Taking the passenger seat to help your 15-year-old practice driving is one of the most anxiety-inducing moments in motherhood. But as Circle of Moms member Laura S. shares, it's second only to the scare you experience when your 16-year-old finally gets his driver's license and starts driving alone!
The good news, as many moms who've been through it share, is that this rite of passage is survivable. Here, their best tips for keeping your sanity as your teen gets behind the wheel.
1. Limit Passengers
Limiting passengers to immediate adult family members while your teen is learning to drive will help her maintain focus. In Utah, where Circle of Moms member Jennifer B. lives, kids are able to get a learner's permit at 15 1/2 but then have to take a driver's education course and drive at least 40 hours with a guardian before they can get a driver's license. Then, even after they have a license, they can't drive with anyone in the car except immediate family members until the age of 16 1/2. Jennifer says that this rule helped ease much of her worry.
2. Practice Makes Perfect
The best way to gain confidence in your teen's driving is to know that you've helped her practice — a lot! As Jackie T. explains, "My advice to parents out there who have a teen about to get their driver's license, is let them drive as much as possible with you in the car. If it is raining, let them drive. If it is snowing let them drive. If it is foggy, let them drive."
Your child's 16th birthday is typically the entry ticket to driver's education classes at the high school or through a private company, but several Circle of Moms members say they prefer to be in charge of the training themselves to ensure their children have plentiful practice opportunities. Melissa O. and her husband "decided to do it ourselves" instead of letting their 16-year-old daughter take driver's ed. "This way we are in more control and can watch her progress. I was shocked to learn how quickly they let them out on the road in these classes. What's the rush?! We've been instructing her over the past year. A little bit at a time, at her own pace. I feel like she will be more than ready when she's done with our parent-taught class."
3. Patience, Patience, Patience
It may seem obvious, but you may need to keep reminding yourself to be patient. As Jane M. shares, driving is "a hugely serious endeavor," and you should expect your kids to "make a ton of common sense mistakes when learning because quite frankly . . . they've never done it before."
4. Head to Country Roads
The best way to give your teen experience is to take her to quiet roads and empty parking lots where she can build confidence operating and driving a vehicle without having to also worry about dealing with traffic. Krystel R. suggests "back country roads that don't have a lot of people on them."
5. Focus on the Benefits
There are certain advantages that come to moms when their teens can drive, and focusing on them is a good way to conquer the worries. As says Angie B. shares, "I look forward to not driving him to 6 a.m. basketball practice or 7 a.m. jazz band or picking him up at midnight after getting back from long trips."
6. Explain the Consequences
It's important to explain the life-changing consequences of unsafe driving to a teen who is taking on this responsibility. If them seem unable to relate to your concerns about hurting themselves or others, try another tactic. Angie B.'s son responds to dollars and sense: "He knows that if he does anything to bring his insurance bills up he will be paying the difference. He also knows that if I see him driving in an unsafe manner (and I'm out running around a lot) I will take his license and his truck keys away from him." Circle of Moms member Michelle has resorted to "using some mom guilt" on her son: "In all the discussion leading up to his driver's test, I told him several times to think of what it would do to me if something happened to him as a result of him having done something stupid while driving."
7. Establish the Rules Early
Teens will be teens and a car gives them a new sense of freedom, which is exactly why you need to set the rules early in the game. "My daughter has a contract of rules that we put together as a team and she follows it to the letter," says Patti H. "I also make her call me whenever she gets to her location."
What helped you stay sane when your teen was learning to drive?
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.