The Ford MyKey™ is a perfect model for parenting.  The model:  provide the opportunity to make decisions and learn from mistakes within defined standards and boundaries.

Although Ford made an announcement about MyKey a few years ago, it has been discussed in the press more recently since it is now included in their Focus car model. Focus is targeted generally toward the younger crowd, which may include a large segment of teen drivers.

Cars deliver freedom to teens, just as bikes did earlier in their life. While bike accidents may include just some scratches or broken bones, auto accidents cause larger scale, and longer term, impacts on the people involved.

MyKey sets out to set limits for teen drivers. Parents get to set a few limits when the teen puts the key in the ignition. The limitations include:

  • Top speed of 80 mph
  • Always engaged traction control system (limits tire spin)
  • Maximum audio volume to 44 percent of total volume
  • Radio is muted until all passenger seat belts are fastened
  • Speed alert chime at 45, 55 or 65 mph

You can anticipate some of the teen whines – Dude, can’t you turn the music up any more… or Will you just put your seat belt on so we can listen to some music…

Nonetheless, these limitations are not too prohibitive. They do define boundaries on some decisions teens can make and try to eliminate potential distractions.

Is this bad?

According to a Harris Interactive survey, 67 percent of teens asked said they would not want MyKey features (not surprising). If it was a choice between using MyKey with its limitations and not gaining access to a car, only 36 percent would object to it. The freedom to drive overcomes being restricted by a set of defined boundaries.

What this all says is what an earlier post discussed – trust is important, but there is a balancing element to it when raising or working with teens.

Teens do need to have an opportunity to make their own decisions, own mistakes, and own learning opportunities. All of this is still possible, but maybe with a little less opportunity to suffer the real perils of bad decisions.

Although boundaries and standards are both good things, consistency of action is required as well.

What I mean by this is that the parents need to abide by the same standards which are being set.  In other words, do as I do and say!

Just as parents need to demonstrate good driving decisions, they need to act with the same standards outlined and set the tone of making the best decisions possible. Expectations, standards, and boundaries are all tied together and are critical in guiding and parenting a person from teen years to adult years. This is our constant challenge, balancing the definition of the standards and boundaries with acting in a representative manner ourselves.

So, this is not your father’s Oldsmobile, but it is our parenting Focus