The Fast and the Furious

A police investigation into a video posted online showing a 7 year-old child driving the family car at a relatively high rate of speed down a country road while daddy films from the passenger seat and offers encouragement is a stark example of the recklessness and irresponsibility of contemporary parenting. The fact that this kind of thing happens all the time, without the video evidence, is an argument in favour of licensing breeding rights.

I am not a kid person.

I’m pretty sure that the above revelation will shock and astonish, and I apologize for any undue mental anguish that creating this cognitive dissonance might have caused.

I am fully willing to concede that children are the products of their parents, and that a child behaving in a manner that I find annoying is merely mirroring behaviour taught to them or condoned by their parents. I’m sure that I was a pain in the ass when I was a child, but, since I have both grown out of it and have the benefit of living in selfish oblivion of how my behaviour is perceived outside myself, I don’t see how my childhood is relevant in the least. The fact of the matter is, the things I am seeing children getting away with today are things that would have resulted in an abrupt end to my growing out of anything, other than a shallow grave in the backyard, when I was a child.

Certainly, parents are to blame for how their children behave. All of the sopping twits who swore “I’ll never treat my kids the way you treated me,” who have promptly adopted all the child-development psycho-babble techniques of reasoning and negotiating and treating their kids like little adults, have contributed to a quivering mass of disrespectful, arrogant children who care little for authority and believe that getting their own way is a given right. After all, why discipline a child? Isn’t it better to have a conversation with an unruly youngster and explain the reasons why the child should understand that behaviour “x” is inappropriate for situation “y,” rather than simply to say it is wrong and enforce the rule of law? How often has that worked for you, really?

I’ve seen the product of reasoning and negotiating. Frankly, if you’re expecting your child to be capable of this kind of rational thought, you’re overestimating their maturity and ability to reason and underestimating the value of simple authority. If a kid is acting up or lashing out, sitting him/her down and having a talk about whether they think it is right or wrong to behave in such a manner, hopefully leading them to draw their own conclusion that they shouldn’t be doing such a thing in the first place, is a pointless exercise in trying to satisfy your own unreasonable expectations. Young children need the structure and certainty of a certain amount of firm authority in order to understand right and wrong, not discussions on moral philosophy. If a child were capable of that level of maturity and thought, I don’t see why we wait until 18 to let them vote.

It’s the overestimation of that maturity that leads parents to do stupid things like the father filming his son driving the family car. Why parents allow their young children to do things like this I can’t begin to understand. This goes along with any motorized vehicle. I don’t think it’s any better, and in fact it may be worse, that more and more parents think it’s “cool” to give their kids dirt bikes and ATVs. Putting a child in command of any motorized vehicle is trusting that the child has the maturity to treat the vehicle in question with the respect it deserves as something that can cause an incredible amount of damage, injury and death. I haven’t met a 6 year-old yet who has enough of a grasp on cause and effect and its relation to right and wrong that they can puzzle this particular situation out enough to overcome “it’s cool and it goes fast.”

The fact is, many of these kids are interested in these vehicles because they learn to find them interesting from their parents. A kid growing up to a father or mother who likes ATVs will likely be interested in ATVs. Same with cars, motorcycles, dirt bikes, dune buggies and go-karts. Buying little Johnny a dirt bike is as much a parent impressing their own interests and hobbies on a malleable child as it is support of the child’s own interests, if not moreso. I guess the question should be whether it’s more important for a parent to support their own hobby by imparting interest in it to their child, or whether it’s the chance for the child to grow up and make their own choices.

Litmus test: if the parents are expressing more excitement and joy at buying the vehicle for the child than the child is in receiving it, it’s being done for all the wrong reasons and will probably be executed in an irresponsible way.

The problem is that most of us, as adults, have enough respect for our hobbies to understand how dangerous they can be. We won’t do incredibly stupid things because we know that pain and devestation can follow. In short, we are under the authority of fear of pain, and we respect that authority. We know all about mortality, and generally endeavour to extend it.

That kid you rely on greatly to reason themselves to their own conclusions will only reason their way to this same conclusion should they experience pain themselves, at which point it’s a little too late for the lesson to matter.

This isn’t universal. Some kids are going to be responsible. Some parents will be responsible as well. And, I’m not saying that no child should ever be put on a dirt bike or ATV. I am saying that the only time that it should be allowed is with proper training and instruction, and proper supervision. Otherwise, it’s a recipe for disaster, as the many headlines each season announcing the death of a young child on a dirt bike or ATV will attest.

The problem is, responsibility in either party, as discussed earlier, isn’t something anyone can assume will be present. If you can’t control your child when they’re in the mall, do you really think putting an engine and wheels under their ass is going to make it any easier? The same parents who have kids that act out and blow up and storm around and ignore their parents in other situations are likely to have a child who treats a motorized vehicle the same way. And, for any society to expect that these same parents are going to be responsible enough to ensure that their child has proper training and supervision on the use of said vehicle is plainly moronic.

Kids are not little adults, and should never be given command of a motorized vehicle until the child, and probably the parent, is given proper instruction and training on the use of the vehicle. It would be nice to be able to say we can rely on all parents to invest in the proper training along with the much greater expense of the vehicle itself, but I don’t think any intelligent person can rely on the responsibility of today’s parents. Until such time as we can, I think it should be legislated. If these little brats truly are the future, and as important as everyone makes children out to be, maybe we should be protecting them, and disciplining them, appropriately.

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[…] Deep CortexAdd commentsDaily Dispatch On August 4th of last year, almost exactly one year ago, I wrote about the irresponsibility of parents allowing their children to drive cars, dirt bikes, ATVs and […]

The Fast and The Furious – Redux |
July 28th, 2010 at 6:31 pm

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