Vroom. Vroom. The day that your little baby is legally permitted to operate a weapon of mass destruction that we commonly call a car should be marked in some solemn ceremony. In May, I took my oldest child to get his driver’s permit. After an hour and a half in line at the crowded and disorganized DMV, we were reminded that birth certificate copies were unacceptable and we would have to come back.
Since I can’t even seem to get the paperwork right to move towards this day, I’ll rely on Kendall to give us the wisdom!
Kendall’s top pointers on having a teen driver:
1. Be careful who the car belongs to.
If the car belongs to you, you will have more control of it. If your teen “owns” the car, they become resentful if you take the keys away. If you own the car and they must prove they are trustworthy to use your car, this gives you a very valuable commodity in requiring good behavior. This is a huge incentive for a young person!!! We told all our children they would have to earn the right to drive and keep on earning it as long as we owned the car.
When a teen owns anything the relationship between them and the object changes. In their mind they feel complete control over whatever they own, so be careful of what you allow them to pay for. Think of yourself. When you pay for something, you don’t want someone else telling you how or when you can use it. Your teen will feel the same about a car they own.
2. Make them invest.
Even if you don’t want them to own the car, there are still many ways to have your child contribute towards the cost of this privilege. For example:
• they can pay you a car note which gives them complete ownership when they go to college;
• you can require that they pay the insurance, gas, or car maintenance. This is their part of being able to use your car.
3. Whatever you allow once becomes an open door.
Give driving freedom at your own discretion, depending on your comfort level with their trustworthiness and ability.
We did not allow our girls the freedom we gave our boys because of safety issues.
4. Set specific and clear expectations.
• Who can ride? As parents, you are the ones responsible for the safety of anyone who rides with your teen. Be selective of who rides in your car.
• Answering my call? “When using our car, if we call you, you must pull over ASAP and answer our call. No exceptions.”
• Change in plans? You need to know where they are going and when. If plans change you must be notified.
• Privacy? A Phone GPS or one on the car is great and not an infringement on their privacy. There is no privacy when they have your car. You do not give your valuables to others to be used at their discretion.
While every family may approach these specifics differently, the most important thing is to have a parent-established plan and expectations set before you allow them to borrow your keys. I hope Kendall’s wisdom will stir some good conversation for those of you who have soon-to-be drivers like I do!