Category Archives for "parenting"

Can Johnny Come Out And Play?


I remember coming home from school when I was a kid.  I threw my book bag on the floor, and I briefly recapped my day at school with my Mom while I ate a quick afternoon snack.  Then I rushed out the door to meet my friends somewhere in the neighborhood.

We played hockey in the cul-de-sac.  We raced our bicycles around the block.  Or we met in the woods for an imaginary game of war.  Our playtime was not structured by a coach, parent, or schedule.  Instead, we talked at school or on the bus ride home about plans for getting together as soon as we arrived home.

Where ever we ended up in and around the neighborhood, a parent wasn’t too far away to help us out if we found ourselves hurt or in trouble.  The other mothers in the community were empowered to reprimand us if necessary.  My parents were still my parents, but I was definitely raised by a village of other parents spread throughout the neighborhood.  And this is how it was for the kids in my neighborhood.

Fast forward twenty to thirty years and things have changed dramatically.  I am a parent of two teenagers, and they are growing up in a world drastically different from my own.  In today’s fast-paced American culture, either both parents are working, or children are being raised by single parents.

Our kids have schedules that match the busy demands of a society which tells us our children have to be star athletes, academic wizards, and well-rounded individuals.  No longer do kids have the freedom to experience unstructured play in and around their neighborhoods.  Instead, they are coached, taught, and directed by adults.  Each activity is structured in an effort to produce superhuman kids and to provide child-care while parents work (or recover from work).

And when kids aren’t busy in structured play, their iPads and other electronic devices become babysitters and places to escape the pressures of interacting with others.  Kids hardly know how to answer the phone or interact face-to-face anymore.

In the neighborhoods in my area, every garage door is controlled automatically from a button in the car.  People come home from a busy day of work.  They open their garage doors and drive in.  Before they get out of the car, the garage door is on its way down again.  When they aren’t busy running from one activity to another, families are closed in their homes with minimal interaction with their neighbors next door.

What impact is this having on our kids and on the future of human interaction?

The high-speed online world we live on is having an impact on the healthy rhythms of daily life.

Is there an easy solution to this?  I’m not so sure.  I am just as guilty as anyone else who has been captured by technology and the lure of making the great American dollar.  Perhaps, the solution lies in regularly examining our priorities and learning to say no to a few of the things that disrupt the types of interaction we were meant to have.

Why is unstructured play so important?

Unstructured play provides an opportunity for our kids to use and expand their imaginations.  It teaches them to resolve conflict themselves.  And it teaches them independence.

Unstructured play is enhanced when communities join together to encourage free play and less busy schedules.

Is it practical to re-inject unstructured play back into our society?  Probably not, but it is possible if families individually decide to resist the urge to schedule every single minute of our kids’ days.  Here are five practical ways to inject unstructured play back into your kids routines:

  1. Intentionally leave at least one afternoon or one night free on your calendar. Encourage your child to plan this time.
  2. Invite other kids over to your house to play with your child. Have a snack available (kids love food), and let the kids figure out what to do from there.
  3. Spend time in your neighborhood, outside your house. As the weather warms up, get outside and make yourself and your kids available to your neighbors.  At first, this may seem strange to your house-bound neighbors, but their curiosity will most likely eventually get the best of them as they emerge from their homes to the world outside.
  4. Talk to other parents in your neighborhood about unstructured play. This type of dialogue will invite others into your efforts.
  5. Encourage your kids to go outside. They will not die if you limit their technology time.  And a little fresh air will actually benefit them in the long run.

Do you think it’s important for our children to have time for unstructured play?  Why or why not?  What suggestions do you have for encouraging our kids to pursue unstructured play?

(My article, Can Johnny Come Out And Play?, originally appeared at The Good Men Project.)

Preparing Kids For The Future


There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One of these is roots, the other, wings.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

I’m the softy.

When it comes to parenting our children, I tend to be lenient.  Thankfully, Leanne helps to balance our parenting.  This isn’t meant to say she’s mean or overbearing.  It’s just an observation on how we’ve had to navigate our parenting journey together.  Ultimately, we want what is best for our children.

We don’t want them to experience pain, but there are times when pain can actually help our children for the future.

This was a milestone weekend for us.  On Friday, Hannah, our oldest, turned 18.  (How did that happen so fast?)

She had big plans to celebrate her birthday by heading to the Poconos on a retreat with our church’s high school youth group.  Hannah typically works Friday and Saturday nights, but she can take off if she provides enough notice to her scheduling manager.  Unfortunately, she didn’t give notice, and she couldn’t find anyone to substitute for her on either of these nights.

Hannah talked to us about working on Friday night, and missing work on Saturday night so she could go on the retreat Saturday and Sunday.  Leanne and I really wanted her to go, but we knew it wasn’t responsible or fair to her co-workers to simply not show up for work.

Through a tough conversation and some tears, Hannah came to the same conclusion.  It was hard for her to miss out on the retreat especially on her birthday weekend, but she ended up learning some valuable lessons as a result of the experience.

As we parent, it is not our job to be best friends with our kids.  And it’s not even our job to make life easy for our kids.  We must be diligent in preparing them for the future.  Some times that means difficult decisions, and it always means grace.

What tips do you have for preparing your kids for the future?  What did your parents do to help you prepare for adulthood?

Stretch Quote – Parenting (@DrTempleGrandin)

stretch parenting quote

I think sometimes parents and teachers fail to STRETCH kids. My mother had a very good sense of how to STRETCH me just slightly outside my comfort zone.

Temple Grandin

As I think about this week’s STRETCH quote, I’m thankful for my parents.  Both my Mom and Dad have STRETCHED me to become a better person.  My Stretch nickname may have come from friends when I was going through my growth spurt late in high school, but I think the real stretching happened as a result of my parents encouragement, discipline, and accountability.

Thank you, Mom and Dad!

How did your parents STRETCH you outside your comfort zone?  What are you doing to STRETCH your own children?

How To Explain Death To Your Children


Parenting isn’t easy.

It’s especially challenging when you have to explain death to your children.

Sunday morning, we received the unexpected news that one of Leanne’s good high school friends had passed away following her battle with breast cancer.  Tuesday afternoon, we drove to Latrobe, PA for the viewing, and we drove home Wednesday afternoon after the funeral service and some time with friends.

Leanne’s friend was only 41 years old, and she left behind her husband and three elementary aged children.

It seems like such a young ago to die.

As we were leaving the viewing on Tuesday evening, we ran into some old friends.  As we stood outside the funeral home catching up, someone asked “If you were her husband, how would you explain this death to your kids?”

Leanne and I talked about this question later on, and here are some of my thoughts:

Death stinks, and it doesn’t seem to make sense that life would end so early for such a nice person.

Losing your mother doesn’t at all seem fair.  And cancer sucks.

The reality is we are all going to die some day.  We don’t know when it will be.  We hope for a long and fulfilling life, but sometimes things happen which lead to a shorter life than we expected for us or for our loved ones.

Since we don’t know when our time on this earth will come to an end, it’s important we make the most of every opportunity to live, to love, and to laugh.

It’s also important that we make our relationships a priority especially our relationships with family members and with Jesus Christ.

As long as we are following Jesus, we don’t need to fear death.  He has promised us a place in heaven if we follow him.

Your mother loved you and she loved Jesus, and I believe she is in heaven where she doesn’t have to deal with cancer any more. 

We will miss her. 

She wants you to be happy, and she wants you to know you are loved.  Remember her smiles.  Remember her hugs.  And remember the way she loved.

As I observed her husband at the viewing and at the funeral, it looks like he is doing an incredible job speaking into the lives of his children.

Please pray for him and his three young children over the next days, weeks, and months as they navigate life without their wife and mother.

How would you answer the question?  (If you were her husband, how would you explain this death to your kids?)

(To read more about Leanne’s friend, click here.)

Reflections Of A Father Who Is Getting Ready To Send His Daughter Away To College

crawford hall

When I was looking at colleges, my Dad drove me out to Grove City College for a campus visit and an admissions interview.  I had never heard of the school before, but my Dad encouraged me to check it out based on a scholarship opportunity through the Presbyterian Church.  I remember pulling up in front of Crawford Hall one summer afternoon.  This is the first building most visiting high school students see when they come on campus, and it’s where potential students meet with admissions staff.

I remember meeting with my admissions counselor while my Dad waiting in the waiting room.  While I was being interviewed, my Dad was paging through the information about the college, and he discovered a name from his college days at Bethel College in Minnesota.  One of his English professors and her husband were now on staff at Grove City College.  And at the end of my interview, Dr. Arnie Sodergren and my Dad came into my interview.  I don’t remember all the details, but it seemed like it was more of an opportunity for my Dad and Dr. Sodergren to catch up then it was for my Dad to ask questions about the college.

Afterwards, we toured the campus and started our journey back across Pennsylvania to our home in New Jersey.

When I became a student at Grove City College, I always felt a connection when I ran across the Sodergrens in Rockwell Hall, Buhl Library, or somewhere else on campus.  They always asked about my family.

Fast forward twenty-five years (or so).

On Friday, we took Hannah, our oldest child, to Grove City College for a campus tour, her interview, and a chance to meet the cross-country and track coaches.  We arrived on campus early, so we decided to take our own walking tour.  We walked through the new Student Union and Pew Fine Arts Building before we headed back to Crawford Hall.  As we were walking past Rockwell Hall, I noticed a familiar face – Dr. Sodergren.

I called out his name, and he stopped to chat for a few minutes.  Of course, he asked how my parents were doing.  And I learned that he retired four years ago, but he still comes back to campus to do independent research.  He seemed happy to be retired, and he seemed happy to still have involvement in the Grove City College community.

The rest of the day was great.  Hannah had her interview, and we met with the coaches who spent a good deal of time with us.  We met a friend for lunch in town before coming back to campus for our tour.

I’m not sure where Hannah will end up going to college.  She has narrowed her list to three schools that all have their benefits.  We are trying to keep an open mind without pushing her to hard towards our college.

The year ahead will be an adventure for sure.  Hannah will complete her college applications.  We will decide on a college.  She will graduate high school, and we will send her on to the next stage in her educational career.  This stage of our parenting lives has come along very quickly.  It seems like yesterday when we watched her board the yellow school bus in front of our house for her first day of first grade.  Now, she jumps into her little yellow Chevy Aveo on her way to cross-country practice, her job at Chick-Fil-A, or to youth group at our church.

As we enter this final year of high school for our “little” girl who is quickly growing up into a beautiful young lady, we will do our best to make the most of every opportunity.  We will celebrate the accomplishments.  We will grieve the rapid passing of time.  And we will embrace a bright, unknown future.

What do you remember about visiting your college for the first time?  How are you preparing your kids to launch to the next stage of their lives?

4 Ways To Handle The Sacred Moments Of Parenting


Each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children.

Charles R. Swindoll

When I was a young kid, I remember watching my Grandpa Miller shave with his electric razor.  He rubbed in back and forth across his face, and I can still hear the buzzing sound if I close my eyes.  When he was finished shaving his face, he would reach down and run the electric razor across my cheeks and down my chin.  I didn’t have any hair on my face, but the experience of having the electric razor running over my face gave me the feeling of being all grown up.

I remember watching my Dad shave in our upstairs bathroom.  He gently rubbed shaving cream under his chin, above his lip, and around his cheeks.  Then he carefully ran the blade of his disposable razor across his face removing the shaving cream and the stubble on his face.  I learned a lot in these moments of observation.  The method I use to shave my own face today is a reflection of the lessons I learned while watching my Dad shave his face.

When my own facial hair began to emerge, my Dad took time to show me how to shave.  I don’t remember the particulars, but I remember it being a milestone in my development.  At first, I only needed to shave every couple of weeks.  Then I had to shave once a week.  And eventually, I had to shave on a daily basis.

Sunday night, I experienced another shaving milestone in my life.  My son, Isaac, turned fifteen in May, and he is turning into a man before my eyes.  I noticed the past few weeks that he has had hair above and below his lip.  Blond hair has also been extending from his sideburns down his cheeks.  It was time for Isaac to shave for this first time.

At ten o’clock in the evening, I called Isaac into my bathroom where I grabbed a razor out of the linen closet.  We stood in front of the mirror where I gave brief instructions on how to shave.  Isaac applied shaving cream, and he took his first few razor strokes down the side of his face.  He rinsed the razor removing the shaving cream, and he proceeded to take a few more strokes under his lip.  Before I knew it, Isaac and I stood in front of the mirror.  We didn’t share many words, but I think we realized the magnitude of this moment.  It was a sacred moment.

As parents, we have the honor, privilege, and responsibility of ushering our children through the milestones of life.  Whether it’s taking their first steps, boarding the school bus for the first time, driving a car for the first time, or shaving for the first time, we must learn to embrace these sacred moments of parenting.  They are holy moments, and they come and go quickly.

4 Ways To Handle The Sacred Moments Of Parenting

  1. Keep your eyes open.  Sacred moments of parenting are easily missed if we aren’t awake.  As we parent our children, we must learn to be present, so we don’t miss out.
  2. Record these moments.  Take pictures.  Write notes in a journal.  Make a video recording.  Store up these memories in your mind.  By recording these moments, you will provide a place for future reflection and reminiscing.  You will provide a record for your children and their children.  We learn through our parents, and our children will learn through us.
  3. Celebrate.  Don’t be afraid to have ceremonies to commemorate the sacred parenting moments.  Take time to acknowledge the milestones and transitions your children are experiencing as they move from youth to adulthood.
  4. Share.  Your parenting experiences – good and bad – can be used to teach others.  Your parenting stories could provide the inspiration to other parents who need help navigating the challenges of parenting.

Tell me about a sacred moment in your own parenting journey.  Or tell me about a sacred moment you experienced at the hands of your parents.  Leave your response in the comments.


Jordan Spieth, The Masters, Camping, and Track – Reflections From A Father, Son, and Grandson


Yesterday, Jordan Spieth became the second youngest player ever to win the coveted green jacket by winning The Masters in August, GA.  Due to a busy weekend camping with Isaac and helping out at Hannah’s track meet, I didn’t have an opportunity to keep up with the golf tournament until the very last few holes.  I always enjoy watching moments like these.  I love hearing the stories of athletes and their families.  And I enjoy seeing how the athletes respond to their victories (and defeats).

(Coincidentally, Jordan Spieth went to the same high school in Dallas, TX that my youngest brother attended.)

Many of his competitors praised Jordan for his play over the four-day tournament, and they commented on the great things to come for this 21-year-old.  The commentators were very gracious in describing the journey Spieth has taken to get to this moment.  When he finished up the final short putt on the final hole, he leaned over to reflect on the moment.  He hugged his caddy and shook hands with Justin Rose.  Then he handed his putter over to his caddy and headed to a small section of spectators standing at the edge of the green.  The spectators included his mom, dad, brother, girlfriend, and his grandpa.  For a brief moment, Jordan and his grandfather embraced.  His grandpa had some words for Jordan.  I wish I could capture them for the blog, but it was clear he was expressing his pride and perhaps passing down some wisdom to his young grandson.

Above all else, this is the moment I’ll remember about this year’s Masters tournament.  To me, it brought similar emotions that well up inside me every time I see the end of Field of Dreams when Kevin Costner’s character shares a moment with his dad.

Life has spread my family apart.  I live in eastern Pennsylvania.  My parents and youngest brother live in Dallas, TX.  My middle brother and his family live in Milwaukee, WI.  My only living grandfather lives in Minneapolis, MN.  And the rest of my family lives anywhere from a five-hour drive away to a long plane ride to Guam where my cousin is stationed in the Navy.

I have learned to accept these conditions.  And yet, there is something inside me that longs for the embrace of my dad or my grandpa when I experience life’s victories and defeats.  I will never win The Masters, but I want to experience in person the pride and wisdom of my parents and grandfather when I publish my first book, when I celebrate a big promotion, or when I experience one of life’s many milestones.

As I look back on this weekend, it was an opportunity for me to do this with my own kids.  On Friday night, I jumped in the car right after work with Isaac to go camping with him and his scout troop at a local scout reservation.  On Saturday morning, I woke up early to head back to our high school to help out with Hannah’s track meet.  I had the privilege of celebrating her best mile time ever and observe her interaction with a very interested college coach and recruiter.  I headed back to the scout reservation for dinner and a night of camping with Isaac.  There are not always long conversations exchanged during these types of events, but I was so thankful to observe and to celebrate the victories and milestones of my children.

I’m learning again and again that our time of parenting only seems to accelerate as time goes along.  Hannah is finishing up her junior year in high school and is looking forward to college, and Isaac is right behind her as he finishes up his freshman year in high school.  I want to make the most of these moments and opportunities.  I want to rejoice and pass along wisdom when my kids experience a victory, and I want to be there when they experience defeat and need a shoulder to lean on.  And I want to be there for years to come.  Will this happen?  I don’t know.  I know God has big plans in store for both my kids, and I believe He still has big plans in store for Leanne and me as we move onto the next stage of our married lives.  May we listen to God’s direction and be open to his promptings in the days, weeks, and years to come.

Congrats Jordan Spieth on your victory, and thank you for sharing the moments with your family and with the world!

What moments have you celebrated with your family?

5 Ideas For Teaching Our Sons


My son was in a special band concert last night for the area’s best band musicians in seventh through ninth grade.  He had the opportunity to play his trumpet in both the concert band and jazz band portions of the concert.  Sometimes, it can be a challenge to see our son during concerts because the trumpets are usually tucked a few rows behind the flutes, clarinets, and other instruments.  His seat for the concert band portion of this program put him right in my view this time, and it was nice to see him as he played.

I noticed my son was wearing a necktie for the program, and it struck me that I can’t remember spending a lot of time teaching him how to tie a necktie.  I have to wear a necktie every day for my job, so I can put one on without much thought.  But he rarely wears a necktie.  So I started thinking.  How did he learn how to do this?  He must have learned either by watching me or by following a YouTube instructional video.  I’m hoping it’s the first one.

Teaching our sons is not an option.  It’s a responsibility! 

Here are some useful tips for making the most of those teaching moments:

5 Ideas for Teaching Our Sons

  1. Live life out in the open.  Our sons need to see us doing life right in front of them.  Whether it’s putting a tie on, changing the oil in the car, taking out the trash, or paying the bills.  It’s important for our sons to see us doing things.  They will learn just by watching.
  2. Encourage questions.  Most boys are very inquisitive.  They want to learn, and they are looking to you for wisdom and knowledge.  The pace of life can keep us from stopping to listen and answer our sons.  Resist the urge to put them off.  Stop, listen, and answer.  Not only will you teach your boys about the subject of their questions, you will teach them how to listen.
  3. Get help when you need it.  If you don’t know how to do something, find the answer yourself.  Maybe you don’t know how to tie a tie.  Ask a friend to show you.  Look online for instructional videos.  Learn so you can pass this knowledge onto your sons.
  4. Practice humility.  Learn to apologize.  Learn to admit your shortcomings.  A dad can teach his sons just as much through the things he doesn’t know as through the things he does know.  As a dad, you won’t always get it right, and your boys need to see you responding appropriately to these moments.
  5. Don’t wait for tomorrow.  Time is short.  Your sons will be out of the house on their own before you know it.  Make the most of each opportunity to invest in your boys.  You won’t regret it!

This article originally appeared on Daddy Press.

What tips do you have for teaching our children well?

Stretched On The Road


Today, I’m traveling.  I’ll be back.

If you want to read or listen to more great content by me, please stop by these places:

5 Ideas For Teaching Our Sons over at Daddy Press

My son was in a special band concert last night for the area’s best band musicians in seventh through ninth grade.  He had the opportunity to play his trumpet in both the concert band and jazz band portions of the concert.  Sometimes, it can be a challenge to see our son during concerts because the trumpets are usually tucked a few rows behind the flutes, clarinets, and other instruments.  His seat for the concert band portion of this program put him right in my view this time, and it was nice to see him as he played.

I noticed my son was wearing a necktie for the program, and it struck me that I can’t remember spending a lot of time teaching him how to tie a necktie.  I have to wear a necktie every day for my job, so I can put one on without much thought.  But he rarely wears a necktie.  So I started thinking.  How did he learn how to do this?  He must have learned either by watching me or by following a YouTube instructional video.  I’m hoping it’s the first one.

Teaching our sons is not an option.  It’s a responsibility! [Read more by clicking here.]

7 Habits That Build A Lasting Marriage over at The Good Men Project

A few weeks ago, I visited my wife’s family for the holidays.  As part of the visit, I spent a fair amount of time with my wife’s aunt and uncle.  Uncle Dave is in his mid-eighties. He has always had a wit and charm about him.  Over the last couple of years, I’ve been able to see that Uncle Dave is starting to lose a little pep in his step.  He has struggled to stay alert and to remember things he normally would recall with ease.  This visit in particular, I could see how he is heading further down the path of Alzheimer’s (though I’m not sure if he has officially been diagnosed).
Uncle Dave and Aunt Donna have been married for over thirty years – second marriages for both of them.  They have always had an active love affair with each other.  They used to work together.  They golf together.  And they go out for coffee every morning together.  Their habits have clearly bolstered their marriage.
During my visit, it was obvious that Uncle Dave’s mental health was frustrating Aunt Donna.  She appeared more tired than normal, and she struggled at times trying to keep Dave in-line at meal times.  Throughout my visit, I thought a lot about her and the hard times she is having as a result of Dave’s fading memory.  The day I left for home, our family went to church together.  In the middle of the service, I noticed the two of them holding hands.  I couldn’t help but smile. I even snapped a picture while nobody was paying attention.  This small gesture reminded me of the commitment they made to each other and the one I made to my wife.  Even when times get tough, I ultimately want a marriage that goes the distance.
Marriage is hard.  According to the American Psychological Association, 40 to 50 percent of marriages in America end in divorce.  Throw health, job, or parenting challenges into the mix, and it doesn’t get any easier.  It takes commitment, diligence, and discipline to overcome these challenges.  [Read the rest of the article by clicking here.]

Jon Stolpe on Learning to Stretch {Podcast Episode #74} on the Right Where You Are Podcast with Tammy Helfrich

Click here to listen to the podcast.

Please stop by each of these.  Read.  Listen.  Leave a comment.  Then come back and answer today’s question.

Which article or appearance was your favorite?  Why?

Navigating The Joys Of Parenting A First Born – The Driving Years

Here’s me and my family the summer before I headed off to college.

I’m a first-born child.  I’m the oldest of three boys.  My middle brother, David, is two and a half years younger than me, and my “little” brother, Erik, is thirteen and a half years younger than me.  We are different although you might not recognize that if you hear us answering the phone.  I think it’s pretty safe to say our parents have had challenges parenting each one of us.  We each respond to correction and discipline a little differently.  While my parents tried to be fair, there is no question that we were each parented a little differently.

As a first-born child, I sometimes felt like I was the guinea pig.  There were certain privileges and expectations that came with being a first-born, and there were also periods of testing.  I tested the boundaries (but not too far as I wanted to please my parents), and my parents were trying to figure out the boundaries as they ventured through parenting milestones for the first time.

I was the first child to go to school.  I was the first child to play on a sports team.  I was the first child to go on an overnight youth group retreat.  And I was the first child to drive.  Driving is a pretty big deal.  In New Jersey, I had to wait until I was seventeen to get my driver’s license.  I didn’t get my own car until I was a junior in college, but I was still expected to pay for my portion of the car insurance bill as soon as I got my license.  I’m not sure how my parents made this decision, but I’m sure it partially had to do with the fact they couldn’t afford to pay for me on their insurance plan and they wanted to make sure I took responsibility for my part of the family driving privileges.

We are currently navigating these waters with our daughter.  Hannah is our first-born child, and she just earned her driver’s license in June.  Leanne and I have been learning a lot through the process.  I think we’re generally doing the right thing, but I feel like we’re also learning and experimenting along the way.

Here are the basics of our agreement with Hannah:

  1. She has to pay for her portion of the car insurance.  We haven’t changed our insurance policy for a while.  Adding Hannah to our plan has meant investigation and price comparison.  We think it’s important for her to pay her share of the insurance, so she has ownership in the whole process.
  2. She has to pay for gas when she uses our car.  Gas is expensive.  This could be one reason many parents pay for gas for their children.  This is why we choose to make our kids pay for the gas they use.  Driving costs money, and we are not made of money.
  3. If we get another car (to be used by her), she will pay for half of the car.  Neither Leanne or I had cars until we were into the second half of our college careers.  My parents had two cars I could use when they were available.  We only have one car that Hannah can drive.  This may make having a second car more attractive to Hannah.  She is currently looking at a couple of cars.  The idea of paying for half the car came from Dave Ramsey’s 401DAVE Plan he used with his children when it came to their first car purchases.  When a child pays for a major portion of their vehicle, they are more likely to take care of it.
  4. Any costs incurred as a result of a ticket or accident will result in additional payment by Hannah (and possible further results).  Hannah is a good driver, but tickets and accidents happen.
  5. She cannot drive with other people besides her brother until we agree it’s okay.  The state of Pennsylvania limits the number of non-family members in a car driven by a minor.  We are enforcing this limit and adding our own stipulation until we are all more comfortable with Hannah’s driving.
  6. She must clearly communicate with us about times, places, and people.  She has a cell phone for a reason.  We expect her to call us when she arrives at a place.  We expect her to tell us where she will be and when she will be home.  In addition, we expect her to ask us before she goes someplace.  We know that Hannah is trying to figure out her boundaries of independence, and this is something we want to encourage with appropriate limits.  Communication is key to trust.
  7. Driving is a privilege and not a right.  As parents, we reserve the right to restrict or remove driving privileges based on attitude, grades, family participation, and overall performance.  Just because she has a license (and potentially a car) does not mean she is completely independent.  She still lives under our roof.  We are still the parents, and she is still our child.
  8. Safe driving is a must.  This goes without saying, but it must be said.  I was a teenager, so I know it can be easy to have a feeling of invincibility.  It only takes a split second to get into a dangerous situation, and in today’s world of cell phones and other devices, it’s easy to be distracted while driving.
  9. We love you!  No matter what happens, we love our daughter.  We have these “rules”, because we love Hannah.  We want what is best for her.  The Bible says that parents who love their children discipline them and set appropriate boundaries for them.  This is our aim.

Are these all the right rules?  For us, it’s a place to start.  Leanne and I are definitely learning through this experience.  We have been reminded about the importance of communicating with each other and with our children.  Some people may think we are being too strict, and some may say we are too lenient.

Will we change the rules at some point?  I’m not sure.  We are trying to do our best, but this is the first time we’ve done this.  Our second child will hopefully benefit from watching his older sister navigate these waters.  And we will hopefully benefit by better communicating our expectations to our son.

Parenting is a challenge, and parenting a first-born child is an adventure!

Where do you fall in the birth order of your family?  How did your parents handle driving privileges for you?  How have you handles driving privileges for your children?  If your kids aren’t driving age yet, have you started talking about it yet?  What rules will you have for your kids when it comes to driving?