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Video of 12-year-old driving a semitruck on busy highway is hard to watch

Ashley Austrew is a freelance writer who loves tacos, Target and screen time. Her work has appeared on Scary Mommy, The Stir, Mommyish and more.

Dad lets his 12-year-old drive 18-wheeler down the highway, because what could go wrong there?

Co-parenting with an ex-partner is tricky business, but one Missouri mom's situation is more challenging than most: Her ex-husband won't stop allowing their 12-year-old son to drive a big rig down crowded highways.

More: Tricky issues with co-parenting after divorce

Yes, you read that right. Tammy Hauenschild says her ex, Kenny, has been giving their middle schooler driving lessons in his 18-wheeler. The dangerous decision came to light recently after Kenny allegedly posted a video to his Facebook page that shows the child behind the wheel of a 12-foot-wide Peterbilt motor grader.

Through the windows, it's obvious the truck is on a highway with lots of other cars and drivers present. The boy's dad is riding as a passenger, filming the footage and giving his son direction as he shifts gears and powers down the road. There's even a dog licking the kid's ear and distracting him as he drives. See the shocking footage for yourself:

Tammy Hauenschild is a professional truck driver herself and says she thinks her son is in grave danger, even with his father there to help. "My son has no clue," she says. "He could lose control. He could hit someone else out there — a little baby? A mom? Anyone out there on the road." She also says this isn't the first time her ex has doled out one of these dangerous driving lessons.

More: What new parents need to relearn about driving

Surprisingly the police aren't willing to help. Hauenschild went to them with the video, and they called the situation a "domestic dispute" instead of a public safety concern. A sergeant with the Missouri Highway Patrol said the father would likely be held responsible if the truck were pulled over with the child behind the wheel, but outside of that, there's nothing they can do.

Most of us probably remember some questionable early driving lessons from our parents, but it's a safe bet that the circumstances were a bit different. We probably learned in a parking lot in our dad's sedan, as opposed to operating a huge 18-wheeler on a busy highway with other motorists just a few feet away. You can't fault a dad for trying to bond with his son, but some proper judgment needs to be exercised.

More: 5 Common parenting mistakes

If your child just can't wait to get behind the wheel, then there are ways to make it happen without putting anyone in danger. You can let them "drive" in the driveway without starting the ignition — that way they won't accidentally put the car in drive and crash into something or injure someone. You can also choose from thousands of driving video games and let them go hog wild in the comfort of your living room.

More: Driving lessons from the go-kart track to the highway

Responsible tweens can get some road practice in on riding lawn mowers, or if you really want to be the cool parent, you can look into an all-terrain vehicle. ATVs are a great way for kids to get hands-on driving experience without actually heading out onto the road. Laws regarding where you can operate ATVs and how many passengers are allowed on board vary by state, so be sure to check out your local laws here before shifting that plan into gear.

We all want our kiddos to have fun and experience new things, but we also have to remember that accidents can happen at any moment. Giving your kid a driving lesson might seem like a fun way to bond, but safety has to be your main concern. A dad letting his tween drive a semi is probably just trying to show his son a good time, but the risk is definitely not worth the reward.

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