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Real Answers™
Copyright: © 2007 Gary Hardaway
635 words


By: Gary Hardaway

A few months ago, during morning rush hour, two local high school kids peeled out of their high school parking lot, and, seconds later, turned onto one of the busiest arteries in the area. In a flash they were racing through heavy traffic at horrific speeds. Dodging and weaving, they miraculously covered four miles before the inevitable crash.

The leading car plowed into a pickup truck turning left into a shopping center, instantly killing a male passenger in the pickup. The seventeen year-old drag racer’s car flipped three or four times and burst into flames. He spent the next six months in the hospital burn unit and is now awaiting trial for vehicular homicide.

The other kid, also seventeen, fled the scene, but later decided to come forward. People at the high school could easily identify both drivers.

Police compiled a chilling array of facts and evidence. Tests indicated that the first car was traveling 94 miles per hour when it hit the pickup. Witnesses along the thoroughfare estimated that both cars were doing 90 or more. Records showed that the second boy had already been arrested a couple of times for speeding. Peers told police that both drivers habitually raced around the vicinity of the school. Some described the crash perpetrator as a bully.

School authorities admitted that the second kid was constantly in trouble for disrupting class and disregarding school rules. His parents seemed helpless or unwilling to discipline him. In fact, they had bought him his late model Acura. The court is now considering whether or not to charge the boy as an adult. His parents have testified that he is immature, not capable of consistently making responsible decisions.

If I were the judge I would ask, “Oh really? In that case, knowing that your son was irresponsible, why did you provide him with a car? Why didn’t you take the car away when he got his first speeding ticket? Why didn’t you ground him when you learned of his unruly, disrespectful behavior at school? Did you not realize that your son was probably going to kill somebody, possibly himself?”  

Every sixteen year-old kid wants to get a driver’s license. Who can blame them? It’s a ticket to freedom, adventure, fun, dating, and a new sense of self-respect – or maybe self-importance. But none of that is relevant UNLESS that teenager thinks more like a forty-year-old than a high school kid. Parents must see plenty of evidence that their would-be driver is careful, wise, considerate, and responsible – mature beyond his or her years.

I speak as a former kid. My folks made me wait until after I was seventeen to get my license. It seemed so unfair. I did fairly well in school. At fifteen I passed driver’s ed, was active in our church, and was considered a pretty good kid. But my parents weren’t convinced that I had the kind of good judgment necessary for navigating in San Francisco Bay Area traffic.

They were probably right.

Parents, especially us dads, must learn to say “No, not yet,” when it’s really tough. When we understand how much our teens want to hear our “Yes.” Even when they will wrongly interpret our “No,” as personal rejection and a grievous wound.

Once upon a time fathers would say things like, “Pay attention and grow wise for I am giving you good guidance. Don’t turn away from my teaching, for I too was once my father’s son . . . My father told me ‘Take my words to heart. Follow my instructions and you will live. Learn to be wise and develop good judgment.’” *

Hmm … “Follow my instructions and you will live.” Sometimes parental action means the difference between life and death.

* [Proverbs 4:1-5, Living Bible]  

Gary Hardaway is executive director of Summit School of Ministry in Northwest Washington. He holds a Ph. D in foundations of education and is a member of the National Association of Scholars.  He has taught in universities in the USA, Lithuania and Canada. He holds a Ph. D. in foundations of education. "Real Answers™" furnished courtesy of The Amy Foundation Internet Syndicate. To contact the author or The Amy Foundation, write or E-mail to: P. O. Box 16091, Lansing, MI 48901-6091;

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