NORMAN — Q: My son is a recent recipient of a driver’s license. We took your earlier advice about enjoying the freedom it gave us, and it has, but he is so enamored with his new ability to drive that it seems that’s all he wants to do.
He wants to drive just to be driving. Can you give some hints as to how to curtail this activity?
— Paul, Oklahoma City
Of course he’s driving just to be driving … as we all did at that time in our lives. Realize that it’s not too late to set guidelines, but they need to be set as soon as possible.
Ask yourself who’s paying for the gas, the insurance and who’s car it is. Remember … you are the parent.
You have the utmost control over the car’s usage. If he’s dying to go for a drive, make it about an errand for you. He can go get toilet paper, take a sibling to an activity or pick up the dry cleaning. Let him do the things that need to be done but you don’t enjoy.
This shows you trust him and that he’s a big help to you.
If guidelines need to be set, we suggest these:
1. Allow a certain amount of money per week for gas. When it’s gone, it’s gone.
2. Mileage is to be checked weekly. This keeps kids from taking “unnecessary” road trips. You can figure out approximately how many miles per week he should be driving.
3. The different cities usually set curfews for new drivers, so he shouldn’t be out past a certain time.
4. He shouldn’t be the carpool driver for all of his friends who don’t have licenses.
Finally, if it’s your car, your gas money and your insurance money, take the keys if he can’t abide by the rules — which he should be made fully aware of ahead of time.
Q: A family member my kids were very fond of recently committed suicide. We are all saddened and shocked and need to know how much information to give our kids.
— Tammy, Norman
We are so sorry for your tragic loss.
Although all families are different, our training has taught us that honesty is always the best policy. Details are not necessary unless specific questions are asked.
We all struggle to understand suicide, and explaining it to a child is next to impossible.
The reassurance that your family member loved your kids and helping them to remember the good times will hopefully soothe them and ease their pain.
Try to carry on with regular activities, and keep things as normal as possible.
Reassure them with your love and the knowledge that you are there for them.
Sally Phillips and Jeannie DeLancey are certified school counselors with 49 years combined educational experience. Jeannie has two children and Sally has three. The responses presented don’t necessarily reflect the views of any certain school district. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail them to Class Act, The Norman Transcript, P.O. Drawer 1058, Norman, 73070.