Do you promote open dialogue?
I’m a communicator. It’s what I do for a living. I get paid to talk, whether it’s verbally or in print. It’s kind of a nice gig, but I often wonder who is really listening. Are you? As parents we know our kids listen…sometimes. I prompt open dialogue with my kids, especially as they get older and begin driving. It’s important to ensure they know there are rules associated to driving the family vehicle.
When my son wants to borrow the vehicle we ask where he’s going and who he’s going with. It’s not that we’re prying, it’s because we care. Although he’s licenced to drive alone, we always ensure he knows there are times he doesn’t have to drive or need to drive. We’ve often let our kids know if there are any times they feel either they aren’t suitable to drive or they feel the person who IS driving them isn’t suitable to drive they should call us. It doesn’t matter what time of day or night, we’ll come and get them. No questions asked. We just want them home safe. This was tested a few months ago.
Just before 3 a.m. my cell phone rang. My son had locked the car keys in the car and noticed after he was finished work in the early morning. Instead of trying to break into the vehicle trying to get the keys or to use up one of his road safety club opportunities, he called me instead. I was there within 15 minutes with the spare key, unlocked the car and went right back home to continue to get my beauty sleep, to which I still need a lot of it. I wasn’t angry or upset. He did what we wanted him to do. He knew to do this because we have open dialogue. He now knows we mean what we said.
We also have open dialogue about driving conditions and responsibility. We discuss the powers of nature such as when the road conditions aren’t ideal and when to drive, how to drive and why. Ensuring they know ‘why’ they must change their driving habits and techniques is important. They’re still young and inexperienced as drivers, but these discussions are a good refresher for them. We also talk about the future with regards to driving decisions made. The questions we want them to ask themselves is “What would happen…?”
What would happen to their insurance if they were caught speeding? What would happen if they had alcohol in their system while driving? What would happen if they crashed? We discussed things that would greatly affect their future and the safety of themselves and other road users. It wasn’t a lecture. It was a discussion. I’m hoping more parents have open dialogue with their kids, especially when it comes to driving. I wonder if open dialogue happened in this family and if not, will it happen now. http://www.citynews.ca/2013/01/03/stunt-driving-speeding-charges-for-driver-clocked-doing-175kmh-on-qew/
My kids and I have open dialogue many times on a variety of topics. Driving just happens to be very close to my heart. I would suggest all parents have these open discussions with their kids. Let them know what appropriate driving conduct is and isn’t for driving the vehicle and what rules you’re imposing on using the family vehicle. Remind them it’s still a privilege and not a right. There should be consequences if the rules get broken. Remember, it’s better to get an early morning call from your kid saying they need your help to unlock the vehicle as opposed to an early morning call from the police saying your kid is injured, killed or has been arrested.