“Do as I say, not as I do.”
How often do we end up giving our teens mixed messages? We teach them about safe driving habits but we still check texts when we’re behind the wheel. We tell them to be nice to everyone but we pass along gossip about someone in town.
The challenge of leading by example became extremely apparent just the other day when I was speaking with a friend who lives here in Wilton – let’s call her “Jane Doe.” She had a bit of a dilemma and was questioning whether she had handled a situation in the appropriate way.
Turns out Jane had a friend come over the other night for dinner. When the friend got to Jane’s house, it was apparent she had had several glasses of wine before arriving. This friend brought even more wine and appetizers with her and proceeded to have another glass of wine. Now, let’s be perfectly honest – it is not uncommon for women to have a “girlfriend’s night” over a few glasses of wine at someone’s home.
But Jane was concerned about her friend driving home, more than once offering to drive her friend home and then get her again in the morning to retrieve her car. Jane even suggested that her friend spend the night so she wouldn’t have to drive. Both of these offers were met with a refusal.
Ultimately Jane’s friend drove home.
What’s more, all of this played out in front of Jane’s kids who knew that their mom’s friend was “acting different.”
Jane agonized the next day as to how she could have handled the situation differently. After all, she made several offers and they were all declined. What could she have done – tackled her friend to the ground and taken away her keys?
As parents, we lecture our kids about being not getting in a car with someone who’s been drinking. Remember the commercial, “Friends don’t let friends drive drunk”? We remind them to watch out for their friends, stay in groups and certainly don’t leave let a friend leave a party alone with someone they’ve just met.
It’s not always that easy when someone is determined to do something unsafe – especially when they’ve been drinking.
The question becomes – how far are we willing to push and risk our friendship? Not only did Jane’s friend run the risk of hurting herself driving home, she posed a threat to anyone else on the road.
Here’s a solution – Jane needed to tell her friend that she was extremely concerned for both her friend’s safety and anyone else on the road, and that, because of this, Jane would be forced to call the police and inform them that her friend was leaving her home–and that she had been drinking.
Tough? Yes. But, isn’t this what we would instruct our kids to do? How far would you go to save a friend, even at the risk of insulting her?
Wilton resident Alison Jacobson is a motivational speaker and life coach who works with women to break through their fears to rediscover their passion and live a confident, fulfilling and successful life.