The parental transition of teen driving

Are You Worried Now That Your Teen Is Driving?  “Finally, a ‘New Driver’ car magnet my teenager is willing to accept….” CLICK HERE to see.Dean Poling
The Valdosta Daily Times

Somewhere in the rush of picking up our oldest son from one event to deliver him to another outing with the realization that we would have to pick him up again in about 45 minutes to take him to another get-together, it dawned on my wife that perhaps there is some reason to this rhyme of non-stop teen events.

Maybe there is an unspoken societal contract coupled with a growing teen-ager’s need to be out of the house that is designed to make a coming major event in a teen-ager’s life a little easier for parents to accept.

That major event is driving — a teen-ager learning how to drive.

As our 15-year-old son has entered the threshold of that milestone, my wife and I know the fear and trepidation of so many parents. This person who was once our little man is now some nearly full-grown dude behind the wheel.

In mentioning that our son has his learner’s permit, we’ve experienced the appreciative nods of parents who have been there already with their grown or growing children. We’ve seen the wide-eyed gasp of panic from parents whose children are a year or two younger than our oldest son; it’s a realization that if our son is already driving then their children will be driving, too, a lot sooner than they want to consider.

And there are the parents with white knuckles and smiles that aren’t really smiles as much as bared, gritted teeth. These are the parents in the same boat as we are with a 15-year-old. They are easy to recognize because they have the same expression I have often found on my face.

There are many reasons for this anxious look of fear on the face of parents: The rising cost of insurance and the rising potential of dents and dings on vehicles; the horrible fears that accompany the thought of a child driving; the realization that with a car, a parent may not always know exactly where the teen-age child is.

There are many reasons for that clenched-tooth look, but there is also the knowledge that in teaching them to drive we are preparing them to leave the nest. We are loosening the parental leash a lot further and we are preparing for them to venture out in the world.

In teaching a child to drive, a parent is figuratively and literally driving a child toward independence.

So, there are many reasons for fear and trepidation, which brings me back to my wife’s realization.

It seems that along with a learner’s permit at the age of 15, a teen-ager’s activities increase to a point where a parent spends a ridiculous amount of time on the road racing the teen back and forth, and to and fro.

Maybe this is by design.

Maybe a parent is supposed to drive or accompany a 15-year-old to so many events to help teach the teen how to drive under a parent’s supervision, but also to serve as a proper transition.

After all that driving, maybe a parent is supposed to be relieved that at long last a teen-age child can drive himself to all of the places he must go. Maybe the events and activities increase so that a parent is more than happy to say, You can drive yourself.

Maybe that bit of rest is supposed to take some of the edge off the parents’ worries. Maybe, we’ll see…..

Dean Poling is The Valdosta Daily Times features editor


Leave a comment

No comments yet.

Comments RSS TrackBack Identifier URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s