Dear Dr. Yael,
I am so upset and don’t know what to do about it. My son has always been a great boy, never giving us any problems, did well in yeshiva, etc. He got married about eighteen months ago and recently became a father.
Why am I writing to you? My husband and I found something that really shocked us – it seems he has gotten three speeding tickets in a short amount of time. Did he go crazy? I would have thought a person would be more careful after receiving one speeding ticket. Is this immaturity or total lack of responsibility?
My husband spoke with him calmly about points and having his license suspended. I think he was very surprised that we found out about the tickets, but he didn’t apologize and say he’d be more careful.
Dr. Respler, we are concerned that he does not realize his wife and child can also be in danger. Also, this is so out of character for him. He has always been a very cautious person, even a little bit of a scaredy cat. He seems to be happily married and a proud father, and yet…
I’d appreciate your insight on this.
A Concerned Mother
Dear Concerned Mother,
Since I do not know your son or your family’s specific situation, I can only make some suggestions.
Is your son under pressure and feeling in any way stressed? If so, speeding can be a way of feeling free and powerful.
He may have not apologized since he is embarrassed that you know about these tickets. Is it possible that your husband’s inquiry took him by surprise and that is why he did not respond?
Perhaps his wife is very upset and your knowing only added more stress to the situation.
Was your son very young when he got married and became a father?
Did your son know that getting too many moving violations would cause him to accrue points on his license and that it could be suspended? And can facilitate an increase in insurance rates?
Does your son have problems with time management and did the speeding occur when he was late for something? Was he driving from somewhere and needed to get someplace in time for Shabbos or Yom Tov? Did he hit a lot of traffic and then needed to speed in his mind to make up the time?
Having a baby is a huge adjustment and everything just takes longer. New parents need to adjust from being able to just jump into the car and go, to packing up the baby, feeding the baby, changing the baby, etc. We don’t always allow for the time it takes to learn how to do all these things efficiently.
These are just thoughts that come to mind as possible reasons for his behavior. The bigger concern is that he does not impact his young marriage in any negative manner.
There are some people who become different behind the wheel of a car. I have seen the nicest and most polite people assume a different personality when driving. Speeding is a form of adolescent behavior that you may not have realized your son could exhibit. This may be his form of rebellion.
Since you already confronted him about the tickets, perhaps you can just reiterate how much you love and care about him and his family and ask if there is anything you can do to help. I don’t know what your relationship is like, but if you are close he may be willing to share whatever is going on his life that may have precipitated this happening. Even if your son prefers not to open up to you, being warm and loving will help him feel safe in his relationship with you and, in time, he may feel more comfortable speaking with you.