Are you ever really ready for your teen to start driving? The legal driving age in most states is 16 years old. This means by 15½ your child has their driving permit and they have control over the thousands of pounds of metal that you are a passenger in. Later on, they have complete control over the thousands of pounds of metal and you aren’t even there. Becoming comfortable with your teen driving is surely a process, taken one step at a time.
Most people would say starting to drive is a right of passage in our culture. It’s a first step toward independence, if you will. Is driving a right or a privilege? I think most teens may feel it is their right to drive a car and most parents may feel it is a privilege. Perhaps you feel this way if you’re paying for their gas, insurance and maybe even the car.
As they are approaching the age of driving, are you communicating with your teen? Are there certain expectations that must be met before you allow them the keys to the car? How are you planning on comfortably stepping into this new way of being?
Tips on making the transition easier:
~ Bring up the subject of driving with your teen before it’s time to get their permit. Be sure each of you is in a good mood and feeling relaxed.
~ Ask your teen what their desires are regarding driving? Do they feel ready, and why or why not?
~ Share with your teen whatever expectations and criteria you have of them that must be adhered to before they can drive with your blessing.
~ Pay attention to what your teen is saying about how their friends drive. You will be given clues as to how they view different modes of driving. For example: speeding, having friends in the car etc.
~ Ask your teen what their motivation is for wanting to drive? See how their answers feel to you?
~ Talk about and come to an agreement on who will be paying for what aspect of their driving. For example: gas, insurance, car maintenance, and the car itself.
~ Discuss your teens’ expectations regarding how often and under what circumstances they will use the car.
Good communication is important and things will come up later that you didn’t consider in your initial conversations. Tell your teen it’s an ongoing process and everyone must be willing to calmly discuss issues as they arise. Driving can often be an emotional process for both parent and teen.
Resist the temptation and knee jerk reaction to yell at your teen when they have their permit and it’s time to practice being on the road. This can be a stressful time for everyone as it’s important to practice trust and deep breathing. If you’re going to get in the car with your teen to practice driving, then you must make the choice to remain calm.
The day of independence does finally arrive. I remember how it felt the first time my eldest child drove away from our house alone in the car. I could tell she didn’t have a worry in the world, and seemed to feel perfectly comfortable with the whole scenario. This gave me some comfort, as I was slightly terrified. I wasn’t going to be there to make sure she was ok. (This is an illusion anyway…)
As the garage door closed behind her, I was left with a choice. I could spend the evening worried sick, praying fervently, or I could do this~ which is what I ultimately chose because it felt better. I chose to put my fear aside and remember I have faith in life’s processes. I have faith in her safety and that all is well. Worry is pointless and only perpetuates feeling bad, and doesn’t give you any more control over a situation than you had before.
The start of the teen driving years requires a leap of faith. A trust in your teen and the choices they will make. Will they always make the best choice? No they won’t, but isn’t this how we all learn to further clarify our highest choices?
Your trust will go a long way in how your teen feels about him or herself. Help your teen know you trust them and encourage them to tap into their Internal Guidance System when making their choices.