Advice Column, Parenting

Hooting Doesn’t Help!

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I find watch people fascinating. I get to do quite a bit of it too driving to my various clients during the week. What I find very sad is how little respect and consideration there is among those using the roads.

People seem to forget that we all need to get to work, we all have to use the same roadway, and we are all frustrated when traffic is bad.

A few months ago, a lady’s car broke down, I could see from a few cars back that she had tried to get out of the traffic, unfortunately the car had stalled crossing the lane, so yes, and both lanes were partially blocked.

Did anyone help? No

People would drive passed shaking their fists at her & hooting. Do they really think it was her intention to stall the car? Did I offer assistance? No, as I reached her, a bus driver stopped his bus and assisted her.

A few weeks later, I am coming off a slip way to get onto the N1. As usual I put on my indicator even before the dotted line so there can be no mistaking my intent even though there really is nowhere else to go. I eventually have to force my way onto N1 as the car behind me literally sits on the bumper of the car in front of it. A few hundred metres later, I apparently commit the cardinal sin by allowing a vehicle off another slip way onto the N1. This person behind me guns it passed me on the yellow line, slams on brakes in front of me & then continues for about the next 100 metres flipping me a variety of signs.

Why am I telling you this?

Every day we experience these types of incidences. Sometimes we are the person hooting or making judicious use of sign language.

The point is, often we have our kids with us or there are kids in other cars around us.

SO what you may say. Well, personally I think it’s a huge problem!

As adults we are very quick to comment on how rude & disrespectful kids are. We complain about how they don’t want to listen to instruction, obey rules or be considerate to those around them.

The irony is we have taught them to be like this.

Every time you cut someone off, curse or hoot at someone, race passed on the yellow line or dash through a red robot or stop street we are teaching our kids exactly what is acceptable.

As parents we have heard many times that it’s not what you say it’s what you do that kids learn.

And this is so very true.

By our daily behaviour as we commute, we teach our kids the following:

  • Rules only apply to others
  • Respect & consideration is only important when we need it
  • Stopping to help is someone else’s job, you’ve got somewhere to be
  • We can speak to whomever we choose however we choose, they’ve got to suck it up

And we wonder why kids are turning out as they are.

Can we change this?

Of course we can.

  • Be mindful of how you act & react.
  • Obey the rules, yes even the one about using cell phones in the car
  • Assist people along the way where you can
  • Practice patience. Instead of thinking about what’s wrong, turn up the radio!

We forget that our kids watch our every move. They need to see that word & deed is exactly the same.

Are you going to slip up? Of course, you are human. When you do, note I say when not if, apologise and reiterate what would have been the better behaviour or better still, ask the kids what you should have done instead.

Yip, as parents we sometimes have to suck it up & show our kids that it’s ok to make mistakes; however, it’s what you do about it that’s important.

We need to shoe our kids that apologising is important, irrespective of the perceived status of the person offended.

Being apparent is one of those roles you take on where you never get to sit back and say “I got this!” there will always be something else that upsets the apple cart. What is important is that our kids see that we keep trying, keep learning, and keep it real.

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