Over the past several months my wife and I have been teaching our 15-year-old daughter to drive a car in preparation for her drivers license test. I might flatter myself into thinking this is old hat for me after teaching her older brothers to drive. But what I have painfully discovered is that I have become lazy in my adherence to many of the basic driving rules. As my daughter so quickly points out, I often fail to signal; I exceed speed limits; I fail to come to a complete stop at deserted intersections; I frequently drive with only one hand on the steering wheel; and I don't always look over my shoulder when changing lanes.
My actions could be passed off as minor infractions that don't really apply to me as an experienced adult, but that would be a gross lie. The truth is, any one of these safe-driving rules could save my life, and more sobering, the lives of my family. My diligence in obeying the rules of the road are indeed a matter of life and death that should never be treated casually. Thanks to my daughter, I am working at being a better driver.
As parents and grandparents, we must not forget the power of our examples.
Unfortunately, we sometimes become hypocrites in serious matters that could lead to disastrous results.
Perhaps one of the most dangerous behaviors displayed in front of our children is careless, irresponsible drinking during holidays like New Year's Eve.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving reported that one person dies every half hour in the U.S. due to alcohol-related traffic accidents. Of the more than 42,000 accidents reported in 2003, 40 percent involved alcohol. More than 1,700 of these accidents occurred on holidays like New Year's Eve.
Here in Arizona, 470 people were killed last year in alcohol-related deaths.
Every New Year's Eve countless adults set out for an evening of drinking alcohol and, in essence, tell our children: "This is how you have a good time -- by drinking yourself stupid."
It's no wonder so many of our children in middle and high schools so readily accept alcohol at parties and behind their parents' backs. Their mothers and fathers may be telling them about the dangers of alcohol, but too many are showing them something completely different.
I think it's a shame that we preach to our children about underage drinking, when in fact there are many adults who cannot control themselves, and place innocent children and adults at risk through of their irresponsible behavior.
I will never forget being called to the hospital to visit a little girl who was tucked in her bed fast asleep when a drunk driver ran his car through the side of her house.
This year I respectfully issue a challenge to anyone -- parents, teachers or grandparents -- who have children who look up to them. Celebrate New Year's Eve without alcohol. Show our children that you do not need a controlled substance to have fun or enjoy a holiday with friends and family.
Your example is the most powerful lesson you will ever teach them.