Too-soft mums 'put sons at risk'
Controversial social commentator Celia Lashlie has lashed out at mothers who mollycoddle their sons, saying many teenage boys are killed on the roads because their mums smother them and refuse to let them discover the consequences of their own actions.
Speaking to a Traffic Institute conference in Hamilton yesterday, the former prison officer turned author admonished wealthy, so-called "helicopter mums", who "hover" over their sons, refusing to accept they can be blamed for anything.
"I am saddened by how many boys we lose," she said.
"Part of the reason, I think, why we have the carnage we have on our roads is because the first time he gets freedom from his mother is when he buys a car.
"And suddenly he starts to practise his decision making and he runs the orange light and a truck is coming the other way."
Society needs to care enough about boys to say no, she said.
"There is a saying: One boy equals one brain and two boys equal half a brain.
The Transport Ministry classifies young males as high-risk drivers, who make up 25 per cent of all at-fault drivers in fatal and serious injury crashes.
The problem is that some mothers refuse to allow their sons to learn about actions and consequences, she said.
"I am concerned that in the modern world mothers have a tremendous amount of say."
Mrs Lashlie believes the problem is worst in the middle and upper classes, where wealthy women who often do not need to work, are too heavily involved in their sons' life.
"One of the biggest damagers to us is that in my view is the parenting we are doing on our teenage boys.
"Mothers who go into schools and tell the school they are wrong for disciplining their son. We have to allow them to live with their consequences."
Mrs Lashlie said shock-horror campaigns to stop road accidents did not work because teenage boys had a `it won't happen to me' mentality.
She has a pretty good idea of the type of campaign she wants to see.
"It's a simple ad: Mothers, stop making their lunches.
"Mothers, stop picking up their laundry," she said.
Inspector Leo Tooman, Waikato road policing manager, agrees.
"Every mum thinks their son is a good boy. The reality is that they are not all good boys. My philosophy is that we try to keep them alive until they are 25 and then they are on their own."
Mothers were often unaware of the significance of their sons' actions.
"Sometimes there is a vehicle that we impound and the next minute mum is down there, appealing the impounding." But Mrs Lashlie says her message is not intended to be "mum-bashing".
Mothers need the courage and conviction to stand up and say `no' to their sons, she said.