Good day, everyone. Not sure how the end of the calendar year has crept up on once again. Thanksgiving and hectic–I mean holiday 😉 –season around the corner. Wow.
This is geared toward the parents of teens, in particular, those with driving permits or brand-new licenses.
Yes, we do hand kids the keys to a lethal weapon, don’t we now? But in the interest of letting go, this is a B-I-G piece of the package. Sooner or later, most children in our society benefit tremendously from that monster shift in independence. (Under the correct circumstances, parents do too. Trust me. They LOVE running errands when that DL is shiny-new.)
That, to me, is the parents’ role: prepare them to function independently in their worlds.
Any parent who’s made the lateral move from his/her vehicle’s command-post to the passenger side of the front seat knows the nail-biting experiences to which I refer. Being a second-son veteran of this coaching process, I can assure you it (usually) improves as the child’s experience improves.
Having said that, the most important defensive seed I can plant in my child’s mind is this: DON’T ASSUME THE OTHER DRIVER WILL STOP.
Forget who has the right of way. I can’t speak for other areas, but in my suburban neighborhood and surrounding towns (an urban and suburban mix) the STOP sign seems to have gone invisible.
I remember being taught to stop about five feet before the corner, and then slowly and carefully inch out into the intersection before making my move.
Around here, on a good day, a driver will approach the stop sign at full-speed and maybe come to a complete stop a good three-quarter of its length past the corner. Others just go through, especially when they’re turning right. (That left or straight through is even scarier. Just yesterday, Hubby was almost hit, when someone blew off the sign at a very busy 2-way-stop intersection a few blocks from our home.)
Another biggie I’ve come across with Younger Son: What does a yellow light mean?
I emailed this link to my current driver-in-the-making after one of those we’re-turning-the-car-around-right-this-second moments. He sped up at least 10 feet from the yellow light then hesitated before making a left turn against the red!!! (We went straight home from there. It took a few days, but my stubborn one finally acquiesced to: “Maybe I ran it.”) A little humor helps to illustrate the point, especially when dealing with know-it-all-teens—part of their developmental stage. (I wasn’t humbled out of my own-who-knows-more-than-moi-about-kids until I gave birth to this one in particular, after enduring 13 months of constant crying, but that’s a story for another day.)
Which brings me to the most important point: DON’T BE AFRAID TO IMPOSE LIMITS, especially relative to driving.
Hopefully, doing so has been part of the parenting process all along. There are no guarantees, but if children have been raised with the consistency of parent(s) setting and enforcing boundaries when the kiddies are little, the better the chances that older children will respect your say-so when they’re way too big for me to drag to their rooms, lol. And it’s not like I can jump from passenger to driver side either.
Have you started driving with your teens? What is the most important thing you want them to remember when you’re not there to guide them? What is scarier–driving with them, or them taking that monster machine on their own? Do you have any fingernails left?
Wishing all of you the best,