This conversation is sponsored by Cars.com. I’m partnering with them to share a little bit of our journey with our oldest now driving.
My oldest child started driving this past year. So far, this has been the hardest parenting hurdle for me. I was OK when I was in the car with her, guiding her and directing her on what to do. But that first solo drive left me so nervous.
She promised to text before she started the car and let me know she was leaving. And she promised to text after she stopped the car so let me know that she got there. All went well and thank goodness that is many months behind us. She has done fantastic!
I think there were a few things that her dad and I did right on this journey with our first teenage driver.
First of all, we went set our own timeline. We didn’t go by the State recommendation. Remember, that’s just an average recommendation. Study your child and learn if they are ready to get behind the wheel. If either one of you is hesitant, it is OK to wait. It is OK to wait until you are both ready to take the plunge. Julia was finishing up her sophomore year when she turned 16. She was in the middle of finals, the school play, and things were hectic for her. So, we waited until that summer when she could fully focus on taking the permit test completing driver’s education.
Second, we were very careful about which drivers education program we picked out. We didn’t just default to the ones that her friends were choosing. As a family, we looked at their credentials and their model to make sure it was something that works for all of us. The one we chose was instructed by retired police officers. They actually came to our home to pick her up, and after the drive, came in for a cuppa coffee and to tell us exactly what they thought she needed to work on. This gave my husband and I are additional resources to know what we should be practicing with her in the coming days before her next lesson.
Finally, we sat down and drew up a contract together. This way the expectations were completely clear before she ever got behind the wheel by herself. She knew what would happen if the expectations were not met. It can be so easy to get caught up in the excitement of that first drive, that you forget to really discuss consequences and expectations. I love having this in writing, so there is never any question about what we all discussed.
I am so glad that we went at our own pace in our own way. Having Julia drive has been a huge blessing for the family, especially since sweet little Sebastian was born.