How responsible are we for our teens actions?

Being a parent is not for sissies. As a parent of a teenager, every time I hear about a teen-related car accident, I cringe. If you haven’t seen Footloose yet, be warned, the opening scene is gut wrenching.

But this morning, I read a Miami Herald article that scared the heck out of me. It involves a college student and a car accident – you can only imagine where this is headed.

Ivanna Victoria Villanueva, a 19-year-old University of Miami student was coming home late from a night out at  the LIV nightclub in Miami Beach. She allegedly had
been drinking because her blood alcohol level was above the legal limit. Around 4:30 a.m., her 2011 Audi plowed into another car at an intersection, an accident that claimed the life of a grandmother.

Now, the student has been slapped with a DUI manslaughter charge for the fatal wreck. The charge carries a 15-year maximum prison sentence. To me, the whole scenario is pretty darn scary.

Villanueva also was charged with a third-degree felony count of possessing a false drivers license. Prosecutors  have said at the time of the accident, Villanueva had several fake IDs which she had used to get into the nightclub.

Villanueva, a UM sophomore, has pleaded not guilty and is under house arrest pending trial. There is a real possibility this girl will do jail time.

And there’s more: the family of the grandmother, Eyder Ayala, 68, is suing
Villanueva and her father, who owns the Audi she was driving, for

This is an upsetting story from every viewpoint. Commenters on the Herald
website have called Villanueva a spoiled rich kid and quite a few have said she and
her parents deserve the trouble they have gotten into.

I feel the same as this commenter: “This is very sad, and here but for the grace
of God goes any teenager’s parent.”

I know some of you might say…”my kid would never be in this kind of trouble.”
You also might say, “I take the time to teach my kids responsibility and

But let’s ask this question to any parent: If your child was off at college, can
you be sure he or she wouldn’t drink and drive?  I know, you’ve given your teen the don’t drink and drive lecture a million times. I certainly have. But can you be 100 percent sure your kid would NEVER do it?

Now, what if he or she messes up and does do it. Should you be responsible if you have title to the car he or she drives?

I would answer no parent can be certain her child will NEVER be in the same situation as this college student. We all just hope and pray it won’t happen to our kid.

But I believe once a child turns 18 and heads off to college, that teenager becomes responsible for his actions. Unfortunately, teens learn — good or bad — from consequences of their actions.

Blogger Deborah Crawford writes: Responsibility is not a lesson that can be learned
from lectures. You cannot tell someone to behave responsibly and expect that
your parenting job is done. Responsibility is a growing and learning experience.
And, most of us need a bit of help when it comes to learning to be  “responsible”.

There are teens who max out credit cards, skip school, curse at their parents
and never suffer consequences of their actions. There are teens that do the
right thing all the time. So, when a child turns 18 or goes off to college and
messes up, are both these sets of parents equally responsible should their kid mess up?

Readers, at what age do you feel teens are responsible for their own actions
and as busy as we all are these days, what can you do as parents to make them
more aware of consequences?



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