How to survive when you hand your keys over to your teen driver - Rachel Teodoro

How to survive when you hand your keys over to your teen driver

We did it. We survived teaching and driving with a 15 year old.  Our oldest son Aidan was dying to drive for years and as a parent who has navigated the waters, we get asked often what some of our best tips are.
I won't say that we have all of the answers, but we do have some experience. These are a few of the ways that we survived teaching our son to drive.
Every state is different, but in our lovely state of Washington, kids who are 15 AND enrolled in a drivers education class can get their learner's permit. For Aidan's 15th birthday, we gave him drivers education lessons, so he was eligible to get his permit on his birthday and don't think that we didn't rush right on over to the DMV and get that shiny new piece of paper allowing him to operate a motor vehicle. 

There are different schools of thought on this. For us, we had an excited driver. He wanted to learn to drive as soon as he was legal. I was the same way.  I am quite independent and love the freedom that driving allows me.  So I could totally understand his desire.  There are kids though that are just not interested. I think that if that's the case, there is no need to push them into driving if they just aren't feeling it. 
As parents, we thought that there was great benefit in the fact that he would have a full year of driving with an adult in all different kinds of weather conditions with plenty of opportunities to drive at different times of the day and at different times of the year.
As soon as Aidan got that permit, I had an automatic chauffeur. He wanted to drive everywhere. I know not all kids are like this {and perhaps not all parents are ready to relinquish all control}, but for our son, he was excited to be behind the wheel and I allowed him the opportunity to drive nearly every where that we went.
I say that I allowed him, because the reality is, he was almost always with me. My husband wasn't always excited at the prospect of being replaced behind the wheel, so it wasn't always a given for Aidan to drive when my husband was with us, but nearly every time I was in the car, he was driving me.
I think that allowing Aidan to drive for a full year before turning him over as an independent driver on his 16th birthday, put us more at ease when he got behind the wheel without one of us in the car. 
When it snowed one winter, instead of staying bundled up inside, we hit the streets. Carefully teaching him how to start on an icy patch and spin out in a parking lot. When it rained buckets, we let him get behind the wheel and drive us home.
We did often take into careful consideration how many of our ducks were all in one place. When there was inclement weather, I rarely would let him drive for the first few months with all of us in the car. I didn't want to risk all of our lives!
There were no written rules as to how we eased into driving, but we started slow, driving on our community streets first and mastering that, before hitting the busier roads in our town. It wasn't long before we were letting him hit the highway, but usually only during the afternoon or the weekend and never during rush hour. Driving at night brings with it it's own challenges. All things to take into consideration. 
After a few months, we felt more comfortable letting Aidan take the wheel while our whole family was in the car. The person sitting in the front seat with him, was always the one giving directions and advice because there is nothing worse than hearing different things shouted at you from the front and the back seat.  Unless there is something life threatening, sit back and enjoy the ride while the pilot and co pilot up front do the driving.
One thing that we did notice during our long permit period was that after about a half a year, our son got really comfortable.  This was a good thing for us to see so that we could nip bad behavior before it became a habit. 
Driving with a long permit period doesn't mean that once your child gets their license that they will be a perfect driver {not even a month after our son got his license he took a corner too quickly on a rainy night and ended up in a ditch}, but you will have plenty of opportunities with your child behind to wheel to impart all of your driving wisdom on them.  
So what do you think? What helped you survive being behind the wheel with your kids?

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