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Old 08-27-08, 03:37 PM   #1
Kurt Erlenbach
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Parenting help needed

A matter arose during this morning's ride that presents a conundrum wrapped in an enigma. I need some advice.

My 16-year old son is a budding radical environmentalist who rides his bike 5 1/2 miles to school despite having access to a car. This morning I was getting ready for a ride when he was getting ready to leave, and I offered to ride to school with him. He readily accepted. (Take a moment with that: A teenager who is a popular member of the swim team and Eco Club, with an actual girlfriend, agrees to bike ride to school with his 52-year old father, who was dressed in bike shorts, a t-shirt, bike helmet and white bike shoes. Thus, the enigma.) The route to school has good-quality paths about half the way, and I have been telling my son to stay on the road and off the paths, because the road is safer. Today, however, we were almost run into by a driver passing a trash truck, and I was almost hit by a speeding teenager turning right on red into my lane. Thus, my conundrum: Is it good parenting for a teenager to see his father yelling at and flipping off bad drivers, as a way of teaching assertive (and thus safe) cycling in traffic? I ask this in light of an incident about four years ago when we were riding and a redneck in a pickup truck honked at him and buzzed him, and then did the same to me, and I yelled at the driver and gave him a finger, resulting in my son telling me that I was his "hero."

So, was I right or wrong?
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Old 08-27-08, 03:52 PM   #2
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I am fairly certain no one ever learned anything by being flipped off. You've clearly already raised a great teenager, so I'd just continue to model the same good behavior you've probably always modeled for him. When a little righteous anger spills out (without over-thinking or forethought) he will understand your passion for good behavior and doing the right thing.
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Old 08-27-08, 04:01 PM   #3
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Absolutely and utterly wrong.
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Old 08-27-08, 04:56 PM   #4
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Thus far, I have been able to resist the temptation to show the uplifted digit to some folks who really, really deserved it. IMHO, you were wrong to model that behavior at all and especially in the presence of your son even though the perps most likely deserved the uplifted digit and perhaps a good throttling.
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Old 08-27-08, 05:20 PM   #5
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There are too many people in the world who don't seem able to comprehend beyond one anyway. Communications beyond the single digit are lost on them. Your son has been raised alright so far. It will be to his advantage to become acclimated to the real world. It is better that the process take place with his father than with others later on.
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Old 08-27-08, 05:32 PM   #6
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I think it's OK to let your son in on the fact that you are human and have a temper like the rest of the population. You know it's not your best behavior...maybe you are struggling not to do it...but we all have our moments.

As for encouraging him to stay off the trails...maybe you better rethink that advice? I don't see too many threads about folks killed on the trails.
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Old 08-27-08, 07:03 PM   #7
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I rarely ever yell at anyone, and have never given anyone the one-finger salute. So I can't say that I would be supportive of that behavior. I know I would say critical things about those drivers and talk about what poor examples they are. And I would use them as examples of why one must always ride defensively, for even though you may be in the right, you will always ultimately lose the argument to a car or truck.

But then, I would be using and advocating the use of the bike paths, because I do not think they are less safe. At least for riders who ride intelligently. I never have problems on paths, even busy ones. I might have to ride up right behind walkers and nearly stop to wait for the passing lane to clear, but I'm a patient guy and that doesn't bother me at all.
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Old 08-27-08, 07:08 PM   #8
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When you give someone the finger it appears a tad immature, when a 50 yrs old man does it, it looks ridiculous. And what does it accomplish? If your son saw you do it you might want to apologize to him for your behavior, and let him know that what you did is not considered acceptible behavior.
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Old 08-27-08, 07:29 PM   #9
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When a driver passes unnecessarily close to you, he is trying to scare you or to make you angry because you are riding a bicycle on his road. When you give him the finger, you reward him by telling him that you noticed and that it made you angry.

Sometimes no response is the best response.
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Old 08-27-08, 07:30 PM   #10
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The important question is whether or not you got the license plates copied down.
Fingers don't accomplish anything except make you look like a fool..

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Old 08-27-08, 08:17 PM   #11
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When a driver passes unnecessarily close to you, he is trying to scare you or to make you angry because you are riding a bicycle on his road. When you give him the finger, you reward him by telling him that you noticed and that it made you angry.

Sometimes no response is the best response.
+1. Rise above it, don't flame it. Sometimes I smile and wave, and that seems to disarm them.
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Old 08-27-08, 08:18 PM   #12
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Parents are almost always wrong when it comes to teaching teenagers.
Don't sweat the small stuff, with what they see and hear at school minor adult indiscretions are tolerable.
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Old 08-27-08, 08:47 PM   #13
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Sorry, wrong. Staying in control is a better example.

BTW, are you sure the roads are safer? I ride roads a lot, but my commute has a lot of bike path. Seems safe to me. Why do you not think so?
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Old 08-27-08, 08:53 PM   #14
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You are a judge and you ask this question?

And when the redneck returns and gives your son the Florida version of an Easy Rider ending scene................?
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Old 08-27-08, 09:04 PM   #15
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Next time stick your finger up your ^ss and then lick it . . . Bad taste either way!
Use a full five fingered wave instead!
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Old 08-27-08, 09:11 PM   #16
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You were right. Let's just hope it wasn't his principal or coach.
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Old 08-27-08, 09:14 PM   #17
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Sorry, I don't think that was a good example for your son. He's already learned enough of the bad stuff. I think it's up to parents to always set a good example(not that we always will simply cause we're human). I've always gotten futher by keeping my cool in tough situations than when I've lost my temper.
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Old 08-27-08, 09:21 PM   #18
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Three things:

1. Sounds like you're doing a lot right; your son sounds like a terrific kid.

2. I could use some parenting advice of my own, so I feel unworthy offering it to others. But, since you asked....

3. I would tell my son that "the finger" is a really dangerous gesture. It's practically "fighting words" to some people, and you can't go around flipping it unless you're ready and able to physically defend yourself. I've lost my temper before (I yell at drivers, I admit) but I always keep my finger in check...I honestly think it's a dangerous thing to toss around in public, especially in traffic.
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Old 08-27-08, 09:23 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Retro Grouch View Post
When a driver passes unnecessarily close to you, he is trying to scare you or to make you angry because you are riding a bicycle on his road. When you give him the finger, you reward him by telling him that you noticed and that it made you angry.

Sometimes no response is the best response.
+1

Imagine in your minds eye how you'd like your son to react in the same situation. If that is what you'd like to teach him, that is what you should have done.
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Old 08-27-08, 09:33 PM   #20
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I'm baffled about how the roads are safer than the trails / bike paths. And no, losing your temper and giving the hand signal for **** you in front of your son is not good parenting.
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Old 08-27-08, 10:00 PM   #21
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Losing your cool in front of your son is no big deal, but try not to make a habit of it.

Getting run over, shot or beaten up in front of your kid is probably not good parenting, and the one finger salute has been known to provoke such responses.

I've never been a parent, but I learned the hard way a long time ago just how angry people can get when you give them the one finger salute.
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Old 08-27-08, 10:02 PM   #22
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I've done the same in front of my kids, and don't feel the slightest bit guilty. But I've stopped flipping people off. I smile and wave like they are my long lost buddies, especially if they yelled or went crazy with the horn.

Most people that pass too close are just clueless. The ones that are trying to intimidate are more obnoxious about it. I'd like my kids to ride on bike paths if they can. Granted, our town has put a million stop signs on the path, including some for driveways, which in my view is insane. But I don't think they are really ready to ride on the roads around here, there are too many drivers that are in a really big hurry to stop at the next poorly timed traffic light.
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Old 08-28-08, 12:24 AM   #23
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+1. Rise above it, don't flame it. Sometimes I smile and wave, and that seems to disarm them.
+1.

That's what I do...even though I want to flip them off and yell at them. You never know who the wackadoo is, who might turn around and point a gun at you, or run you off the road.

I know it's counter-intuitive but smiling and waving takes the sail out of their wind.

Oh, and K, good job that your son wants to ride with you...that's cool.
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Old 08-28-08, 07:31 AM   #24
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White cycling shoes, the best. Count your blessings at least your kid with 2 grandkids in tow did not move back into your house.
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Old 08-28-08, 07:42 AM   #25
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See if I did that riding with my 17 y/o son, he would probably make a comment like, "Yeah, Dad, that was, like, real mature." Insert massive amounts of sarcasm from him here. He would probably also insert a smart aleck remark like, "Next time shoot him!" We understand each other pretty well that he would disagree with what I did, but understand why I did it. Good kid.
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