One of the hardest things most parents will ever have to do is get in the passenger seat of a vehicle
while their teenage drivers are behind the wheel. It’s not only fairly disconcerting to put your life in
the hands of your child, but a license to drive is a sure sign that your kids are growing up, which can be
a little depressing. Of course, there’s also the fact that the moment your teens are out of sight, all the
lessons they learned will go out the window as the overpowering freedom of transportation (or peer
pressure) causes them to act in an irresponsible manner. And unless these antics result in an accident,
you’ll be none the wiser. Yikes – that’s a big ball of worry you’re carrying around. All you can really do
(short of making them wait until they move out) is do your best to prepare them for driving, even before
they get behind a wheel.
So where should you start? In all honesty, your preparations for this momentous day will start when
your children are first born. Teaching your kids to act responsibly, follow the rules, and respect
authority from a young age is the best thing you can do to ensure that they see driving as a privilege, not
a right, that they respect the rules of the road, and that they understand the consequences of a failure
to comply with the law. You can also take steps to get them familiar with automobiles.
When your kids enter their teenage years and the date of their licensure looms, it’s time to step it up
a notch and focus your efforts on helping them to understand driving laws, traffic norms for your area,
and the great responsibility that comes with operating a moving vehicle (as well as the potential they
have to cause harm should they behave in a manner inconsistent with the law). And you should make
them earn the privilege of driving in a couple of ways.
First, your teens should have jobs before they ever drive a car. They need to pay for at least a portion
of the expense of a vehicle so they understand that it doesn’t come for free. This is actually a kindness.
One day soon your teens will have to live in the real world, and there are no free passes there. They
need to understand that every privilege comes with a cost. As a second condition of driving, you may
want to require that teens keep their grades up. This is both practical (in that good grades can bring a
discount on insurance) and sensible (driving is a great incentive to study).
You may also want to make sure that your teens have a basic understanding of how a car works
and how to do some rudimentary checks and repairs. It’s not as though you have to train them to
disassemble and reassemble used Suzuki engines before you allow them driving privileges, but they
should know a few basics like how to fill the gas tank, check the oil, and change a tire, for example. And
familiarizing them with the inner workings of an engine when they’re young (having them help with oil
changes, brake bleeding, and so on) will only help them as they learn to drive and grow into adults.