Driving Us Crazy

12 Nov

Letterbalm Car KeysDear LetterBalm: My wife and I are tearing our hair out. We have two teenage sons, age 17 and 18. (Yeah, I know we should have had our heads examined having two kids so close in age, but hey.) Both of them have their driver’s license, and they are responsible drivers. But they go at it arguing about who gets the family car. We definitely won’t be buying a second car in the near future. What can we say to them to shut down the fights before my wife and I lock them in a soundproof room?

–Going Deaf

This one’s a no-brainer. You and your wife hold all the keys to the car and dispense them only when your teenagers act like adults. This means best behavior, mature decision-making and grownup attitude. Ms. L.B. regards driving as a serious responsibility, so they should act accordingly and deserve the privilege. Hold a family meeting and shut down the squabbling. Set some rules of the road:

Nathan and Richard, your mother and I have called this family meeting to clear up the matter of the car. Since we aren’t about to buy another one, you two must share it. And, the fighting over it will stop right now. Here are the ground rules, starting today: You mother and I expect the two of you to negotiate and compromise as to who uses the car, when and why. You must work it out respectfully between yourselves. No yelling and no complaining to us. You must act like adults because driving is a privilege, not a right. It’s a serious responsibility, and we expect you to be mature about this. If you can’t, then neither of you will be able to drive the car, and we don’t give you the keys. Can you do this?

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