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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

A snake that eats its tail


The generation of child rearing between my children and my grandchildren is a mental chasm. I have little sympathy for the child centricity of the current generation of parents with teenagers. Emily did surprise me; when I remarked her crowd might not know how to raise children, given the permissiveness of their parents she rejoined she might not either; she was raised in a mother-centric home. Good call on her part, being raised to coddle and humor her mother on all things.

The whole conversation started when Emily asked about getting a learner’s driving permit. In Ohio one gets behind the wheel only with proof of insurance. She did not know that. In Ohio there are few circumstances that permit a teenager to drive another teenager. She did not understand that, although she is completely aware of Grandma’s Law: Teenagers do not drive other teenagers. It may embarrass her, but the parents of her teenage driving friends (and boyfriend) say they respect Grandma’s Law, although they must chauffeur a child with a license.

The question arose as I drove her to a meeting of the band’s flute squads. I explained a car was rather like the snake eating its tail. She could work to maintain a car to drive to work to earn enough to maintain a car. This family is not affluent enough to maintain a car for the pleasure of a child, and it certainly is not in her birth certificate! (My children should have a nickel for every time they heard that!) How many teenagers have cars to drive, I asked. After some thought, she opined the majority.  “There are not enough streets in Cleveland to hold a car for every poor child who lives there,” I said, and dropped her off.

I did my research before I picked her up again. A bare majority of Ohio teenagers hold driver’s licenses, and the age of getting one is rising, due both to the Great Recession and to the escalating age requirement in Ohio. In fact, it may soon be 18 years of age to begin the learner’s permit process.

On the way home we discussed the immature frontal cortex that causes more teenagers to kill themselves in auto accidents than her grandmother’s doddering age group, in spite of the fact our generation still outnumbers theirs. She gave me that point, whether she believes it or not. I said fewer teens than more currently seem to want to drive in Ohio, in spite of the fact the majority of her teen friends in child-centric households have cars. It is a phenomenon of a pocket of affluence, but she hasn't enough experience to understand it.

I also said I’d be quite grateful if the law raised the age to 18 before I have to deal with it. “Oh, for Laura,” she asked. “No, for you.”

Smart young girl that she is, I remarked I was surprised she hadn't done her research first. No answer. Do you suppose it might be that her computer shuts off at three hours of use in twenty four, and she’s still working on an English paper.


Three teens of legal age; no driver's licenses in their wallets.

24 comments:

  1. A friend once said you have to give them just enough rope that they don't hang themselves but not so much that they find another way to ruin their life.

    So far it sounds like Grandma is pretty good at riding that wave.

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  2. I would not worry about them not having a driver's license as yet. There is plenty of time for them to drive. Personally I think that eighteen is much better than sixteen.

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  3. I agree with Munir, Joanne, I think sixteen is young for driving, especially the way they like to speed!

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  4. And, which is possibly sexist, I would prefer that young men had their licence eligibility delayed for another few years.

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  5. Nowadays it seems kids aren't maturing until their 30's.....I have one pushing 40 and we're still waiting. I'm not at all sure it has anything to do with 'childcentric' families. We expected standards and behaviour but we still raised a ninny.

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  6. I didn't learn to drive until I was thirty. I was so afraid of being in control of something that could kill (weapons training in the Navy doesn't prepare you for driving!).
    Jane x

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    1. I also failed to get that teenage sense of invincibility, and didn't learn to drive until my mid 20s, when I moved to an area that didn't have sufficient public transportation (and I had a kid, so home -> daycare -> work -> daycare -> grocery store -> home would have been pretty challenging without a car).

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  7. I think grandma is right. But of course I am of grandma's generation.

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  8. My children could not get a drivers license until they could afford their insurance. Now, my daughter, who has a 15 year old daughter, tells her the same thing.

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  9. My nephew is now of legal age to drive and I can't begin to tell you how many accidents he's been in. Thank goodness it's mostly not involved another car. His insurance is NUTS now and the expense of constantly fixing the car is horrible.

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  10. Hari OM
    Definitely too young - and yet I also know that some youths who didn't get their licence till their 20s, still went 'ape'... seems there is an element of having to test the limits even then... I liked your analogy!! YAM xx

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  11. You are a crafty, clever grandma and have proven just from this post alone that you are highly equipped to handle the raising of today's kids.

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  12. In Michigan it is 14 and 9 months. I was a wreck.

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  13. Montana you could get a permit at 14-1/2, license at 15 years. They could care less how many kids in the car (provided enough seat belts for all). We moved to Southern California son's senior year. License was at 16 and for the first year you could not drive having anyone else in the car unless it was your younger sibling you were taking to school, etc. Kids got around that rule by riding in trunks to their destination. Son went to an upper class high school to finish his senior year. He had a Suzuki Sidekick. The majority of cars in the student parking lot were Lexus, Mercedes, BMWs. I kid you not. The teachers joked the kids drove better cars than they did.

    I think you had a great conversation with them about driving. There is a lot of responsibility and expense with it. I do like your rule with teens not driving other teens around.

    betty

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  14. I think starting to drive at 18 is fine. Teens shouldn't drive teens. I know because I drove my friends around when I was in high school. I did some stupid stuff and I'm grateful that no harm came to anyone. The Hurricane has friends who have two young boys. She says that the younger of the two behaves horribly and walks all over his parents. She told me she does not put up with his nonsense. My kids are the kind of people who should have children, but I don't know if they will.

    Love,
    Janie

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  15. It is good to drive after 18 so that they will come to know about the traffic rules. They will be matured and will be brave enough to drive the vehicle!

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  16. I've always been astounded at how young teens in the USA can get their licence !

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  17. My daughter got her licence at 18, after driving school, and has always had to pay for insurance, upkeep, etc... It's amazing how much more responsible they are when it's their dime!

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  18. I've long thought that the legal driving age is too young and I agree that teenagers should not be driving other teenagers at least until they themselves have been driving for a year without mishap.

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  19. This comes on the heels of a 15 year old who died after running off the road here, alone in her car. My neighbor has a 14 year old who's getting their learner's permint by taking drivers ed. The parking lot of the high school is packed with every manner of truck and car (the student area, not the teacher's).
    In their slight defense it's a rural area, little in the way of public transportation.
    My experience growing up in a small town had cars as a big part of it; I had my licence at 16 and was driving before I was 15, pretty normal for the place and times. But we didn't have iphones to text on, instead we had a carload of friends to distract us or make us want to impress them with speed or stupidity.

    It's kind of an example of how times change, and we need to change with them. Now there are faster cars, more distractions, and so we make logical changes to laws and our actions. Unless of course we're talking about the 2nd amendment.......

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  20. I have a whole rant on the subject of teens and cars. In this extremely overprivileged neighborhood we've recently moved to, the local high school parking lot is jam packed with BMWs and other luxury vehicles driven by TEENS who recklessly drive their fancy cars way too fast. It makes me physically ill on so many fronts. The thought of how many mouths the cost of those teenage toys could feed. The me-centric culture it creates. The entitlement, the privilege, it's all so icky!!! I'm struggling with how to filter it for my kids and I like your approach.

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  21. Oh, I like the 18 age for new drivers -- hope it becomes universal.

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  22. I was 18 before I was allowed to get my license. Then again I grew up in France so that changes things. :)

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  23. I think we ought to swap the ages for a number of coming-of-age milestones. I have teenagers, and I'd love to see 16 for voting, 19 for drinking, and 20-21 for driving and military service.

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