A few years back I had two young girls in my office talking about how afraid they were to ride with their dad in the car. The reason? Not because of driving impaired, or issues with road rage. Nope, simply because he was texting while driving, and not doing both well. Now I had a dilemma on hand. I am a mandatory reporter- that means by law I have to report to authorities any act of abuse or neglect. And the fun piece is I don’t have to decide if the behavior is abusive, I just have to report it and let the authorities decide. Remember, I have two kids reporting they are being put in harm’s way by what could be considered neglectful or abusive parenting because serious harm could occur. So I call Human Services and ask a question: “Am I required to report driving hazards of a parent as a mandatory reporter?” The response, “Ummm, I don’t know, that’s a good question.” So they ask around but no one knows, and they refer me to the local police department. Same question, pretty much the same response, accept the officer said “as a law officer I cannot ticket a driver for dangerous driving unless I directly observe it.” So even if the parent is making the risky choice of texting while their vehicle is moving, and the children in the car are scared because they feel it is affecting the driver in a dangerous manner- it at this point is not considered child abuse or neglect. My response: we better figure this out before someone innocent dies!
As you see I correlate this with my last blog, because both are entitled Cellular Parenting- both a problem with priorities. Really, what is the most important part of having children? We need to decide that on an individual basis, weighing in on the long term outcomes of those choices. Making our phones more important than our kids = possible attachment disorders. Making our phones more important than our safety = possible death. Or on a smaller scale- displaying behaviors that our kids will later imitate and maybe not manage as well as an adult…oops, possible death again. What is your goal as a parent? It’s sort of like a business plan- decide it and live by it. If it is to raise healthy adults that are independent by 18, then live that way. Pretty simple, but true. Someone is always watching and may end up becoming just like you, so be careful, or at least mindful, of your choices.