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Sucks to be Chad

November 10, 2004

I came across this story today in the course of some routine automotive research.  I’ll post up some pertinent sections and then make a few snarky comments, but the article’s well worth the read.

As teen car ownership soars, some parents put on the brakes

[A] recent string of fatal traffic accidents in the Washington, D.C., area involving young drivers has strengthened some parents’ resolve to delay giving their teenagers the keys to the highway.

Julie Sussman of Centreville, Va., long ago decided that her son Chad, 15, would wait until he was 17 to apply for his learner’s permit. She said she was baffled by parents who say to a child, “You’re 15½ — here are the keys to a car.”

Long before 15 people died this fall in teen-age driving accidents, for example, Sussman decided that her son Chad, a high school freshman, would not get a license — let alone a car — when he turns 16 next year. He won’t even drive until he turns 17 and becomes an Eagle Scout, his parents told him.

“I have a brother, and I used to drive with him, and it’s a miracle we survived,” Sussman said. “I am overprotective because I’m frightened.”

Chad said he had accepted his parents’ decision, although it has caused some ribbing from his friends.

Still, in his fantasy, Chad would drive a Corvette. But he is his parents’ son, so when the time comes, he said, his ride will be “more likely something like a Volvo.”

Wow.  It sure sucks to be Chad Sussman.  Reading this made my teeth clench.   It made me want to track down this poor kid’s soul leech of a mother and talk some sense into her, or, failing that, sign her up for every opt-in marketing program known to mankind.

I can’t speak for others, but my sixteenth birthday and the receipt of my driver’s license was one of the defining moments of my life.  Up there with graduating high school, or moving away to college.  The ability to drive, and the freedom that came with it, had a profound impact on my development.  I literally would not be the same person I am today.  Driving (outside of rush hour) has evolved into one of my great loves.

And so, reading about poor Chad, well, it galls me. 

His mother says she’s being overprotective because she’s afraid.  Guess what, sweetheart, that’s pretty much the reason that people are overprotective.  Good job, you hit the nail on the head.

Here’s the thing, though.  You can’t protect your children forever.  At some point, they have to leave the nest and fly on their own.  And if you hold them back, even with the best of intentions, at some point you begin doing more harm than good.  It can breed timidity, or spark outright rebelliousness and resentment.

I’m not saying kids should be given complete license.  Discipline is required, but unless you are willing to trust your children with modest amounts of responsibility, how can you expect them to be ready to shoulder the burdens of reality themselves when they are thrust out into it?

Unfortunately, I fear that Julie’s overprotectiveness extends behind the issue of driving.  How, you ask?

Listen to the poor kid.  He’s fifteen, and he’s already given up on his fantasy car and resigned himself to "something like a Volvo".  Only a kid that’s had his spirit ridden hard and broken would say something like that.

One day, of course, he will snap and, in the height of his mid-life crisis, he will buy that Corvette that his overbearing mother strangled from his dreams.

Godspeed, Chad Sussman.

One Comment leave one →
  1. chad permalink
    September 8, 2005 6:01 pm

    this is the real chad, i googled my name and im now driving hahaha

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