If you’ve been convicted of a DUII or are entering Oregon’s DUI Diversion Program, you may need to install an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) on your vehicle. An IID is a device that is wired to your car’s ignition that requires a breath sample prior to starting the ignition. If the IID detects alcohol on your breath, the engine will not start. Additionally, the device requires periodic samples as you drive to be sure that the driver’s breath sample doesn’t exceed a certain limit.
It can be an awkward moment for parents when their kids ask about the IID that has been installed in their family vehicle. Being ready with a response that feels good will help you feel confident when the tough questions come up.
#1 – Let your child take the lead. Many kids won’t even notice that an IID has been installed so don’t feel you have to bring up the issue before a child is curious about it. If a child does ask, it means they have noticed and are ready for more information.
#2 – Tailor your response to your child. Make sure your answers are at a level your child can understand. This means short and sweet for younger kids and possibly more complex answers for older kids. Remember, the goal here is to explain something new in the child’s life, not excuse, defend or even explain everything about your DUI arrest.
#3 – Start with the big picture. A good first response to a child’s question about an IID explains what it is in a big picture way. You might say, “This is a safety device that helps make sure we’re extra safe in the car.” Sometimes that’s all a child needs or they may want to see how it works and want to watch you use it.
#4 – Follow up questions. Some children may ask more about the IID like, “Why do we have one but no one else I know does?” or “Why do we have one now, it’s never been there before?” For younger kids it may be a simple response like: “I made a mistake and this is helping me learn from that mistake.” Older kids may want more information about what that mistake was.
#5 – How honest are you ready to be? Kids have amazing radar and can sense when parents are not being honest with them. While it may be difficult, this tough moment is a great opportunity to model honesty for your kids. For younger kids it might mean saying “I made an unsafe decision about driving.” For older kids, it might mean explaining that you drank alcohol before driving. The IID helps make sure this doesn’t happen again. This is a moment to help kids understand that parents are human too and make mistakes. The key is that you are learning from that mistake.
Most important – Listen. It can be tough hearing a beloved parent has done something that is unsafe. Let your child express how they feel about this. Validate that it’s okay to feel as they do. Reassure them that you are taking care of this as you need to.
Above all, trust your instincts as a parent. You know your child best and will have the best perspective on what you think they can understand and what you want them to know. Following your child’s lead, tailoring your answers to their level and being as honest as you can be are guideposts to consider as you decide what you want to tell them.
At Reynolds Defense Firm, we understand that a DUI arrest can have an impact on your whole family. We are here to help you succeed both in the courtroom and in life. If you or someone you care about is facing DUI charges in Oregon, call us today (503)223-3422.
Written By Derica Waller, MSW, LCSW, LICSW
Derica Waller has been a coach and therapist for over 20 years. She is a master level therapist, and is one of Reynolds Defense Firm’s Window of Clarity Coaches. Derica is also our Window of Clarity Coordinator. She sees her role as helping clients to manage life’s challenges with her clinical expertise and compassionate support. Window of Clarity is a scientifically validated program and helps others take charge of their lives by making positive, lasting changes. For more about Derica and the Window of Clarity Program, visit www.windowofclarity.com.