Guest Blogger #718, Entry #1671, October 2, 2012
Driving may present your teen with his first real taste of independence, but it is an activity fraught with peril, especially for the inexperienced. For parents tasked with teaching a teen to drive (or at least practicing with him following classes with an instructor) the process can be nerve-wracking. Not only is it difficult to sit idly by in the passenger seat while your teen learns to operate a 2-ton motor vehicle, but you’ve got the added burden of worrying about the possible disasters he could be facing when he eventually gets behind the wheel and takes to the open road without you. Will he pose a danger to himself and others? Will he be one of the many teens that engage in drinking and driving, texting while driving, or distracted driving of another sort? Will he prove true to his demographic and get into (or worse, be the cause of) an automobile accident? You can’t watch his performance forever, but you can instill in him the lessons that will make him a safe and responsible driver. And here are a few tips to help you help your teen.
Teach your teen and give of your time
The first and best thing you can give your teen driver is your time. You can help him to study the driver’s manual for his practice test and frequently take him out on the roads to practice once he obtains his driver’s permit. Many parents are so frightened for their own safety and that of their teen that they avoid driving lessons like the plague. But in all honesty, you’re not doing anybody any favors with this attitude (and least of all yourself). When you take your teen out for regular practice runs you can teach him the right way to handle a vehicle, correct him when he makes mistakes, and over time, become a lot more comfortable with the idea of letting him take the car on his own.
This will boost your teen’s confidence on the road and prepare him for potentially dangerous or harmful situations. Remember that he doesn’t have the same knowledge you do, so it’s important that you, as the parent, pass on the wisdom of your own experience. In addition to making your teen a better driver, you can use these lessons to get more comfortable with the prospect of letting your child drive. When you watch him improve over time and see how well he observes the rules of the road, you won’t spend his first night out with the car biting your nails and pulling out your hair. Trust has to be earned, and the best way for your teen to build that trust is to practice with you until you’re satisfied that he’s ready to go it alone. But of course, you play a role in that equation by making yourself available.
Teaching your teen about car maintenance
Of course, you can prepare him in other ways, as well. For example, you could teach him simple repairs (changing a tire, checking the oil, etc.) that every driver should know. You and your teen can watch tutorials online or visit blogs that offer valuable tips in this arena (like autorepair.net). But you should also consider preparing him financially. Eventually he will have to shoulder the expense for his own vehicle, and it’s in his best interest to become aware of these costs sooner rather than later. Make it a condition of driving that he hold a job and pay for at least a portion of expenses, including loan payments (if applicable), insurance, registration, maintenance, and of course, gas. Driving is a privilege, and a pricy one at that; he needs to understand the fiscal responsibility involved.
For more family ideas on Stagetecture, click here.