After living without my kiddos for what seems like forever, but in reality was perhaps only a couple of months, I’ve come to realize just how fast time goes. My firstborn turned 16 in October and with that wonderful age change, the reality of teen driving days arrived. Driver’s ed is super expensive, it’s $600 here to have your teen take this course so they can get their license before age 18. I had to hustle, scramble, and try to keep sanity at bay while working from home to make that extra cash. Driver’s ed was not that expensive back in my day, but hey, everything’s more expensive these days.
Now that I’m in these days of having a teenager who’s almost ready to get their license, I’m in this whole new world. I no longer have to drive, if I don’t want to! I simply tell my teenager I don’t want to drive and that child is happy to oblige by driving her Mama anywhere. Of course, it doesn’t go that smoothly every time. This child is a teenager and sometimes I get a “nope” or an eye roll. Thankfully I can find humor in those situations.
With all of this being said, how in the heck does a Mama embrace the teen driving days when their firstborn “baby” is ready to hit the road on their own? I’m not sure, I’m still experimenting with this fact. Since I’m a little clueless on how to embrace it, I decided to share a few tips for those of you venturing into this stage of parenthood.
5 Tips for Handling The Teen Driving Days
Don’t Argue with the Laws
I giggle at this tip because it comes from experience. In driver’s ed your teenager will learn the laws of the road. We have been driving much longer than our teenager, and some laws have changed. Well, I’m sure the whole “a stop sign means to come to a complete stop” hasn’t changed, but still, you know what I mean. My teenager has a fun time engaging me with the rules of the road, every time I’m driving. The most recent mishap was the teenager acknowledging that I don’t really ever come to a complete stop. I had no idea I had formed this habit in my 21 years of driving, but apparently, after arguing with my teenager about this, I realized – yup! I do what we like to call “a NH rolling stop” every single time. I’ve now learned to listen and not argue with the laws that my teenager is learning about driving.
Give Your Teen Practice
During our parent night for driver’s ed we were told that we have to get our teenager behind the wheel. It was highly advised that our teenager should be driving the family vehicle at all times. It makes sense since a teenager needs a specific number of hours in NH driving with a parent before they can get a NH driver’s license. My teen now needs just under 20 hours with a parent in the passenger seat before a license is had, even though there are just 4 hours left for driver’s ed driving. In NH we don’t need a permit to drive, once your child is 15 1/2 years of age they can drive a vehicle so as long as an adult of a specific age is in the passenger seat. The teen has to carry their birth certificate as a form of identification during this stage in driving. I’ve given my teen loads of practice lately because I dislike driving.
Be Sure They Don’t Get Easily Distracted
This is such an easy thing for us, I am a single mother household with three kids. My teenager is able to drive with my ADHD brain in the passenger seat and two little boys in the backseat who truly don’t understand how to be quiet when their sibling is driving. While this may sound scary to some parents, I’ve had three kids, the youngest is now 10 years of age, this means I don’t really get upset about things that aren’t worth the energy of being mad. The boys enjoy chatting, bickering and just being who they are no matter who’s driving. This means, I’ve been able to see my teenager experience distractions first hand and I have to say, I’m confident this child can stay focused on the road regardless of what’s going on inside of the vehicle.
Don’t Buy a Vehicle
Many parents enjoy buying their teenager’s first vehicle, or maybe it’s just what they do in their family, but I’m against this idea. When I was 16 years of age, people helped me out and I had family there for me, but I still had to purchase my first rig. Granted, my aunt and uncle sold me their 1989 Ford Taurus for less than their asking price to help me out, but I had to pay something for it. This is what I believe in, I believe in having my teenager pay for their first vehicle. I don’t mind the idea of lending money and having a payment plan for them to pay me back, but I will not give nor buy a vehicle outright for my teenager. I paid for most of driver’s ed, that’s my gift to the teenager. Reality is, I just don’t feel that buying my teen a vehicle* helps with the next step of childhood – being a responsible “almost adult” stage.
*Just to let you know, my teenager is getting a rig so to speak. My teen has been working on her Dad’s old Bronco with him and it will be owned by my teenager at some point in time. I feel that’s Dad’s decision, not mine, and in a way, my teenager working on this rig to get it road ready and safe for inspection is sort of like payment. I’m not even 100% sure what their deal is with that situation, to be honest.
Set Guidelines Now
Once your teenager has their own vehicle and is able to have more freedom to drive the roads on their own, it’s going to be tough. I am all about being proactive, so of course, I’ve been discussing some guidelines now and the teenager has asked about having a curfew. Even though my teenager is more of an introvert that prefers solitude over being insanely social, I think the idea of having a curfew just gives my teenager that “I’m almost an adult” feeling and so I’ll give a curfew when the time comes. I think it’s important to set guidelines now for your teen driver. Set forth the rules of the vehicle, curfews and any other guidelines that are important to you as a family and parental unit. Be certain these guidelines are written down and maybe even have your teenager sign a contract that you all have to abide by in order for your teenager to have keys to a vehicle.
You know these are just my 5 tips for handling teen driving days. Obviously, they are not set in stone nor rules to follow, as we all parent our teenagers in different ways. These tips are simply something that has worked for me, thus far. I’m still new to this stage in parenthood so it’s all trial and error. As I’ve told my firstborn 100 times, “you’re my firstborn child so everything with you is like a science experiment. I’m sorry that your brothers will get it easier.”
What are some tips you have for teen driving days? What worked for your family and teenager?