Dear God, She’s Driving: Surviving the Newly Licensed Driver

Posted on Jan 30, 2013 by 2 Comments
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?

photo credit: State Farm via photopin cc

Posted in: Parenting
Marye Audet

Marye Audet is an author, freelance writer, and editor. As a work at home mom she has a unique perspective that encompasses the overwhelming deadlines and commitments of the professional woman as well as the constantly changing needs of a homeschooling mom with a large family. She is the author of one cook book and the creator of Restless Chipotle Media, a network consisting of two food based blogs, a blog for “women of a certain age”, a video site on Youtube, and upcoming blog on kitchen decor, and downloadable eBooks. Marye also is a freelance writer, editor, and book reviewer.

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  • Penny W.

    We are only a few years away from this trama and I am not sure if I can cope with the thought of my baby in traffic. I can barely stand to let him get on the school bus! LOL! I think he will be a good driver, but the fear of the unknown other drivers has me more nervous than a cat in the dog pound.

  • State Farm

    Marye, thanks so much for sharing your personal experience as a mom of new drivers. I’m a mom, too, and I know how frightening it is. Faint,
    trembling and light-headed, I, like you, turned the job over to my
    husband! Now I work at State Farm, and my full time job is
    helping to make our roads safer for teens and all drivers. We know from research that only 40% of parents feel ready for the task of teaching their teenager to drive. That’s why State Farm developed free, step-by-step interactive tools for parents and teens to use as they go through the learning-to-drive process. They can be found at Thanks for bringing attention to this issue that so many parents face, and please feel free to use me as a resource about teen driving and auto safety.

    Vicki Harper
    State Farm