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Teen Mom gives kids lesson in what not to do while driving

Teen Mom Leah Messer is no stranger to controversy, but recently when Messer was caught texting and driving — with her kids in the car! — people on social media reacted with more than raised eyebrows. Messer, who not too long ago lost primary custody of her kids for failing to get them to school on time, was seen texting while her kids were in the car recently on Teen Mom 2. And yes, it’s upsetting.

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Aside from the fact that we all know texting and driving is wildly dangerous (you’re four times more likely to get into an accident if you’re texting behind the wheel), let’s talk about what a bad example it sets for our kids.

In our world of smartphones and now, now, now, of course it’s tempting for people to take a peek at their phones while driving — particularly moms, who barely get a moment to go to the bathroom, never mind respond to a text message. When the ding! of a text message or email sounds from an iPhone, it’s almost Pavlovian to immediately pick it up, regardless of the situation.

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But in addition to the extreme risk texting and driving puts people in, it’s a terrible thing for children — who, as we all know, are sponges — to see. Almost all children’s habits come from their parents. If a kid sees their mom or dad quickly picking up their phone while they’re driving them to soccer practice, what would make them think it wasn’t OK to do it when they start driving?

Everyone makes mistakes, and being a parent isn’t the easiest of gigs, but we don’t get to stop being good examples for our children when we get behind the wheel. In fact, that may be one of the most important situations to demonstrate positive behavior. Whether it’s texting or road rage or not abiding by the traffic rules properly, our kids will likely pick up any driving habits we have once they get their license. (How’s that for pressure?)

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One of a parent’s most terrifying days is the day their child gets their license and is free to take to the open road themselves. Who wants to add to that worry by adding the concern that their kiddo will start texting? But it’s almost a guarantee that if you’ve been doing it for years in front of your child, they’ll eventually do the same. Not only isn’t it worth the worry, but who wants that kind of guilt?

As the campaign goes: It can wait.

Have you ever texted while driving?

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