1) Driving: The heavy weight king of kids liability is driving. New drivers are simply dangerous. New drivers in hot rod cars pumped up on teenage testosterone and texting all at once is a disaster waiting to happen. I didn't say it in the last blog because I thought it obvious at this point, but just in case: distracted driving does worse things than kill others, it makes them, baron damages them to the point they sit in a wheelchair and need millions in medical care. It ruins lives. It is NOT worth it. Put the phone away. If someone important calls about something that can't wait, there is a grocery store parking lot or gas station or some safe place to pull over. Stop the car, and deal with it - all within 60 seconds of wherever you are. No excuses!
2) Parties: Oh yes, we all believe our kids aren't the ones who would have a party when we are out of the house. I thought it. My kids were quiet honor students in the IB program at school. They are going to college next year - on the Florida Smarty Pants Scholarship! Really serious. Really trustworthy. Not really interested in drinking. Or drugs. Or really even interested in parties. Soon to be Big Wigs, Indian Chiefs and possibly even astronauts or brain surgeons! OR MAYBE they are just teenagers who would have a party about 3 hours after we left them (a 17 year old and a 15 year old) alone for 1 night while we were just an hour or two south! Coming home to broken beer bottles and stolen property because they lost control of the number of kids they either invited or who just showed up wasn't too bad. The fact that some punks stole some expensive jewelry was distressing. But the best thing was that no one was hurt driving home drunk or high or rolling or tripping or whatever else may have gone down at what my neighbor said was a real "barn burner." Had anyone hurt or killed another person after drinking my beer out of my refrigerator, I would have been sued to the ends of my policy and likely a bit more for allowing these children access to the house for a party. Certainly we didn't plan it, condone it, permit it, or even desire it; but a solid personal injury attorney will hook me in anyway.
3) Bullying and Social Media: There is a wave coming, maybe a tidal wave, of bullying-related injury lawsuits and actions. Gary Namie is a nationally known bullying expert. He is working for legislation to prohibit bullying. But even without anti-bullying laws, the present laws of defamation and libel all work to help stop nastiness over the web. Emails, blogs, tweets, YouTube videos, tumbler, and who knows all the new ways people communicate cause the worst of what's written to go viral and spread like wildfire. As the parent of a teen you buy the nastiness of your child's web rants. So monitor what the say. Monitor and spy on what they do. Let them know the serious nature of what defaming a teacher or another student can do. In our family the law is clear. You live in a communist dictatorship. Each gets what they need with little to no right to privacy and choice only over issues we permit. All other orders need to be obeyed. All Internet activity shall be monitored. You must give us your password. You must give us access to your social media profiles. If you are caught sneaking around without disclosure you will be executed. Ok. Not executed. But your social profile will die, and you won't get access for a long time. If you are the type of parent who believes their child is responsible and sweet and deserves some rights to privacy then there is only one thing to say... You're WRONG. Sorry, but you need to hear that. If you don't believe me, then I am pretty sure it's your kid who is selling pot to the rest of the school.
4) Other Activities: Not to belabor the liability point, but pretty much anything your kids do can cause you liability. So whether it's water skiing or snowboarding or horseback riding you need to explain to your kids that they must try hard to be responsible because risky behavior can hurt others. I must admit, I'm a bit of a hypocrite here because I also believe we are teaching our kids not to take chances and take risks. I know there is a balance. Just be wary, and stay on the lookout for unwarranted risks.
Brian F. LaBovick