23 answers


My oldest just finished the first segment of driver's education. He now has to go to the Sec. of State to get his Level 1 drivers
permit. Whenever I want to go somewhere, he wants to drive. I let him, but whenever I am in the passenger seat, I am a nervous reck. He likes driving, but not with me, he says that I make him more nervous.
My husband takes him sometimes and he doesn't have a problem with him.
How can I relax when he is behind the wheel?
This is my first experience with this and it is making me very nervous.
I know it is normal to feel nervous about him learning to drive.........but I know it will continue well after he has
his drivers license.
Now I know how my parents felt when I was learning to drive, and how nervous that made them.
It scares me. And in about 1 1/2-2 years from now, I will be going thru it all over again with my second one.
How long does it take to somewhat 'get used to it' and not be as nervous about it?
Probably never, right?

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What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Hi, I just wanted to say THANK YOU to all of you that responded to my request about my son learning to drive.
I get very nervous as he is driving, but I have read what you all wrote, and will try to be more calm when riding in the car with
him. If I can't do this, then I will make my husband take him driving. I can only imagine what it is going to feel like when my younger son starts driving as well.
I really don't think that I will ever 'get used to it', but I will try to be more calm when my son is driving.
Again, I want to Thank you for your responses.

Featured Answers

You'll get used to it. The more practice he gets, the better he'll be and the more relaxed you'll get. My son makes me nervous sometimes, but he's gotten allot better. I like when he drives, less driving I have to do, lol. Just try to take a deep breath and try to relax. I promise, it will get better. :)

I am going thru the same thing, except my oldest just completed the second segment, and gets her licesne next month, I was so nervous I want to cry!! What I did was I let her drive with her dad until she got more comfortable behind the wheel, which made me feel better because she was more comfortable. Now I am still nervous but not as bad, I still have to tell her things or remind her, but I dont do it from the panic stricken state I was in before. It does get easier, for both of you. You will always be nervous and worried, thats part of being a mom. But just letting her drive with dad for a while, did wonders for my mental state!! I think my finger prints are forever imprinted in the handle grip on the passenger side door!

More Answers

I've gone through this with all four of my children now. No, you never really get used to it. I still point out the obvious to my eldest. It is hard to have to sit in the passenger seat and give up the controls. We all like to feel in control of our own destiny, and when you turn the car over to a teenager you feel like you are losing that control.
Try this: Have your child ride next to you, talking about the drive. They should describe the things happening around you as you go. They see the traffic light changing, so it's time to slow down or touch the brake, etc. They see a child in a yard with a ball, so it's time to prepare to brake if necessary. They see brake lights, someone on a bike, etc. etc. They should not be criticizing your driving, but just showing you that they are AWARE of their own surroundings.
Next, let them drive, with the condition that the first time they really scare you their turn behind the wheel is over for the day.
Repeat the process until you are ready to give them 3 strikes before they are OUT. (Meaning out of the driver's seat for the day.)
While they are driving, you can point out to them the things you see along the way, for your own peace of mind that they are then aware of the surroundings. Let them know that you will be doing this probably for the rest of their life so they might as well listen and not get defensive about it. They mustn't get an attitude and say "I know, Mom, I know, I know!"
Bad attitudes lead to bad driving, so they should just take it all from you patiently. Two pairs of drivers eyes are always better than one, and could save lives, so tell them to get over it and just let you stay in control as much as you can.
Try to relax, but only a little. Start now with the next one also pointing out the things along the drive. Never allow them to criticize the other driver, just learn awareness, because awareness saves lives.
Good Luck.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi M.,

My advice would be to let your husband do most of the training. I know you would like to be involved, but there are some things that you are better at coping with than your husband, and vice versa. Play on each others strengths. That's just my opinion. It would save you a ton of stress, and you can always cheer him on when he gets home. It's probably not helping either of you when you are stressed. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

How about if you have him talk through his driving? For instance , have him say, okay, I'm backing out of the garage, stopping before backing into the street, looking both ways for oncoming cars... As I proceed forward I am checking for the speed limit and making sure that I'm not speeding...Now I see an intersection ahead and I will watch to see if the light changes to yellow. If the light is still green I will still look both ways to make sure cars from the intersecting street are stopped, etc, before I proceed through.... I think you get the picture. Your nervousness probably comes from not knowing for sure that he is mentally focused on everything that is going on around him. This practice of saying out loud what he is thinking will also help cement in his mind good driving habits. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

play a game on your phone or read a magazine while you are in the car with him. You can still keep an eye on whats going on but it might calm you and him down a little.

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I am a driving instructor and a M., so I know how hard it can be to stay calm. Your son is correct in feeling more nervous because you are nervous. That is normal for him and for you. The more you can control your nervousness, the less nervous he will be driving with you. Easier said than done, sometimes! Here are some tips: Ask him to do some commentary driving. In areas of low traffic, ask him to tell you everything he is seeing and doing. Once you realize that he is seeing everything, that may help you relax. If you notice specific areas of concern, take him out specifically to work on those areas. Open the lines of communication and that may make you more comfortable with his driving abilities. Explain that your nervousness is your problem, not his and that may help too. Let him know that you are working to be more relaxed and by communicating more while he is driving this may help make you more relaxed. Hope this helps. Good luck. By spending lots of time letting your teen drive, you are helping to create a safer driver!
Mary Kay

1 mom found this helpful

I am going thru the same thing, except my oldest just completed the second segment, and gets her licesne next month, I was so nervous I want to cry!! What I did was I let her drive with her dad until she got more comfortable behind the wheel, which made me feel better because she was more comfortable. Now I am still nervous but not as bad, I still have to tell her things or remind her, but I dont do it from the panic stricken state I was in before. It does get easier, for both of you. You will always be nervous and worried, thats part of being a mom. But just letting her drive with dad for a while, did wonders for my mental state!! I think my finger prints are forever imprinted in the handle grip on the passenger side door!

I am going through the same thing but I have two teenagers at once taking Drivers Ed..One of them is calm and the other well he is nervous when im in the car.. I sit there and I don't say much unless I see something that they about to wrong I try and remain clam and pray a lot. Just have a postive attuide and try and relax it is not easy.

Hi M.,

I feel your pain!!
I am a driver license examiner for the state (11 years!) and I come across your situation frequently. Often one parent is more comfortable (or less nervous) than the other and so is able to be more helpful to the student as they learn.
You might not get over your nervousness for a while or maybe ever. I suggest that you let your husband be the one to handle the driving with your son for at least a couple of months or longer. Then, go out for a drive with him during a light traffic time and see if you feel differently. Hopefully he will drive really well, your anxiety will diminish (or dissipate) and you will be pleasantly surprised! If not, carry on as before.
If your son doesn't quite appreciate only being able to drive with dad, it could provide an incentive for him to improve quickly so he will have more opportunities to drive with you as well.
At any rate, please don't beat yourself up! You are not a bad mom. The situation is what it is and you will work it out.
If you haven't already, I suggest that you pick up a couple of copies of the "Driving Skills Test Study Guide" from the Sec. of State. It is a very helpful tool in preparing to take the skills test both for the student and the parents.
Good Luck!


I thnk I had the same situation. My Dad taught me how to drive because my mom was so nervous she yelled at me all the time. By the time i went to college she got better;0)

Good luck. i feel your pain!

You're absolutely right... PROBABLY NEVER! I exaggerate, of course. I am mother of six, grandmother of 13 and have ridden with all my children and four of my grandchildren while they were "learning" to drive. I was nervous with all of them, as I guess we should be. Weren't you nervous when your child tried ANY new thing? I was, and I'm sure you were too. Remember that first bike ride? Will he fall? Will he go into the street? Somehow they gain the confidence and you get less nervous. Trust that your child will do well... and he will. Good luck! Just think... I still have NINE more grandchildren to ride with!! Wish ME luck too!!

M. - Every mother of a teenage driver can relate to what you are experiencing. Although you cannot prevent feeling nervous. But, you CAN control the way that you respond. I suggest, saying a short prayer (silently) for your son to be a careful, alert driver, calmness of heart for yourself, and safety for you both, each time you get into the passenger seat. Then, just go along for the ride. Unless he asks for it, do not give him advice. That will only make your son nervous and resentful. After all, he did successfully complete Driver's Training. Now, he just needs to practice. By making suggestions and comments, it indicates to him that you have no confidence in him, making him more nervous, and possibly leading to driving errors. It would undoubtedly make you nervous, too, if your passenger was pointing out everything you should be alert to when you are driving. If you notice something important for him to notice, make yourself a mental note and talk with him about it after he has parked the car. Unless he is a REALLY careless driver, just say your prayer, enjoy the ride and give your son the gift of your confidence in him.

You'll get used to it. The more practice he gets, the better he'll be and the more relaxed you'll get. My son makes me nervous sometimes, but he's gotten allot better. I like when he drives, less driving I have to do, lol. Just try to take a deep breath and try to relax. I promise, it will get better. :)

M., I feel your pain! I though I would have this 'passenger' thing down without so much as a blink...guess what? I was wrong!!! I am THE worst passenger ever! My son flat out refuses to drive with me and I totally agree with him. But you know what? It's okay...let your husband take this one! You can't be great at everything so chalk it up as a weakness and let somebody else do this driving thing...that's what I had to do. There are going to be near misses, and there is probably going to be a fender-bender...and chances are everything will be okay. Just take a deep breath and say a 'help me' prayer!


NEVER ... my girls are 20 and 24 and I am still nervous driving with them .... lol

OMG! I am so relate. I can't offer advice, but you're not alone!


I can feel for you as I've been through this twice now myself. Eventually both my sons become better drivers (I think both my boys drive much safer than I do!) but first you have to get through the training period and the worrying about them once they are on their own never goes away. I had the same problem only my boys were both nervous with their father in the car. He is a police officer, need I say more. Since they were more comfortable with me I spent more time in the car with them than their father. I figured it would make it easier on them if they were less nervous about their passenger so they could focus more on their driving. I found that by staying very attentive to the traffic situation, just as if I were driving myself and making sure they saw the same hazards I did and pointing them out if they didn't was the best approach. I know how terribly nerve wracking it is for parents. I had at least one near disaster with both of them that still gives me the chills today, but like many things with raising kids, you will get through it. I hope this is of some help and good luck to you. Don't forget to buckle up!


My son is 16 and has finished both segments of drivers training (don't know if that's just a Michigan thing or not). Anyway, I made up my mind several years ago that he will not get his license till he is AT LEAST 17. That is because I don't think he is repsonsible enough to be on the road at 16 without me and he gets a longer experience with his permit. Now with that being said, I was a complete nervous wreck whenever I let him drive. I am better now, but he is a better driver too. That took a while though. He's had his permit for over a year now. I am still too afraid to take him on the express way (I've only done it once). As far as when he does finally go out on his own...I think I will be a wreck FOREVER!!! That's just what mom's do...they worry CONSTANTLY.

Hi M.: I know how you feel, we my daughter turned 16 in December, but we didn't have her get her license until April. We felt she still needed more practice.

Feeling nervous is normal, we're all driving around a 2,000-lb. weapons! The only suggestions I have are start out driving with him on shorter trips--10-15 minute jaunts. Maybe you could drive somewhere close and focus on having him practice parallel and angle parking. The better he does on these shorter trips, the more you'll probably calm down.

Try to control your voice, force yourself to keep a calm tone when you give suggestions like "Keep a good distance from that car ahead of you, they seem to be hitting their brakes a lot," instead of short burts in a panicked voice, "Watch out for that car!!!" The calmer you sound, the calmer he'll feel.

Also, I don't know your religious background, but doing some deep breathing and lots of prayers helped too!

Good luck!


I understand how you feel. My youngest of 4 just completed his drivers training and it's still hard to feel comfortable with any of them driving.
One thing I realized is that I am not use to being a passenger, so when I sit in the passengers seat the view is much different. We seem much closer to the curb and cars parked on the side.
What I found was it's best to give them directions well in advance and try to keep the talking to a minimum. It's not easy to watch them drive away for the first time by themselves, but if you let them practice frequently you will have greater confidence in their ability to drive safely.
Remember that just because they turn 16 doesn't mean they are ready for to get their license. Only you as a parent can decide when they are ready, so the more practice they get, the more comfortable you will be.
Good luck, remain patient and try to save the suggestions for after the drive when your feet are safely planted on the ground:)

M.,I have four children, three of them boys,which have moved out already, and my youngest daughter is still at home. When she was driving with me I was nervous also. I guess this is kinda normal that we feel we want them to be safe and learn everything there is to defensive driving. It will take a little time, you will see that they gain a sense of confidence when driving and most likely you will begin to feel better also. I just kept reminding them that to drive a little slower in the beginning is better, you would be able to handle a situation easier that way should it arise. Good Luck, I know that it is hard because my daughter just got her license around 1 yr. ago, and we were going through the same thing.Hang in there, it gets a little better each time they drive.

Before they get behind the wheel for the first time, I give my children a good, serious talking-to about how they literally hold people's lives in their hands when they are driving, putting a little healthy fear into them. But after that, it is all encouragement and as much positive as I can manage sincerely. I think sitting in the passenger seat with your teenager at the wheel for the first few months is the greatest opportunity for you to demonstrate your trust in them. It takes all kinds of will power on the parents part to sit there with out flailing and gasping and reacting. But I think it is critical that the teenagers be allowed to learn with a quiet, confident, stable person beside them. When you can anticipate something that they need to be doing, if you feel it is something they will miss ("make a left turn at the next street", or "you'll need to be turning right in a few blocks, start checking your lane to find a safe time to move over there"), give calm instruction, but allow them to miss a few things rather than anxiously say "turn there", or "not yet!" If you need to circle a block as you quietly explain what they should look for, so be it. Be sure to confirm their good moves with a "well done". Not unless there is an immediate danger that will be critical should you raise an anxious voice or react. I'm just helping my 2nd with her 50 hours of practice time before her license can be issued. I have nearly bit a hole in my cheek (the one she can't see from her seat), to be sure not to react and make things more difficult. It has been several months, and I am just now seeing her begin to do things naturally and more like I would do them. Learning to drive is awkward business, and it takes practice. Be calm. Be patient. Be kind. This is certainly a challenging time as a parent. Rise to the challenge and help them feel confidence. Also, start them out on quieter roads, or large, open parking lots by doing some simple maneuvers and parking practice. That builds confidence and gives goot time to get used to the way the car reacts to their touch without being in as much danger.
-Good luck!

I went thru this with my son also. I only have one, but drivers training seemed the worse part of the teenage years. I had to force myself to relax as my anxiety made his worse. I had to put myself in his shoes to keep calm, and it worked. That was 11 years ago. Since then he went in the Army for 4 years, was in charge of the motorpool and became a Sargeant there. When he left the Army he went to the Police Academy and just graduated from there. There they learn tactical driving like you see on police shows. You see its all worth it and now I have a grandbaby. One day he'll go thru drivers training with his children and he'll feel the same way we did.

Give it time. Let your son get the driving experience with someone other than you in the car because neither one of you is comfortable yet. He's not too confident and you are not confident with him either. I had the same thing happened with my mom when I started driving almost 23 years ago. Once he gets confident and a better driver, you will be more comfortable driving with him. LOL: Honestly, how many old people do you know that won't drive with their kids? Eventually, this will pass.

Relax and give it some time.


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