Dear God, She’s Driving: Surviving the Newly Licensed Driver
It is no secret at all in our home that Mom does not teach driving skills, help practice driving skills, or ride in vehicles with those that are in the process of learning those skills.
I can handle stitches, breakups, and sex talks, but letting my teens drive with a driver’s permit gives me a special kind of hyper-stress that I cannot control – not even with vodka.
My dad practiced with my oldest two. He was in his 70s at the time and he said he probably didn’t have a lot of time left, anyway. Besides, it kept his heart pumping.
My ex-husband was the designated passenger when son number three got behind the wheel. The one and only time that I drove with him, I was shaking before we were three feet out of the driveway.
At the first turn, less than an eighth of a mile away, I was screaming frantically, “Turn the wheel! Turn the wheel! Turn the damn wheel!”
Child number four was completely parent taught by husband number two, a man who is obviously courageous in the face of oncoming traffic, a man who truly must not fear death.
That brings me to child number five, currently learning to drive with the help of her very patient, very brave stepfather.
There are as many different ways to cope with your newly licensed driver as there are people. I cope by staying as far away from the passenger seat as possible.
This keeps me relatively sane and ensures that my screaming does not disturb the neighbors or cause my children long term emotional trauma. It is a good method.
My husband, bless his heart as we say in the South, picks up the slack and allows himself to be chauffeured as much as is necessary to get in the required time behind the wheel.
Curb scraped tires, hair raising turns, and rapid braking are all a part of his day. He is good natured about it, although he did mention that he was considering a portable defibrillator on the next drive with child number five.
You know, just in case.
Once the teen has a license, there are a whole new set of stresses to get used to. These can sometimes be handled with large amounts of alcohol, but the better choice is to take a deep breath and be objective.
In Texas, a new driver under the age of 18 can’t have more than one other person in the car that is not a family member. This is in effect for six months after they get their license.
I think it is a good idea because if you get three kids in a car, there is bound to be some showing off and other antics happening. I think it is wise whether or not your state requires it.
Take it slow. Don’t let him head off for a concert the week after he passes his driver’s test. Send him on short errands around town until he gets a good feel for being behind the wheel of a car.
Pray. Maybe you are atheist or something, in which case I don’t know how you cope. Personally, I still pray over my kids when they are away from home. It helps me to relax and feel less anxious.
Don’t hand out freedom too fast. Set limits and strict rules about where and when they can go somewhere.
Good driving is all about practice and responsibility, with a sprinkle of good luck. As your new driver gains more confidence you will, too.
What are your tips for surviving teen drivers?