I Know I Shouldn't Do This in Front of My Kids -- but I Can't Stop

mom driving kids

As parents, we always want to set a good example for our children. But some behaviors are easier to model than others. For example, I say "please" and "thank you" and rarely chew with my mouth open. But there's one terrible habit I'm finding it hard to break and I need to fix it ASAP: I've been texting while driving.


Well, not exactly while actively driving, but at stop signs and red lights, which is just as bad. Most often I'm not actually typing, I'm speaking into the microphone and then handing the phone off to whoever is riding shotgun -- usually one of my kids -- to proofread. We all know how that feature can misunderstand even the clearest speaker, and autocorrect can have its way with us. Yet as bad and potentially embarrassing as those garbled messages might be, they're not nearly as dangerous as the practice itself, and the example I'm setting is even worse.

When you read the alarming statistic that 41 percent of driving teens in the US reported they had texted or emailed while driving, it sounds shocking until you think: Where are they learning it? From us! 

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Basically, I'm teaching my children that distracted driving is the norm and that's not okay. But it seems I'm not alone.

According to a recent survey taken by Liberty Mutual Insurance, 55 percent of parents admit that they use apps while driving, even though nearly a third of teens have asked them to stop. Even more concerning, 68 percent of teens admit they also use apps while driving. Seriously, how can we expect them to stop if we won't?

Parents feel pulled in a million directions, and they're often shuffling one kid to a destination and then picking up another from a different location. It's easy and convenient to text and let them know you're on your way. Or maybe they're alerting you that they're running late. And let's not forget how helpful those navigation systems are. Even if you try to be responsible and not use your phone, sometimes you're lost -- literally -- without it.  

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But that still doesn't make it right or even remotely okay. Especially with my teen just a year away from getting behind the wheel himself (eek!), it's never been more important for me to lead by example, put that phone in my purse, and show him that calls and texts are never more important than keeping your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel. 

Texting and navigating aren't the only pitfalls. Though it feels like we rarely use our phones simply to talk anymore, the survey found that 62 percent of parents check incoming calls and/or talk while driving. They admit to either holding the phone or using headphones or hands-free speakers. Seventy-five percent of teens said they've witnessed their parents doing this, and 50 percent have asked them to stop.

I know my own kids have called me out on it and I definitely feel ashamed and immediately apologize and tell them, "You're right. It's the wrong thing to do. Please don't ever do it when you drive." 

But if I want them to do what I say, then I have to prove that I'm willing to do it too. As tempting as it is to keep up with all our contacts, it's definitely not more important than keeping our kids safe.

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