High School can be hard on both students and parents. The schedule demands of today’s teens will have them pulled in every direction. Sure, it may seem easy to have a friend drive your son or daughter to practice or rehearsal. But is it the best decision? Set your house rules for driving now. Even if you don't have a licensed driver, even if you are the parent of a freshman that is only 14, set the standards for your home.
THAT 16TH BIRTHDAY
When your child is born it's a moment so filled with joy and excitement that words cannot even begin to express. You fall in love instantly and make it your life's work to instill the importance of kindness, love, responsibility and independence. You watch them grow and slowly, with each passing day they become more independent. The first time you let go of their hand so that they may take their first step you hold your breath hoping that they don't fall while also relishing this milestone. Life is full of such moments. From the first step, to the first day at school, to their first sleep over. Each comes with a sense of pride in the independent young life you have helped to shape. Then comes their 16th birthday...
A moment you knew would come and you've mentally prepared for, but now that it's here you wonder how you will ever let them drive off on their own. Well, you start by providing them with the best drivers ed course you can find. Next, you reevaluate your own driving habits and hope that they've forgotten about that yellow light they watched you accelerate through and that time you yelled at the person who cut you off in traffic. Your next step, if you have the means, is to provide them with instruction from a driving professional. Then you let them drive you everywhere you go together, EVERYWHERE, until and even after they test for their license. Sun, rain, fog, snow - yes even snow, let them drive in it all! The more experience they have behind the wheel with an adult in the car, the more prepared they will be for real life, independent driving.
The first time you watch them drive off will be a moment filled with pride and apprehension. I remember standing by the window awaiting the return of my eldest the first time she ventured out on her own. "Text me when you get where you are going. But not until the car is parked!" I can't imagine how my parents survived their 6 children driving off when back then there were no cell phones. They only got a call if something went wrong. The no news is good news era. My how things have changed. Simpler times. Fewer distractions.
Today we must contend with a wide variety of distractions. There are so many electronics meant to make our lives easier that could also easily end it in a blink of an eye if not used appropriately and responsibly. It is our role as the parent to be a good role model and never do anything while driving that we wouldn't want our child to do. It is our responsibility to set the rules and ensure that they are followed. It is our job to keep them safe.
YOUR OWN LAW: PARENTING A TEEN DRIVER
- Not allowed to be a passenger until the driver has had their license for at least one year!
- Not allowed to drive with any teenager after 11pm (Including weekends!)
- Give an emergency $20 and program a nearby cab company into their cell phone (or download Uber.)
- Make yourself available when possible to drive your teen where they need or want to go. If you make asking you for a ride stressful, your son or daughter is more likely to make other, unsafe arrangements.
- NEVER get in a car with someone that is intoxicated, no matter their age.
- Follow all of the State Driving Laws.
- Do not encourage or allow your teen to drive with passengers.
- Set a specific ringtone and text tone for each parent and sibling. If that tone rings, your teen is to get somewhere safe and respond or call back. Other than that ring tone, the cell phone is not to be looked at, thought about and certainly not used while driving!
Now that you have the tools to help your new teen driver or a soon to be teen driver, just relax! The more reinforcement of the laws and safety regulations, as well as proper driving techniques, that your teen has, the better!
Ready to get your teen on the road?