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(ir)responsible Parenting

31 Jan

This has been sitting in my draft folder for a few months.  I wasn’t happy with the way the post read, so it has just been sitting there.  The scenario came up in conversation yet again today so I revisited the draft.  I’m still not sure it conveys what I need/want the post to say; that I support man-child and his decision to keep himself and boy-child safe even if it did mean offending friends, but I figure it was worth posting anyway.

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Recently man-child and boy-child went to a wrestling event in the city with another friend and his son.  Girl-child was at a friends house for the afternoon and when I went to pick her up they had dinner waiting for us as they knew we would be home alone for the night.  Man-child was planning on driving to the wrestling (crappy weather and a super late night with school the following day isn’t conducive to public transport with kids) but I had the car.  I could have dropped the car to him and walked back to get girl-child but figured that as he was going with a friend who has 2 cars then they could go in his car this time.  No hassles, right?  Wrong, very wrong.  The friend had been at a birthday lunch all day and had been drinking so man-child asked if he could drive them and that wasn’t a problem, the made it to the show safely with plenty of time to spare.

When the show ended the friend asked for the keys back to drive home, man-child refused saying that he wasn’t safe to drive.  If he insisted on driving they wouldn’t get in the car with him, that if he (the friend) was going to drive then man-child and boy-child would catch a cab home.  Apparently, from both accounts, things got pretty heated and uncomfortable but the friend relented and let him drive everyone home.  Naturally man-child was pretty pissed that a friend could be so arrogant and stupid to want to drive home when possibly still over 0.05.  As a side issue, the friend kept falling asleep during the show (apparently it wasn’t very entertaining by his account), he has trouble with authority and following laws and rules that he doesn’t agree with and add to this a history of driving when he probably shouldn’t.  I copped the rant when I got home about how some people could be so socially irresponsible by contemplating drinking and driving yet felt comfortable in the knowledge that my man-child wouldn’t allow our children to travel with anyone who has been drinking.  He was concerned about the messages that were being given out to both kids at the time, with one believing that it is OK to take risks and drive when possibly/probably intoxicated and another not willing to compromise at all – which message would be retained by the easily influenced boys?

After talking to boy-child about his evening and how much fun he had, we checked if he was aware of the risks of drink driving and it appears that he still thinks it is not cool to do.  However we could see that his opinion could be influenced simply by talking about the entertainment of the night – he didn’t know if he should be excited by the show like dad or kind of bored by it as the other boy was when he emulated his fathers opinion.  We don’t know what the other child’s view of drink driving is, but we suspect he would be influenced by his father just as boy-child is influenced by his father and this is what we find difficult – this boy is a friend of boy-child and likely to be someone that will get a car at the earliest opportunity and take unnecessary driving risks.

I really shouldn’t try to for-see so far into the future as the friend has just dropped by to let me know ‘his side of the story’.  He claims that he didn’t have too much to drink, perhaps he was over the limit at the start of the evening but not at the end so he should have been fine to drive.  He believes that no person has the right to not allow him to drive his car in any circumstances.  He agrees that you can provide your opinion on whether a person is safe to drive but not actually prevent them from doing so.  He doesn’t understand that a friend would actually want to keep another friend safe and not want them to hurt themselves or another person by their actions.  He doesn’t understand that even if man-child had taken boy-child home in a cab that he would still feel responsible if anything had happened to him and his son on the way home, believing that you can’t be responsible for another person’s actions.  He also didn’t get that the concern not just about his level of intoxication but about his fatigue after falling asleep a number of times during the show.

Essentially the friend doesn’t get that a person can feel responsible for their own in-action that then may cause trouble for others.  I would never allow my children to travel with someone unsafe to drive and am proud that man-child has the strength to ensure that doesn’t happen either.  I hope that I would be as strong as man-child in his convictions about not letting a friend drive also.  I hate that perhaps I could be that person, the person who doesn’t have the strength to prevent another person from doing something dangerous and illegal.  I would never allow my family to get into the car, but would I stop anyone else?  I just don’t know.   I hate that I am such a non-committal person and try not to get into other peoples arguements and issues.  I did say that I supported man-child and his actions but I don’t think I said it with the conviction that I believe.

I am sure that the moment wasn’t handled with tact – 2 very strong egos competing and not wanting to lose face but essentially it should come down to doing what is safe for all involved.  If there is a chance, even a small chance that a person isn’t fit to drive, then they shouldn’t drive.  Unfortunately the incident seems to have tainted the relationship with the two families.  We don’t have the same pop-in just for a chat rate that we had a few months ago.  I don’t know if it a direct result of the ego clashing or if it is simply the cold Melbourne weather.  I am hoping that it is the weather but afraid that it may not be, I guess only time will tell.

Well months later, time is telling.  The boys are still friends and have spent many days together during the holidays, as for the grownups that is another story entirely.  The men folk have a very strained relationship, not only that, his wife seems to be annoyed at both men and I am an outsider because I don’t drink these days so I just can’t possibly understand.

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4 Comments

Posted by on January 31, 2011 in things that make you go grrr

 

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4 responses to “(ir)responsible Parenting

  1. FFG

    February 1, 2011 at 3:47 am

    As an ex-wife of an alcoholic, I have to say that man-child was noble & absolutely right even if it has put a strain on the relationship. I am sure it was difficult, but it was the right message to send to the kids and to his friend. I just hope that the friend and his family will realize that he did the right thing and that it doesn’t take a horrible accident for them to learn this sad lesson.

    I also understand your point about it being tough to create waves in those types of situations. I also wish that it was easier for me not to do the polite thing.

     
  2. Leiani

    February 1, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    Some things are black and white – if there is a chance it’s unsafe you DONT drive. But other things are much more grey – how to handle the situation best, and relationships with friends. You husband should be proud that he did the right thing and kept everyone safe, even if it cost a friendship. Better than the friendship having ended via a horrible accident.

     
  3. bigwords

    February 3, 2011 at 8:01 pm

    Man-child was right. NO one should put other’s at risk.

    Trying to swing by and follow/meet new blogs before the AusBlogCon. Pop by bigwords if you get a chance x

     
  4. Mari

    February 5, 2011 at 4:21 am

    Wow. I don’t know if I would’ve been able to stop him from driving either. I am extremely non-commital. I’m working on changing that!

     

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