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How Do I Handle My Child and Winter Driving?

This and tips on holistic parenting in this week's Moms Talk Q&A.

Salem Patch invites you and your circle of friends to help build a community of support for mothers and their families right here in Salem.

Each week in Moms Talk, our Moms Council of experts and smart moms take your questions, give advice and share solutions.

Grab a cup of coffee and settle in to read this week's question. Below is how the Mom's Council answered, but we want to hear from you. Leave a comment in the comment box below and share your thoughts.

Question #1:

What tips do you have for parents of new drivers, especially this time of year when the weather is difficult? Is this a good time for driving school? How do you recommend parents help their kids become adept winter-weather drivers? Any other tips?

Kim Ayers: I hear from parents on both sides of the fence.  Here is my opinion — based on the experience of training approximately 4,000 teens in all types of weather, with all types of driving ability/skill level/nervousness.

In Massachusetts, all teens under age 18 are required to attend a driver ed program.  They have 12 hours of behind-the-wheel instruction with an instructor.

This may seem like a lot, but trust me, it isn't! The RMV requires parents to sign off stating that they have driven (practiced) another 40 hours with their teen.  In my...opinion, this is not enough!  Parents should add a zero to that number — maybe 400 hours.

Equate driving with any new skill.  Kids practice piano, sports, etc....for much more than the "required" time for driving, and this is life or death in many cases.

As for winter driving, teens must practice on a learner's permit for six  months before licensing.  The ones who scare me are the ones who get their permit in the spring, and license in the fall.  They've never had the opportunity to learn to navigate winter roads (and,of course, they would have had their driver's license for a couple of months by then, so they "know everything" [by the time winter rolls around").

My recommendation is to insist on winter driving lessons.  We have students (okay, parents) call us to add additional driving lessons during winter months for just this reason (even after a teen has been licensed).  

Once you've handled winter driving, the rest is a lot easier. We will cancel lessons if we feel roads are too dangerous, and hold lessons when we feel the benefit outweighs the risk. There is ALWAYS a risk to holding lessons in poor weather.

Our student could make a grave error.  Other drivers may slide into us.  But there is also risk in waiting until spring.  It's ultimately a parent's choice.

Question #2:


If parents are interested in holistic parenting, where can they start? Are there any books you recommend? Do you have any recommendations for parents raising kids in Salem who want to give a holistic lifestyle a shot?

Erin Cyr: I would send any parents interested in a more holistic lifestyle right over to . Unfortunately, I'm sure you've heard they are closing.  

The CGB lending library will have a new home at on Essex Street, and so that's where parents should go now.  First, I would recommend books by Dr. Sears.  There is a whole series.  The Sears way of parenting, which is also called Attachment Parenting, is based in what I consider to be holistic, and honors the child as a whole person who is worthy of lots of love and respect.

We also use natural and/or homeopathic medicines when possible; we cloth diaper to minimize our impact on the earth; and we question the "American Normative" of parenting.  We ask a lot of questions and do a lot of research before we make life-impacting decisions for our son. Whether it be questioning circumcision, or choosing to feed him local meat, we think about how each choice will affect Caedmon's [my son's] wholeness.  

Some of the choices we make are controversial, like practicing extended breastfeeding, but I feel that we make these choices after lots of careful thought and research and they are the best choices for our family.

In terms of Salem, I think that there are lots of opportunities for families to live more holistically.  The farmers' market is a huge opportunity for children to learn about food, and for older kids to learn about organics and the dirty dozen (the twelve foods to eat organic to avoid pesticide residue).  For the past two seasons, I have led a walk for local moms from my house to the market each week (about two miles roundtrip).  

Also, in Salem, there is a strong breastfeeding movement.  You may have noticed the breastfeeding stickers on businesses.  That's something definitely spearheaded by Jennie Cudmore from CGB.  Another great resource in Salem is in Pickering Wharf.  I have made lots of medicines and teas with their herbs.  

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About Our Moms:

Kim Ayers: Kim (Latinik) Ayers spent her first 18 years on Turner Street in Salem. She says she "fled quickly after high school, heading for 'greener pastures,' but years later, after living around the country and expecting [her] first child...realized that there's no place like home." She has been married for 17 years and lives in South Salem. She has 2 children. Her son,10, attends Horace Mann. Her daughter,12, attends Collins Middle School. Kim owns StreetSmart Drivers, Inc. in Salem, a driving school serving hundreds of Salem teens each year.

Erin Cyr: is a holistic health practitioner and Mumma to Caedmon (21 months). She loves living in Salem and all that it has to offer for young families. Erin's interests range from holistic and natural parenting to reviewing the places in Salem that cater to moms and families.

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