Are you a good role model or just a role model?
As a parent of 4 growing kids, it’s always been important to me to be a good role model to them. I’m not perfect, but I do try my best most of the time to show them how they should behave in public and in life. Do you have the same beliefs? If you’ve never thought of how your actions affect your kids, especially when they are younger, it’s never too late.
I was recently out with my oldest son running errands when I was severely tailgated by a driver behind me. I switched lanes to let him pass and glanced over to them as they went by to see not only an impatient driver, but a young teen in the front seat as well. He proceeded to tailgate another vehicle until they moved out of their way. He continued to do this as he approached a red light. Why the hurry, especially when approaching a red light that he would definitely have to stop at?
Did he feel that his presence was causing the other drivers to change lanes? Was he acting like a road hog? Was he teaching his son anything? He actually was teaching his son something; how to put their life at risk of injury while driving. I wondered what other driving techniques he was teaching his son. Was he someone who would swear at other drivers and then expect their child not to do that when they start to drive? Would he be the type of driver who would cut off other drivers during lane changes?
I’ve spoken with many of my students who tended to have a bad driving habit and asked why they were driving like that. They consistently replied that their mom or dad drove that way so they thought they could do the same. When speaking with their parents after the lesson on their progress, I had to politely and professionally tell them that their driving behaviour is rubbing off on their own kids. Most of the parents I spoke to had no idea they had that type of influence on their kids driving or that they drove that way. Seriously? Kids tend to idolize their parents and copy most things they do when kids are young. Why should driving techniques be any different?
I watch how my oldest son behaves when I’m driving. He’s paying attention to what’s happening and will ask questions about what I’m doing. If I was changing lanes without signalling, would he do the same? If I rolled through all my stops, would he? If I constantly cursed at other drivers, would he? If I palmed the steering wheel while turning and cut corners on those turns, would he? I’m pretty certain he would and would make those into his habits. It’s a lot harder to break a bad habit and re-learn a good one compared to learning a good habit from scratch. Wouldn’t you want your kids safe in the vehicle when they’re driving?
So here’s the new plan to all you parents; think about your actions and your driving behaviours when you have your kids in the vehicle. Remember that they’ll often copy what they see, even as they reach teenage years. Set the positive example each time you drive. It’s not the “do as I say and not as I do” mentality anymore.