August 25, 2010,
D.B. asks from Chalfont, PA on September 24, 2008
My Daughter Is Getting Her Driver's License, Help!!
My daughter is getting her driver's license on Saturday. First of all, I'm a nervous wreck. Not because she's testing, but because I know she will pass and want to drive away alone afterward. My heart is going to be in my throat all day until I know she is home safe and sound. Any reassuring advice for a nervous mamma bear?
Secondly, any advice about what kind of guidelines, rules, or parameters that you put on your child when they got their driver's license and were ready to drive away? Specifically on them, their car and driving with passengers? Or even some do's and don'ts for me. I'm thinking things like only one passenger at a time for the first six months, obviously no cell phone use while driving and texting me every time she puts the car in park. My brother says I'm too much and that I need to relax. What do you think??
So What Happened?™
THANK YOU ALL!!!! for all the wonderful advice! Wow, it was great to hear that I was not the only nervous nellie and that I have real concerns, and also, on the other hand, very proud of my daughter's accomplishments. This IS a right of passage. My husband and I have put together a contract (the one on line is great!) that we tailored especially for our daughter. We added things like no passengers for the first year, only family members. No one else drives her car. She shoots us a text everytime the car starts and stops, as least for the first couple of months until we toughen up. At the bottom of the contract, we also signed a waiver that stated that if for any reason she felt uncomfortable either as a passanger or driver that she could use us as a scapgoat with her friends in any way she felt fit. She has the option to call us at any time. She smiled and said "wow, great idea!! Thanks!" We also decided that she would buy her own car and insurance. Thinking that would buy us some time.
Well here's what happened: She failed, she was devastated. I felt so bad for her but understood why she failed. Rolling through Stop Signs doesn't get a passing grade. She was very upset until she talked to her friends and found out that most of them failed the first time too. She's a great kid, I was surprised she didn't get it, but relieved. We have another month to relax. She bought herself a car last week and she got her own insurance too! (Well, its on my policy, but we called the agent together and got a little education on insurance) She's such a beautiful young lady,- We are sooooo proud. Again, thank you for all your input. I'll update you again when the big day actually comes.
B.W. answers from Erie on September 25, 2008
It's not as bad as you fear. It's really WONDERFUL to give them the keys and not be in the passenger seat worrying about everything along the route. It's easier than being there all the time. (sounds awful, in its own way, but it's very true)
I have 27, 25, 15 and 13 yr olds. The eldest thought if you could drive fast you were a good driver. (panic city for mom) She learned when she lost her license and Mom wouldn't let her drive again until the state had actually collected it (3 months later), and she took a defensive driving class to take points off her license. She got punished by the state and also by her parents, and her parents were a whole lot worse !
the 2nd one was much more conscientious. When I explained that the mark of a good driver was to have the person in the passenger seat feel relaxed, she made that her goal. (phew)
With each child, I felt it was important to give them a chance to take the car out on their own on THE DAY she got her license. Even just to drive around the block. Or to go to the grocery store to pick something up for me. Give your daughter the chance to drive all alone; its a rite of passage. It doesn't have to be far, it just has to happen.
then look at the good stuff: She can run errands for you. She can drive herself to the dance or back and forth from jobs, and you won't have to run back and forth, which will save you time and gas money.
I have never bought my child a car or a cell phone. So, for the child to "get the car", they have to need it, and they have to fit into the needs of the rest of the family. We are a team. Ever since I have had a cell phone, however, I have handed it to my daughter when she got the car. It's important to have the ability to call home.
Initially, I think it's good for mom to have her call when she arrives, and then call again, when she leaves to head home. That way you know when she's on the road, and when you can relax. But you need to set a time limit on that, too. Don't become a burden to your child. Afer a month, or after a certain number of "trips", you should assume she will arrive (if it's not a major trip somewhere), but because it might be nighttime when she leaves to come home, you might still want to know when she's getting on the road and what route she plans to take home. That becomes especially important when she goes to a school function or something and it's snowing on the way home. If it's snowing before she leaves, and you don't trust the roads, don't give her the keys. Or, let her drive with you next to her, so she gets extra snow-coaching. Hand out as much autonomy as you can, within limits, and take pride in her achievements. Also take obvious pride in her responsibility when she checks in with you. You aren't, I hope, asking her to do things you wouldn't do with your spouse. For instance, when my husband or I go on a trip without the other, we call home when we arrive. We often also call when we leave, so the partner knows approximately when to expect them home. It's just part of loving each other and being family. :-)
I did not allow passengers in the car when my daughters first got their licenses. I learned that from a friend, who allowed her kids to drive family around, but not friends. She and her hub had a small business and didn't want to get sued if something happened, but I thought it was good advice. Most accidents are caused because the driver becomes distracted, and friends who are laughing and talking together are a definite distraction. When they started driving the little siblings, I made sure the siblings took some behavioral responsibility and told them that THEY WERE NOT TO DISTRACT THE DRIVER. Talking was okay, fighting was OUT. If there was a problem with siblings, I told the driver to pull over and solve it. If they sat at the side of the road a while, at least that was safer than trying to solve it at the wheel. When it was time to add friends to the mix, my teens generally came and asked if they could drive someone somewhere with them. They would usually tell me who it was, and would let me know that the person was responsible, and why. They actually made good decisions, and I don't think they ever were the carpool driver type until college. And at that point, if they had our car at college, I would let them know that I was not insuring any other drivers. No one but OUR CHILDREN were allowed to drive OUR car. It helped that we gave them standard transmissions to drive, cuz none of their friends could handle a clutch ! :-)
When they start driving on their own, be sure you understand their complaints. Driver #2, our more careful driver, used to drive home in the snow and tell me the car did things I didn't think the car could do. Like frontwheel drive "fishtailing". I told her it can't happen. She said it did. I told her she was driving too fast. She said she wasn't. She thought something was wrong with the car. . . . We went through 3 years of this until she was driving home in snow that was falling after turning over from rain. She got cut off by a driver, then the driver stopped right in front of her to make a left hand turn. She slowed, but the car didn't stop until it hit his car. ugh. She came home devastated and crying her eyes out -- in fact, she was such a wreck that the other driver called US to be sure she got home safely. We talked thru the accident, and how she could have avoided it, but she had fully expected the car to stop. I said, "You were driving too fast." She said she was going really slowly. finally, it all clicked. 3 years of the same discussion and finally I caught on and said, "What I mean is, that if you do not have total control over the car, you are going too fast for the ROAD CONDITIONS." Prior to that, she had considered too fast to relate to the speed limit, and I had been talking about controlling the car. Communication is key, and i could have saved both of us a number of fruitless conversations if I had listened better and explained myself better.
This is a big time in your daugher's life. Take GREAT PRIDE in her achievements, and enjoy them. My two adults are two of the greatest prides in my life. No career achievement has ever compared to the joy I get at seeing them launch their lives and succeed ! This is one of those "big times" in life that allow you to show your pride, continue to require responsibility, but also move that responsibility from that of a child to that of a responsible adult, who realizes her life is intertwined with those of her family, bound by love, and wants to show that same love to her parents as they have shown to her.
Good luck ! Make it a victory ground rather than a battle ground !!
E.S. answers from Pittsburgh on September 25, 2008
While I'm not yet in your situation (mine are 8, 6, & 3) I remember what it was like when I was 16 (too many years ago!) Plus, my husband is a state trooper and so I get to hear a lot of good stories about teenage drivers today. I would definitely go with your rules of no cell phones, no texting, no buddies in the car. I got into a few near misses because I was busy talking to my friends or playing with the radio (before cellphones). This may sound strange or inappropriate, but I would also talk to her about her attitude while driving and especially if she ever gets pulled over for any reason. My husband HATES it when teenagers get mouthy right off the bat, immediately on the offensive because they think that because they have a license that means they're a great driver. If they're respectful and decent, they may get off with a warning.
One other thing: just about the time I was going to turn 16 the local police were at the Mall with different booths and tables for stuff, but the one that caught my dad's eye was thing called The Convincer (I'm pretty sure that's what it was called). Anyway, it was a carseat and seatbelt on a track, and when they start it up it only went 10 mph, but at the end of the track it stopped suddenly to simulate a crash. If I hadn't been wearing the seat belt I would've ended up on the floor a few feet away. And it was only 10 mph!! It really did convince me how important seat belts are and I can honestly say I've worn mine ever since. Maybe you could find out if there's something similar in your area, or even try it yourself (drive with her in the passenger seat and on a quiet street slam the brakes on!) Good luck, I'll be there before I know it!
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J.P. answers from Harrisburg on September 25, 2008
Hi D. ~ We have 4 yrs. til our oldest is legally able to get his license but we have already started talking about this. I don't think you need to relax on any guidelines you listed or others you feel appropriate (we're on the same page as with what you have listed). Nothing terrifies me more than when I am driving with my 4 boys and see a car full of teenagers, passing the cell phone, music cranked, weaving in/out of traffic. It is proven fact that their minds do not reach maturity in the area of decision making until 21! Your daughter may throw a fit and others may be critical, but her safety as well as others on the road are more important!! Hope this is helpful. Blessings to you ~ J.
T.S. answers from Philadelphia on September 25, 2008
My sister in law and I were talking recently as she has twin 16 year olds. She doesn't let them drive in the car with anyone else other than each other or an adult. She doesn't let them get in the car of a teenager driver who has had their license less than 2 years. I hope that helps...I'm 11 years away from your problem!
B.K. answers from Pittsburgh on September 25, 2008
Hi D.! Boy am I right there with you! I have three of my own, 16,14 & 11yrs. old and I know of what you speak. I don't think you are worrying too much at all. Tell your brother to get a life and be real. My friends daughter just got her license and for now she is not allowed to have anyone in the car with her but her sisters. No cell phone use while she is driving, she isn't allowed to drive after dark (yet) and has to maintain her grades to have access to the car at all. So far it has been working for them. We are in the process of teaching my oldest to drive...and I'm am totally not ready for this at all. Funny how eager I was to drive when I was that age...and how unwilling I am to teach my own child to drive. It's not about trusting her, it's all the other crazies on the road!! Be honest with her, explain to her how you feel and how with time you will cope with that fear and that she just has to give you that time. Remember the hardest part of our job as parents is to let them grow and go...and we all have to find the strength to let it happen or we will loose our children to rebellion, anger and hurt. Best wishes & Good luck!
S.P. answers from San Diego on August 25, 2010
She'll pass next time. And hey, all that driver's ed will help with getting you a discount on her car insurance! Is she on your policy? Sounds like you have a helpful agent. Here's an article you might find interesting on other discounts new drivers can get: http://www.cheapercarinsurance.com/definitions/good-stude...
E.M. answers from Philadelphia on September 25, 2008
Here's a link to a "driving contract" that my husband and I are planning to use with our son when he gets his drivers license in the not so distant future .... (I'm right there with you on being a nervous wreck, but trust your daughter!)
Hope this helps! :)
T.S. answers from Philadelphia on September 25, 2008
I think you're right to be worried and it's great that you are considering all this. I like what the other posters wrote, too. We are a few years away from a drivers' license, but I already think about it. We live near our high school and I see too many teens taking risks while in the car...driving too fast; on the phone; music up so loud they can't hear anything around them (including the crossing guard blowing his whistle when a car of 3 teen girls were driving way too fast in the elem. school zone), etc. Even if you totally trust your own child, she needs to learn to be super aware of the other drivers who may not be as attentive.