His Father Still:  a parenting memoir

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Parenting Your Teen Through the Dangers of Driving


His Father Still: A Parenting Memoir

His Father Still:  A Parenting Memoir is, first, Reid’s father’s disarmingly candid account of the tumult of parenting Reid through his teen years, and then confronting the unthinkable obligations of a father to a son after a sudden tragedy.

Not So Fast: Parenting Your Teen Through the Dangers of Driving

Backed by research and aimed at empowering parents, Not So Fast: Parenting Your Teen Through the Dangers of Driving, is an informative and vital guide to help parents understand the causes of teen crashes and head them off each time before their teens get behind the wheel.

From Reid's Dad

This blog helps parents find the right balance between exposing teens to life’s risks while protecting them from life’s dangers, with a particular focus on safe teen driving.  If this is your challenge, this blog is for you.

No Tan Rápido

Most driving literature for parents focuses on how to teach a teen to drive, without explaining why teen driving is so dangerous in the first place or giving parents a plan to preempt the hazards teens face. By contrast, No Tan Rápido empowers and guides parents to understand the causes and situations that most often lead to teen crashes and to take specific, proactive steps—before and each time a teen driver gets behind the wheel—to counteract them.

Upcoming Speaking Engagements

  1. St Francis Hospital Trauma Conference

    October 28
  2. Bismarck, North Dakota

    March 1, 2016
  3. Layton, Utah

    April 1, 2016

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Friends: I continue to receive emails from parents about His Father Still. About their own kids. Offering insights into parenting that go well beyond what I wrote. With this mother's permission, and with her name and her daughters' names deleted to preserve privacy, I offer this amazing email I received a few days ago. I am hoping all of you are "enjoying" these emails, not as comments on my book but as amazing insights into this thing we call parenting:

Tim: I have met your son via your book. You have done well by Reid as the book is so eloquently written and is the truth. You present a positive image of your son as he truly was. Throughout my reading I had multiple episodes of tears and a cascade of reflections on my own family and life. At the very last page I did not want the book to end and wondered why. It was because you succeeded being Reid’s hero to present very vividly exactly what he was like and the loss of someone as wonderful as he, even if a stranger to me, is hard.

How do I see Reid? As someone who genuinely cared about those in his life despite all the other insignificant stuff like the expulsion, or typical defiant teenage behavior. As I always say to my family, the flow of water will always seek its level. I have two children, one who is 19 and one almost 18, and my husband and I have gone through many trials guiding them to stay on track. What I’ve learned however from life is that people are always going to be who they are innately despite the external influence of a parent or teacher.

What I mean by that, and the analogy of water seeking its level, I see Reid’s ADD as his gift. Although he struggled academically, it enabled him to pursue his most valuable traits as one who serves and supports others. His friends defined him which is why he had to go to them more often that you would have liked. His friendships were so important to him that his “water” was to seek out those relationships because it was where he shined. You and Ellen did everything that my husband and I would have done had our child been challenged as Reid was, yet my belief is the stronger force for Reid was he himself, in that we are always ‘who we are’. As a child I used to tell my parents that “I’m my own person” and they never really understood what I meant. Unfortunately, it is very difficult for mainstream education to accommodate a gifted person like Reid. But I suspect that all the challenges pushed him even harder to be who he was, a gift to the youngsters he took care of in church and camp, to his friends, and of course to his little sister. The note he wrote where he said he loved you and Ellen was the cherry on top of his being.

It was at the end of your book that I had an epiphany. In the context of Reid’s accident it was clear to me that he didn’t steer the car to avoid the guardrail in self-preservation like most people would have done; instead he steered to take the force of the crash to spare his friends. That is who he is, from what I can gather. Again, he nurtured his friends up to his last breath.

My daughter was diagnosed with brain cancer at age 2 ½ and in 1999 given only a 10-15% chance of living. Her treatments, radiation specifically, have caused her great cognitive damage among other impacts to her physical body. Although she lived, my original daughter was taken from me at age 2 but her personality and kind essence remained intact. Her chronological age of 19 far exceeds her cognitive age of 12 or 13, and that is her gift. She is pure and people love her. Despite cancer (similar to Reid’s ADD), she has made an indelible mark on others. What every parent wants is for a child to make a good mark in life and this book helps me for what we have lost.

In all life there is the dichotomy. One child who is good at schoolwork and the other who isn’t. One child who is ill while the other is healthy. Night and day. Black and white on the page, etc. This dichotomy is everywhere I look. Even to the extent of bare tree branches in the winter against a blue sky being the flipped version of that same tree’s roots in the dark ground. What I’ve learned from my loss is that contrast is good because it makes me appreciate life more. In fact, after Ayla’s diagnosis we too used to talk about all the intense colors in the world.

In life we can make a big splash all up front like Reid did with his loving nature. Or we can make a series of little splashes all through our long lives. Again the dichotomy. But in Reid’s case he will endure in life in that he has done three positive things because of his life: 1) strengthened the teen driving laws; 2) forever changed his friends; and 3) causing you to write this book that will help all who read it to understand more about themselves, their parents and children.

I hope he remains by your side each and every day.

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Tim: From the first page, until the last, I was riveted, awestruck and enthralled. I must confess, however, that I misunderstood the purpose of the book. I thought, mistakenly, that the book was a sequel to Not So Fast, and was in the same manner a teen driving manual advocating for parental involvement. Please accept my apology if I gave you the impression that this was another public service announcement (though that too would have had merit).

I wish I could express all of the thoughts, emotions and reactions I had to every page, story, thought and vivid description. The raw drama you were able to convey, although nothing like being there and experiencing it, gives us readers something of an understanding of the situation into which you were thrust headfirst.

I now understand the tragedy you experienced so much better. And, more importantly, I got to know Reid, albeit through you, and to know that he was a person I would have liked. You are indeed a talented curator of his legacy.

Our oldest son has many of the same qualities you described in Reid. In some chapters, I could have switched the names and everything would have remained equally true. I am sincerely grateful for your sharing, insights and lessons. I only hope that I am able to handle what is coming my way with some of the talent and excellence you instinctively exhibited.

My favorite part of the book was the chapter including the things for which you were thankful. I am thankful you included that.

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Friends: I am starting to get emails about His Father Still. One of the challenges as I was writing the book was convincing editors that the book would appeal not just to parents who had lost a child but also to parents who have struggled or are struggling today with their teens. Below, a letter I received from a mother. I was deeply moved by her words, and perhaps you will be also. I have changed the names to protect her family's privacy:

Dear Tim,

I finished your book last night-- a journey for me with many tears, both from devastating sadness and also from inspiration. I just wanted to let you know how profoundly your story impacted me.

We have a 19-year-old son, Andrew. I saw Andrew in every word you wrote about Reid. Andrew is Reid and Reid is Andrew. We adopted Andrew as an infant. He has severe ADHD and learning challenges. He is handsome, fun, irreverent, charming, empathetic and funny, uncommonly close to his sister, a lover of our dogs. He has challenged us to the breaking point many times since the day we brought him home. We raised him in our community which, like West Hartford, is full of genetically gifted and motivated kids, as well as intense, driven parents and a school system that seems tailored to the high achievers. It has been a constant challenge to keep Andrew's self-esteem intact. At every turn, that self-esteem took a beating, resulting in bouts of severe anxiety and depression. A good kid, many talents, lots of friends, no shortage of girls, adventurous, bad grades, no study habits, dabbling in pot, a video-playing lump, surly and withdrawn around the house, insecure in his place in a world that often seems inhospitable to him and where his strengths are undervalued. I considered it my job -- really my only job for 20 years -- to get and keep him on a path that would lead him to be a productive, self-sufficient and, hopefully, content adult.

That of course meant endless shuffling of schools, meetings, emails, conflicts with teachers and administrators, nagging about, keeping track of, helping with, and agonizing over homework and tests, finding the right therapy, the right meds, the right summer programs. Eventually, at 17, a wilderness program. School attendance, chores, anger, beer, the car, SAT scores. There was another shoe always about to drop. My family life did not seem to resemble the family life of many of my friends and I was occasionally angry and resentful, often scared and sad.

I knew in some corner of my mind that I needed to keep my eye on the beauty in his soul, the kindness in his heart. But that knowing was most often overtaken by worry and its attendant action cry-- fix this!!

Your book changed me. And when my husband finishes it, I am confident it will change him too. While I will continue of course to do my parental job, I will forever hold you and Reid in my heart as a reminder to, above all, love and cherish him, and have gratitude that he is here with me. You showed me that the struggles are just external, temporal, surface, not really so damn important. It sounds like a simple and maybe obvious message, but it is not. Despite loads of therapy, reading and yoga, I did not really fully get this message until I read your book. Maybe it was the parallels between Andrew and Reid, or the way you described your grief and sorrow, that burrowed so deeply into me, that I just will never feel like the same person, the same parent, again.

I imagine nothing can ever soften the blow you and your family have taken, but please know that our family is forever changed by having read your story. And that will reverberate and pay dividends long into the future. I have discussed your story with Andrew and told him in as concrete a way as I can (he, like Reid, is not a fan of the analytical) that he is already a full success in my mind and that I cherish him for exactly who he is, just as he is. I can already see a greater lightness in him just from hearing those words.
Sent from my iPad

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My thanks to the National Safety Council. Last night in Atlanta I was honored to be part of their Safe Teen Driving Awards event. With me on stage, left to right, were Kathy Bernstein, who directs NSC's teen driving activities; Russell Henk of Texas, whose Teens in the Driver's Seat program has reached about one million teens; Ruth Shults (right of me, in uniform) of the Center for Disease Control, whose Parents are the Key program has been very successful; Kelly Nantel, Communications Director of NSC; Debbie Hersman, NSC's new President and CEO (and former Chair of the National Transportation Safety Board); Dr. Arlene Greenspan of the Center for Disease Control; and Arnold Anderson of Essex County, New Jersey, a leader in that state's teen driving programs. It was an honor for me to be part of this event, and my thanks to everyone at NSC for their recognition of my work. ...

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