Well, you have made it 15 years! You have made it through sleepless nights and acid reflux, the terrible twos, and potty training, and you even made it through those crazy pre-teens with all the eye-rolling. It’s time to teach your teen to drive! You can do this!
Teaching Your Teen to Drive
A Few Things to Think About
It’s a little different out there than when you and I learned to drive. Phones can go anywhere, not just in your house; and not only can they go anywhere, they can do anything — seriously, anything! Those rules need to be set first. Where does the phone go in the car? When do you use the phone? Set the ground rules and then go from there.
Another thing . . . WHO is in the car? Figure out who is allowed to ride with your child before they do anything else. This is sometimes awkward because you may not want their crazy best friend distracting them, but if you set rules early, it avoids simple distractions and awkward conversations.
It Is Time to Drive
Which parent is calmer and works well with that particular child? It may be best for the parent that communicates with that child the best to teach them how to drive. Communication is very important in this process.
It is okay if they are not ready. You are the parent. If the child is 15 and jumps in the front seat ready to learn, BUT you do not think they are ready, it is okay to wait a little bit. Their lives depend on being ready, and you may be a better judge of that than they are. Also, along the same lines, even if they have practiced for a whole year, they do not have to go get their license right when they turn 16. Waiting is hard, but it is not wrong, and it could be the best thing for your child.
GRACE upon grace will need to be given! No question is stupid. Start simple — the left pedal is the brake, and the right pedal is the gas. “R” is for Reverse. These things we take for granted are completely new to them. Make sure they know how to adjust the seats and turn on the wipers and lights before it rains. They will make a mistake — in fact, they will make multiple mistakes — but your job is to train them and love them.
I do not want to put out scary statistics. (You can look at those on your own.) Your teen will probably have an accident. They will “bump” something, they will hit the wrong pedal, they will get distracted. The most common occurrence of this is when other teens are in the car. Many times cell phones are involved. The truth is, our teens need to make wise choices, and the harder truth is, their brains are still developing. We, as parents, need to guide them, with grace, to think through scenarios. Talk them through how to say “NO!” Talk them through how to tell their friends they are riding on their own or they have to be home by curfew. You would jump in front of a train for your child, so why not take the few minutes to have these “not so fun” conversations?
In all honesty, this is not easy. There is nothing easy about these moments. You are not alone. Talk to your friends who went before you. Talk to the parents of your teen’s friends. You, as a parent/guardian need to make wise choices on behalf of your teen, even when the choices are hard.