Car-proofing your kidsBy Jeanette Ipapo-Tuason
Philippine Daily Inquirer
I just got a letter from a male reader who asked on how to teach his daughter to drive without crashing his precious ride. What caught my attention was his fear of going into the driving school thinking that his darling daughter might be mistreated by the instructors. Now that I have an adolescent son, I am starting to think about issues parents have when their precious offspring starts to spread their wings and start driving. How to make sure our kids drive responsibly, not race on public roads, not using bumps as chicanes, not drinking and driving, not getting carnapped, etc., are just some of the fears that keeps us awake at night once they start looking or asking for the car keys.
Learning how to drive is probably one of the most important rites of passage into adulthood. It is freedom. Having their own car is totally wicked; imagine freedom on wheels. Us parents, we want to give the best possible growing up experiences for our kids, which of course include being über cool. Having wheels is a big chunk of coolness, especially with a male offspring. But we have to manage this desire with teaching them the basic disciplines and skill that will help protect them on the road. Here are some advice in car proofing your kids:
1. Follow the law on driver’s license age requirement.
As much as you want to give them cars at an early age, follow the age requirement for getting a driver’s license. Going against it will backfire; you are not being a good example. On the onset of his motoring life he is already breaking the law.
2. Give cars as a prize or incentive, not a privilege.
Even if you are so rich or your car collection can rival a car dealership it does not mean a brand-new car for no reason is unconditional love. You are to provide means of transportation, which can actually be done using the MRT, taxi, jeepney or the family car. Giving them their own set of wheels has to stand for something or work as a positive reinforcement; a prize for finishing high school without you having a heart attack or becoming a grandfather at a tender age of 40. This would make them show more respect for the vehicle because it’s hard-earned.
3. Get them the training they need.
You buy them a P40,000 phone, a P1 million-peso car, yet you skimp on possible training and enriching courses that would help them on the road. Go to a reputable driving school. Check how many branches they have and if they are Land Transportation Office accredited, etc. Learning from a driving school is better than learning from “Manong” the family driver (who is by chance an ex-jeepney driver) because its curriculum is systematic and updated on the latest technology and laws. And for your fear that your girl will be taken advantage of, insist on bringing a chaperone in the classes or driving sessions. If you have a speed demon on your hands, find a way on how he can unleash this in a safe and in a controlled environment so he can transform back into Bruce Banner.
4. Take advantage of road safety programs.
Road safety programs, which includes defensive driving and basic auto maintenance programs given by either your insurance provider or car manufacturer (Ford, Toyota, etc.) at your village (Ayala Alabang, Alabang Hills, Dasmarinas, etc.) or in the car dealership, are something that you should require before handing the keys to your precious one. These are usually short and well thought out seminars. Some are really geared toward the youth or new drivers. There are some instances that the seminars include hands-on training, which will come in handy during emergency situations.
5. Make the car appropriate for his age/school area.
I am a big proponent of anti–COO (child of owner). I will probably give my son, when he graduates from high school at age 18, a 3- to 4-year-old ex-race turned street car. Giving your son/daughter a spanking, brand-new sports car to bring to Taft Avenue is like dipping your hand in a tank of hungry piranhas expecting they will only look at it. Go deep into possible scenarios; like if your kid studies in the UST or Taft, you might want to consider an SUV because those areas are flood-prone.
6. Teach them about drinking and driving.
Let us talk about the elephant in the room. Kids may start drinking at around 14 or 15; we know this for a fact because we are living examples of it. But instead of being hypocrites about it, let us teach them to be responsible drinkers: ask them if they will be drinking with their friends and lend them a driver for the evening. Lifeline Rescue just launched a drunk dialing hotline (Dial 16911) you can call and they will send you their quick response unit with two drivers (one to drive your car and the other to convoy).
7. Include parking and gasoline as part of their meager allowance.
This will make them think twice about bringing the car and just going around for no reason. After this, talk to them about carbon footprint and the advantages of carpooling or riding with siblings with the family driver. For girls, explain to them how stylish women are always chauffeured-driven, as this adds drama and has the coveted heiress effect. Don’t forget to screen the potential carpool mates.
8. Have a curfew when they drive their own cars to gimmick.
Depending on their age, put a curfew on nights that they drive themselves and when they bring drivers. Add another one to two hours to the time they turn into pumpkins. For daughters, explain the advantage of going down in front of the lobby of the club or bar, instead of walking a few blocks on their 4-inch heels. Be discreet in trying to know the details of the gimmick from drivers. The driver has to look like he is on their side but actually acts as a double agent in your favor.
Your kids need something to spring board their drive that would make them more determined to succeed in life. Driving is a privilege, not a right. If you don’t give them room to work hard for something then don’t be surprised that at the age of 80, you still have an aging bachelor living under your roof.
For comments and suggestions, please e-mail me at email@example.com.
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