Spada Law Group - April 2019

S pada L aw G roup INJURY LAW LLC

THE SLG ADVISOR

617.889.5000 | SPADALAWGROUP.COM

APRIL 2019

A Cautionary Tale How Being a Lawyer Impacted My Parenting Style

W hen you’re a personal injury horrific accident and tragic wrongful death cases, I can list off countless ways a given activity can go horribly wrong. Just ask my kids, Jake and Jessie. When Jake was younger and wanted to get on a dirt bike or a mini motorcycle I’d freak out. All I could envision were the accident scenes I had witnessed countless times in my cases. When Jake and Jessie got their driver’s licenses as teenagers, I remember thinking about all the things they could potentially do wrong as new drivers that would get them killed. It made for a really uncomfortable time for me, and I recognize now how unfair it was for them. There’s a lot of joy and independence in getting your driver’s license, and I sucked some of the fun out of it for sure. Most parents understand being protective, but I’ll admit that my firsthand experience with accidents and terrible injuries has caused me to be overprotective in some areas. Almost any time my kids wanted to do something beyond stay home and play in the back yard, I would have some grim warning about a case I’d worked on. There were points when the kids told me they wished I wasn’t a lawyer. “All you think about is how we’re going to get hurt!” they accused me. They weren’t wrong, but I think I have worked to raise my kids to be cautious, recognize the dangers, and act smart. Though there have been occasions when I got a little intense with my fears, my wife, Liz, played a big role lawyer, danger lurks everywhere. After years of working on really

in keeping me in check. And I had enough self-awareness to realize when I was being an overly cautious freak. This has always been an internal struggle for me. I had to learn to accept the fact that there’s only so much control I have over a situation. Constantly dreading every worst-case scenario or nagging my kids about the risks isn’t healthy or helpful. Instead, I needed to give my kids the tools they needed to be safe and then step back. It’s not always easy. First of all, any parent knows that kids rarely want to listen when you give them good advice. I know I didn’t as a kid. When I would come home after working on a particularly disturbing case — like a crash that could have been avoided if someone hadn’t been texting or if the person had simply worn their seatbelt — I’d tell my kids about it, as a cautionary tale. “They weren’t wearing their seatbelt,” I’ve said on more than one occasion. “Can you believe that?” More often than not, when I told these stories, I could see their eyes start to glaze over, but I’d like to think something sunk in. In addition to these tales, I tried to train my son and daughter to be the best drivers they can be. I also got them reliable cars that prioritized safety. There’s a mentality out there that your first car should be a piece of junk, but I don’t agree. If you’re going to buy your kids a car (or help them financially with the cost), then as parents I believe we need to get them the safest car we can afford. I didn’t want my daughter to end up stranded somewhere I couldn’t help her or my son to get badly hurt because his car’s safety features were lacking.

So, I got them very decent vehicles and wrestled with the “Am I spoiling my kids?” guilt. That said, these cars came with incredibly strict rules. I made it clear that if they ever got a speeding ticket, the consequences were going to be severe, including, but not limited to, losing the car for a month. And if I ever suspected they had been driving while under the influence of anything, their car would be sold immediately. It didn’t matter if I would lose money or how inconvenient it would be on the family; they weren’t going to drive again until they could afford their own car. I think they knew I was serious. Fortunately, it’s never come to that. My kids are good drivers, and though there have been a few minor fender benders, it’s far from any of my worst fears. I love my children; they’re good kids, and I’m glad that my experiences as an attorney can help them stay safe … even if I get accused of being overprotective sometimes. –Len Spada

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