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.