They fed and clothed you when you could not do so yourself. They sat through agonizing hours of flub-fest baseball games and squeaking clarinet concerts. They taught you how to drive for Pete’s sake! They are your parents. And now you are reasonably certain they are going to kill someone if you don’t take their keys away. Ok, maybe you aren’t certain-certain. But you’re worried enough that you won’t ride as a passenger in their car. And when dad drove over the flower bed in front of McDonald’s on the way to order his morning coffee and asked, “when did they put in that speed bump?”….it didn’t give you a reassuring feeling.
So what to do? Sometimes in life, when you find yourself saying, “Someone oughta say something,” that someone is you. Other times, (ugly babies, when you see your spouse dance for the first time, when you cannot tell what song the 5th grade band is trying to play) it is best to keep your mouth shut. Unfortunately, having a parent or other relative who is becoming a danger on the road usually meets the criteria for saying something. But how? Here are some tips from Caring.com for how to have that conversation. Among other things, they suggest:
-Plan ahead. Have some talking points ready and try to anticipate possible rebuttals. Ruminate on the time that you totaled your dad’s Ford Falcon your junior year. It will probably come up at some point.
-Be realistic. Maybe all that is necessary is asking them to refrain from driving at night or on long trips.
-Consider giving up your own car for a week. See how hard it is firsthand. Having to make advance transportation arrangements or rely on public transportation or friends to get anywhere and everywhere is a gigantic change of lifestyle for most Americans and is a tremendous loss of freedom. Walking a mile in their shoes can help you be more empathetic during the discussion.
-Don’t interrupt. This is just a good rule of thumb in ANY hard conversation.
-Find out if treatable medical condition is the problem. In some cases there is a temporary or treatable reason that your loved one has become a menace on the roads.
-Offer to drive them regularly. If you are asking your parents to make a huge life change at your suggestion be willing to help them. After all, they sacrificed quite a bit for you over the years. Be sure you offer to pick them up for family get-togethers and try to get them interested in local attractions or hobbies that might not require driving.
Even with all this preparation, having the “turn in your keys” conversation will be hard. Just remember the reason for the conversation in the first place: you have your parents’ best interest at heart. Keep that in view if things get heated and remember it is not about winning a fight but about loving your mom or dad as best as you possibly can!