I believe in raising my teenagers to obey the law, all the laws, even the inconvenient ones. My belief has been tested several times since my sixteen-year old twins became licensed drivers in November of 2012. We live in Connecticut where the teenage driving laws are among the toughest in the nation. A teenager under the age of eighteen must have their license for six months before driving with any siblings in the car. They must have their license an entire year before driving with other teenagers in the car. So when my twin son and daughter obtained their license, they were not allowed to be in the car when the other was driving. This was inconvenient as there was only one family car for them to drive. They had to take turns each week. One of them drove to school, the other stood scowling, arms crossed, waiting for the school bus. “You’re the only mom who cares about this stupid law”
My belief was tested almost daily that winter. My son’s ice hockey practice and my daughter’s basketball practice ended at 7:00PM every night. One drove home, the other waited at the school for me to pick them up. This inconvenience led me to fantasize about letting them break the law. “It is only four miles from the school to our house, think of the gas it will save, it will be okay, just this once”, but deep down I knew it wouldn’t be “just this once”, it would be the start of something bigger. So I put on my coat and went out into the frigid night only to be chastised by the waiting teen “this is so ridiculous mom, you are seriously the only one who cares about this law”.
Recently, my twins asked if they could drive “just this once” with their dates to the junior prom. When I reminded them that this was illegal and therefore “NO”, they once again argued that I was the only one who cared about the “stupid driving laws”. The teenage battle they waged for the next few hours was relentless. My daughter cried, pleaded and slammed her bedroom door. “You are unbelievable” my son said, his quiet anger filled me with self-doubt. Their final attempt to wear me down was the silent treatment.
It was in those hours of silence that I realized my children were right. “I do care”. I care about their safety and I care about the law, but what I really care about is aligning my actions with my belief. Permission for “just this once” would be a crack in the delicate framework of rules and consequences. My twins did not ride with their dates to the junior prom because I believe that the law applies to everyone and I believe in raising my teenagers to obey the law.