Learning to drive is a rite of passage for the modern teen. Now, when they pass the relevant birthday, all your child can think about is getting on the road and embracing the freedom that it offers to them. As their parents, it’s easy to get torn between two different ways of coping with this.
On one hand, it’s a good thing – at the very least, you’re going to be able to go back to just being a parent rather than a taxi driver! A sense of independence can do kids the world of good, help prepare them for the next stage in life, and give them an ability to come home more frequently when they go off to college.
On the other hand, that’s your baby, behind the wheel of a car! It’s going to be a testing time – and potentially, for more reasons than you might expect.
#1 – It’s Going To Be Expensive
Learning to drive is not a cheap business; in fact, it can be so expensive it leads to many families being forced to consider available financing options both for lessons and any eventual vehicle you might wish to buy for your child. Being ready for the financial toll is an important part of making sure you don’t overstretch your budget, which is why it’s a good idea to put a little money aside in advance of their birthday – so you have got something to fall back on.
#2 – You’re Going To Worry
You might think that in some ways, your child driving is not that different from them being out with friends or walking down the street. Then, the moment they step foot behind the wheel, you realize you have massively underestimated just how much it bothers you. There’s no doubt that crash statistics make for worrying reading, but remember, you have a level of influence here. If you emphasize the importance of safe driving and don’t let your child out unaccompanied until you’re sure they’ve grasped it, then you can avoid the biggest risks.
#3 – You’re Probably Going To Argue
Going out and allowing your learner child to drive is an important part of the learning process, but it’s definitely one that can test your patience. While you probably won’t get into the size of argument that every sitcom character who has ever gone through this does, the chances of you occasionally losing your temper with them – or vice versa – are extremely high. Try and ensure that after every lesson, no matter how good or bad it was, you take the time to hug and apologize for anything you said in a stressful moment.
#4 – It’s Going To Be Time Consuming
Taking your learner child out, as mentioned above, is going to take up far more time than you think. Chances are they will want to practice as often as possible, to the extent of even fabricating reasons why they just have to run out – and they might as well drive, right? Try and remember that all of these experiences behind the wheel – however unnecessary they feel in the moment – are adding up to the greater good, and ensuring your child is going to be more comfortable driving alone in future.
#5 – You Might Be Out Of Date
With all of the above said, it’s worth remembering that even though you can drive, it’s been awhile since you have been taught to drive properly. We all pick up bad habits when we have been driving for years, falling into laziness, forgetting the occasional signal. It’s well worth reading up on what the current acceptable standard is before you offer any advice to your child, because otherwise, you could be insisting they learn things that are years out of date or no longer relevant!
#6 – You Might Not Be A Great Teacher
Just because you can drive doesn’t mean you have got the patience or skills to teach someone else to do so. It can be tough to see someone struggling with a skill that you consider to be hugely basic, to the point where you feel constantly frustrated, and every time you drive together you’re getting into arguments. Sometimes, it’s healthier to just admit that you can’t help beyond encouragement, and let lessons take care of the rest.
It’s a tough process for sure, but at least now you should be some way prepared for the potholes and challenges along the way as your teen learns to drive. Good luck – to both of you!