Dear Amy: My son recently received his learner’s permit to drive.
The other day, backing out of a driveway, he hit our neighbor’s mailbox. My husband was with him and admittedly was not paying attention at that moment.
The owner was nice about it and they agreed to have my son and husband replace it.
My husband thought my son should pay to replace the mailbox. We ended up in an argument over this last part.
I feel that my husband was supposed to be paying attention, monitoring and teaching him to drive.
I have warned him that our son needs a lot more practice, because driving our big car isn’t coming naturally to him.
My husband feels that I am being soft.
Our son wasn’t goofing off, he wasn’t being stupid and he didn’t do anything wrong, except not know how to maneuver the car safely in reverse. It could have been avoided if my husband hadn’t been looking at his phone.
My husband has accepted that what he did was wrong, but is angry at me for letting our son “off the hook.”
Our son apologized and worked in 90-degree temperatures to replace the mailbox. I feel that was reasonable and responsible. Am I letting my son off the hook?
Amy says: Your husband seems to be taking a (laudable) stand to teach your son responsibility and accountability, but the easiest — and most effective — way for him to do this would be for him to say: “Son, lesson number one in our safe-driving course is DON’T look at your phone while you are in charge of the vehicle. As the licensed driver in this car, I am responsible for the safe operation of the vehicle. And look! I blew it before we even got out of the driveway!”
This is the very essence of a teachable moment, and your husband blew it by blaming the student for the teacher’s failure. The two should share the consequences of this accident.
Every driving lesson with your son should be 100 percent free of distractions. It takes a long time to learn to operate a vehicle safely. That’s why the permitting and graduated licensing systems are in place.
Dear Amy: My husband likes to be the funny guy. Sometimes he takes it too far. Recently, there was a little article in our local paper regarding three couples in our family that had anniversaries in June (me and my husband, my mom and dad and my grandparents). The article featured a picture of each couple side by side.
We were all visiting my grandparents, and they had a copy of the article on their fridge. My husband thought it was funny and drew a black mustache on my mom.
I told him privately that it was not appropriate to do that. He admitted it was a dumb thing to do. Before I could replace it with a fresh copy, both my mom and dad saw it. They didn’t seem upset by it, and my mom even laughed.
Well, today my husband got a surprise visit from my dad. My dad confronted him and asked why he had done this. He told my husband that he disrespected their 30-year marriage and that my husband owes my mom an apology.
During their conversation, my husband was also trying to do his job and help customers. What are your thoughts?
Amy says: I completely agree with your father. Yes, perhaps he shouldn’t have confronted his son-in-law at his workplace, but your husband needs to offer a sincere apology to your mother. A bouquet of flowers might help. If he wanted to “mustache” someone, he should have done it to his own face.
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