Who’s the PARENT in the Car – You or Your Child?

It’s puzzling and disheartening to witness a parent who allows their child to control their actions in the car instead of driving in a safe and productive manner. An automobile should be given the proper respect since driving is severely more dangerous than other common forms of travel. A parent should be controlling the situation in the car otherwise the child becomes the parent.

I’ve seen a variety of unwise and/or unsafe actions as a driver being irritated by a stressed parent or as a passenger bewildered by a parent more concerned about the temperament of a child than driving safely.

Below is a small taste of my experience:

--As a driver, I’ve been asked to hurry or speed up in order for a child not to fall asleep. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing! Of course I ignored the request and replied to the parent, “Safety comes first in my car not the actions of a child or any other passenger”. This parent probably has an unsafe driving manner most of the time.

--I’ve been in vehicles as a passenger when a parent has reached (often with eyes off the road) for an object or toy in order to calm an unhappy child or been distracted by a screaming child. Why don’t we ever think of stopping in these situations? These actions are two of many reasons why I rarely ride as a passenger.

--The children I’ve seen in a rear facing infant/child seat in the FRONT (not uncommon in Sweden) are an obvious distraction.  The parents have them there for a number of reasons with the central theme being that it’s EASIER for the parent to tend to their needs. Driving safely should be the main concern in a car NOT the temporary neediness of a child.

In my opinion (many experts agree), children should be in the back seat so they become less of a distraction. In addition, if there is an accident, a child is safer in the back seat.

Parents, I implore you to change your behaviour if you can see yourself in any of the previous scenario’s described or any similar situation. Our job as parents is to protect our children and most of us do it rather well. Why should the car be any different especially as dangerous as driving is?

When I drive with my children, there is only one philosophy I follow:

I drive safely and defensively - My eyes are on the road - I am ALWAYS aware of my surroundings.

My children will never be in the front seat of a car until they are of the proper age to safely be there. Do they become irritated or whiny sometimes in the back of the car? Of course but it is rare because they know that the temporary neediness I mentioned previously will have to wait until dad gets to his destination. Do they ever become a distraction that could prevent me from driving safely? Never.

Actually, I drive the same way whether I am alone, with friends or have children in the car. I want to be as safe as possible and I am in the right country as Sweden is one of the safest for drivers (despite the aforementioned parental risks) in the world even though 420 people died on the road in 2008 – a low number for a country of 9 million.

Sweden's roads are among the safest in the world thanks to a national passion for safety and a hunger for innovation. This dates back to 1959, when Volvo became the first car maker in the world to fit three-point seatbelts as standard.

In America, the news wasn’t so positive in 2005 – the deaths were almost 44,000.

Some 43,443 people were killed on the highways last year, up 1.4 percent from 42,836 in 2004, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Tuesday. It was the highest number in a single year since 1990, when 44,599 people were killed.

Fortunately, your chances of being killed on the road are low despite the presence of unsafe drivers. Unfortunately, many people don’t think a deadly accident will happen to them so they take risks despite having their precious children in the car.

Having driven an immense number of miles during the last thirty years in America and Sweden has given me the ultimate respect for the road. In addition, I have seen far too many “near accidents” where often the presence of lady luck saved a potentially horrible tragedy.

If you don’t have a genuine respect for the road, maybe this article will serve as inspiration for you to at least show more patience and make some improvements in your driving style. If not, the next trip in the car could be the last for you and those you cherish.

Remember, You’re the Parent.
(The title of my 2009 article which is worth reading, link is below)


Happy Gswede Sunday!

I'm excited about the 6th year of my "American Basketball Coach in Sweden" Program! This picture from 2009 shows Coach Steve working with a group of youth in Sweden.  (www.Gswede.blogspot.com)

2nd Anniversary of Gswede Sunday

Today marks the 2nd Anniversary of my weekly blog - a passion that elevates my soul on a daily basis. It's exciting and inspiring to know that I have so many interested and loyal readers, particularly with the plethora of "written word" options available.

Like many of you, I LOVE to read. It could be a book, newspaper, magazine, blog, online news or a host of other interesting options.

With a busy job, wife, two children and numerous personal endeavors, what I find challenging is deciding what I will read every day. My ideal morning would begin with one undisturbed hour of reading. It happens occasionally yet more often than not, I set aside 60 minutes (almost never consecutively) throughout the day devoted to reading. I need that jolt of information to stay on top of current events and maintain my well-rounded knowledge.

My 5 main staples are a Swedish Newspaper, 2 news websites and 2 financial web-links. It's a part of my "Me Time" that I simply cannot do without. In addition, I often send an important article that I don't have time to read to my email inbox for future use. For traveling, I have a printed article (usually over 10 pages) handy for the train or airplane. I've also read hundred of books in the last 5 years and typically have one with me when I am outside of the house.

My love for reading started at an early age and blossomed in my collegiate years as an English major. My creative writing course in college was my first writing inspiration although I didn't act on my passion for putting pen to paper until much later in life. Maybe the writing path should have been followed as I was the only person to get an A in the course - something the professor proudly pointed out to me. Well, better late than never.

In our world of information and technology overload, our written word choices are abundant and will only expand in years to come. It will be increasingly important to focus on what one likes to read by giving the appropriate "Me Time" towards it. I have seen people forget or lose their passion for reading due to a life where "To Do's" take over and personal pleasures take a back seat. For those who find themselves in that position, I implore you to slow down and get back to basics with your reading.

Knowledge is one of the most vital elements in life and without consistent and diverse reading, opportunities for success could be elusive or at the very least limited.

As I begin my 3rd year of Gswede Sunday, topics are percolating in my head and I can't wait to share them with you! Occasionally, my readers ask if I ever have trouble finding a weekly topic - a question I love to answer. I tell them that I have years of potential subjects written down.

Thank you for choosing the Gswede Sunday option in our world of endless and creative reading possibilities. Your dedication to my blog is heartwarming and appreciated.

Finally, three points for encouragement:

1) Keep Reading

2) Encourage others to read especially our youth

3) If you don't read consistently, try to be more dedicated if only for 10 minutes a day

Happy Gswede Sunday!

The magnificence of winter snow in Skåne (southern Sweden)! My friend Fredrik took this lovely picture.

The High End of Irresponsibility

I was shocked by the behavior I read about last week in the sports world and it's difficult to shock me. I've read about athletes displaying similar behavior in the past yet never thought I would see this type of irresponsibility occurring in 2010.

Below is the beginning of an article (and the link) about a 25 year old athlete caught in a tangled web of women and children:
After fathering seven children by six women in five states, you'd think Antonio Cromartie would have trouble finding a new partner.

The New York Jets not only have a crush on Cromartie, they'll pay to help his bygones be bygones. You don't have to be Dr. Laura to shriek the obvious question:

What are you thinking?"

We're working with Antonio to give him the best chance to be successful," Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum said.

What they're doing is having unprotected football sex. Unable to sign Tiger Woods, the Jets traded a third-round pick to San Diego for Cromartie. They not only got a cornerback, they got all the baggage that comes with being one tryst short of an Octo-dad.

That includes paternity-payment bills so large that Cromartie needed a $500,000 advance. All those mothers apparently couldn't wait until his first paycheck in September to buy baby formula.

That gets to the real worry for Jets fans. If a guy is that irresponsible with his flesh-and-blood, what's he going to be like with you?

Sure, general managers regularly invite players into their locker rooms whom they wouldn't let within 100 yards of their daughters. But no team has consummated the kind of relationship New York has with Cromartie.

He couldn't take care of his families on $1.7 million a year. What makes anyone think he's suddenly going to grow up?"

I made some wrong decisions in my first two years [in the league]," Cromartie said, "and I have to take on that responsibility.

"In other words, he's a changed man. Where have a billion women heard that before?

There's no need to delve into the mind of this troubled young man as the aforementioned behavior speaks for itself and is disturbing on many levels. One thing is certain - he needs help. In addition, The New York Jets have shown their true colors in that - a) Winning is priority number one and b) Character is second or lower. Would you trust a guy like him to be a critical part of your organization?

And let's not forget the message this story sends to our youth, especially those in sports who look up to their heroes on the the football field.

When I talk to or counsel youth, I always make a point to talk about Responsibility and Irresponsibility. I emphasize that one bad choice can send a life into an abyss of unimaginable proportions just as a good choice can make one's journey fly in that rarefied air above the clouds.

The dialogue never strays far from the article I wrote in 2008 called "Mistakes - Responsible or Irresponsible". Below is a portion of the article followed by the link:

A Responsible mistake = One has thought through the consequences of an action beforehand; knows the worst possible outcome and is willing to live with the decision. One's life still can be damaged severely but at least there was serious thought and contemplation about the action. This kind of mistake can always be respected.

An Irresponsible mistake = An action where one just "throws caution to the wind" and gets moved by the emotion of the situation without any regard to the consequences. Acting without thought. People do get lucky and survive this mistake but invariably lives get damaged when irresponsibility rears its ugly head.


To live a well-rounded, exciting and interesting life, one must take some risks and with that comes the growing pains of unwise choices in a variety of life areas including but not limited to relationships, money, jobs, children, health, friends and marriage.

In my opinion, the key to success is keeping the irresponsible choices few and far between along with having them near the low end of irresponsibility and not in the vicinity of the high end above.

The impact of our actions reverberate in more ways than we realize especially the actions of athletes being that their platform for influence is so wide. Let's hope that in another five years, we won't be reading about an athlete or anyone else displaying this kind of reckless and sad behavior.

Happy Gswede Sunday!

Winter 2007 in Stockolm, Sweden - Not as much snow as this winter although this day was magnificent!

Revisiting "Me Time"

My wife and I were having coffee in our home recently with a neighborhood couple when the subject of "Me Time" came up. I don't remember why the topic arose but I do remember the woman guest saying "I know I need to get more time for myself".

While it never surprises me that people don't prioritize "Me Time", it is frustrating to hear it time and time again, especially from couples with small children. After her comment, I looked at the couple and said, "Why don't you get more time for yourself? - Is there anything more important?" There were nods in agreement.

The woman and I have had subsequent conversations regarding "Me Time" and it's clear that she needs to have more of it in her life.

Below are a few paragraphs and the link from my 2009 article called "Master Your "Me Time":

In my opinion, there is no excuse to not get some form of “Me Time” in your life as YOU are the only thing holding you back. If something is passionate to you or important for you, you can find the time to do it. It may take baby steps in the beginning to kick start your engine along with the willingness to be consistent (crucial element).

In my experiences, people get held back from their passions due to a spouse, parent, job, TV, computer or a host of others things. A spouse should be encouraging their partner to get some “Me Time”! A job should not rule your life like it does for some of us. TV can be a relaxing tool although it is probably safe to say that most families watch too much of it.

No one can take away your “Me Time” unless you allow them to. All it takes is the courage to act and do some or more of the things you like. Remember, spending a little time on YOU will often make one a better parent, husband, worker or friend. A happier and healthier YOU will shine if you are bold enough to put yourself first. To get more time may require some feelings to be hurt or “putting your foot down” and demanding the time. Do not be fearful if more “Me Time” is something you need. If you don’t act, it’s YOU who will continue to suffer the consequences.


The aforementioned paragraphs touch on three ways to begin the mastering of "Me Time":

1) No excuses are allowed - If it's important to you, find a way to make it happen.

2) Don't let any person or situation hold you back - "To Do's" may have to wait - quality time for yourself should be a priority every week!

3) Courage to Act - I realize it's not easy to begin a life of mastering your "Me Time" although all it really takes is the courage to put yourself first. No "Me Time" on a consistent basis means that you are or will become less of the person that you desire to be.

Finally, a lesson from the friendly skies that should put the importance of "Me Time" into perspective.

In the event of an emergency while on an airplane, what are you supposed to do when the oxygen masks drop down and you are flying with a child?

a) Put the oxygen mask on the child first
b) Put the oxygen mask on yourself first

For those who don't prioritize your needs and "Me Time" you might tend to help the child first. It's a natural reaction but the wrong reaction.

For those who do value time for yourself, you probably know the correct answer of putting the oxygen mask on yourself BEFORE helping the child.


If you help the child first, you may become unconscious in the process thereby endangering both you and the child. If you help yourself first, you are in the best position to assist your child with his/her mask.


Feed your soul FIRST.

Give it the fuel (Me Time) you are most passionate about on a consistent basis - if only for 15 minutes a day. If you do that, your glow will heighten, life will be more enjoyable and the people around you will benefit immensely; much more so than someone who ONLY fuels their engine with doing for others, doing for a job or doing for things they don't like.

Happy Gswede Sunday!

Superman makes sure to get his "Me Time" - A shot from my Canadian friend Heather in Vancouver during the 2010 Olympics.