Within weeks of each other, two of my children, ages 19 and 16, received their driver’s licenses. The past year has been full of stress whenever I have gotten in the car with them. There were several arguments regarding who was going to drive. One child needed experience, while the other needed experience and needed to fulfill state-mandated driving hours. My oldest child decided to wait until she was 19 to obtain her license. Some of her reasons included not wanting to have to take the time to go do them, the cost of the driving classes and frankly, she enjoyed having her dad and me take her to the places she needed to go. It was stress free for her. She didn’t have the fear of someone hitting her. She didn’t have to worry about being stranded in the car if something had happened to it. My daughter then went off to college. She decided it was time to get her driver’s license so she didn’t have to rely on others to take her places.
On the reverse side, my 16 year old couldn’t wait to get her license. She wanted that freedom early on. She wanted to drive herself to school, activities, work and to friend’s houses. She was determined to get through driver’s education classes quickly and get her license as soon as she could after she turned 16.
Having two drivers caused double the stress. I am not one to give up control of a motor vehicle easily. I want to be able to make the decisions on when to turn, how fast to go and when to press the brake pedal.
Here are a few suggestions to help deal with the stress of having a new and inexperienced motorist in your house.
- Make sure your child takes driver’s education. I have had both a child who took it and one that didn’t. I believe the value of the classes and driving experience with someone other than a parent is paramount to increase their driving abilities.
- Start slow. Let them drive in parking lots first. After that, take them on back roads. Main roads will come next, then freeways. Refer back to driver’s education. One plus, at least where I live, is that they must drive freeway and drive downtown. Having someone other than the parent is good for the child’s initial experience of driving in fast-paced traffic and congested areas.
- Take a deep breath and relax. They have to learn sometime. By giving your child as many opportunities to drive, you are enhancing their driving experience.
- It is ok to hold on tight to the door handle. It is a natural reaction. Over time, the tightness of your grip will ease up, I promise.
- When you press the imaginary brake on the passenger side, and your child notices, that is ok, too. Just let them know you were trying to help them out. That too will stop in time.
- When you arrive safely at your destination, sit for a few minutes, take a deep breath and decompress.
- Lastly, make sure you tell your child what needs improvement. Also tell them what was awesome. They will appreciate both the negative and positive feedback.
Letting go is often difficult. You won’t be able to hold on to your child forever. Let them grow up. Smile at them knowing you have raised them to be responsible young adults. Driving is just another milestone in your teen’s life. Just wait until graduation and moving off to college!