has a booster seat, but it is just a backless one. I thought about it, but I'm really not comfortable with my niece being in a backless booster," he continued. "She barely meets the weight requirement for a booster seat, and we've already had so many health issues since she's moved in with me that I need her to be as safe as possible right now."

He ended up taking his niece with him to get her a new booster seat and drop it off with the babysitter, but when she saw the one that she was going to have to sit in, she immediately got upset. 

"She said all of the other kids are going to be mean to her and I'm treating her like a baby and she doesn't want a babysitter if she needs a booster seat," the man recalled.


Uncle comforting His 12-Year-old Niece Prostock-studio / Shutterstock

He tried to reassure his niece that no one would know about the booster seat except for him, her babysitter, and the other girl the babysitter would be watching, who he was confident wouldn't say anything. However, nothing made her feel better, and now she's threatening to refuse to get into the car with her babysitter. 

It's understandable that he would want to ensure his niece's safety, especially after becoming her sole guardian and being the only one responsible for making sure she's healthy.


According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, for kids 8-12, parents and guardians are advised to keep their child in a booster seat until he or she is big enough to fit in a seat belt properly. For a seat belt to fit properly, the lap belt must lie snugly across the upper thighs, not the stomach. The shoulder belt should lie snugly across the shoulder and chest and not cross the neck or face. 

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If his niece is truly bothered by the booster seat, he should inquire with her doctor or another medical professional about whether or not the seat is necessary and if there are other options he can try. 


"You should consider seeking out a Child Passenger Safety Technician CPST on the Safe Kids website if you are in the U.S. or Canada," one Redditor advised. "They can look at how she fits in her seat and give proper advice on how to keep her safe and what seat to use. There isn't a blanket age; it is all about height and weight and where the belt hits her waist and neck."

Commenters agreed that the girl's uncle was right to be concerned about his niece's safety in the car.

"I feel for your niece. By the sounds of it, she has had a rough start in life," one Reddit user wrote. "You're trying to catch her up and have become overprotective. She wants normalcy, she wants some autonomy, and wants her voice heard."

"Sit down with your niece, explain why you chose the booster, explain the safety, and then decide if a compromise is an option," they continued. "Let her voice her opinion before shutting her down."

@marthamendez_esq As parents, it’s important to create a safe space for kids to express their opinions and disagreements. We all make mistakes, but letting our kids voice their thoughts helps them learn from those mistakes. Let me know your thoughts 💭👇 #kidsopinionsmatter #kidshaveaplacetospeak #empowerkids #encourageyouthvoices #listentoyouthsvoices #parentingtips #lawyer #lawyerlife #momlife #momboss #motherhood #lawyersoftiktok ♬ Morning with U - Tollan Kim

"Given what she's been through, I say you're not wrong to be overprotective," another user added. "I do think you should probably talk to her pediatrician about it, though. Perhaps there's an alternative that's a better compromise. Good luck!"


At the end of the day, to ensure that his niece feels comfortable, including her in the decision-making process can prove to be a valuable solution. But of course, since she's still a child, the final decision is between him and her pediatrician. 

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Nia Tipton is a Chicago-based entertainment, news, and lifestyle writer whose work delves into modern-day issues and experiences.