My husband drove to a neighboring town (in another county) about 25 minutes away yesterday to go to a large electronics store to get a part for the Jeep. He took our oldest son with him for the ride. When they got home my husband proudly proclaimed:
Adam drove the whole way home.
Yes, that is right, I have a sixteen year old son. He has a permit but not a license – yet. This was his first long drive from another county. He has been in Drivers Ed this year and he has been driving and getting his hours in but this was a long drive.
How Do You Know: Is My Teen Ready To Drive?
When I was 15 and 16 we lived in Europe so my idea of a drivers license was different. Since you can’t legally drive until you are 18 anyway it didn’t matter when you turned 16 and didn’t have a license or a permit. When we moved back t the states I got my permit and then my license when I was 17. It was a little later than all of my classmates at school but since I had lived overseas nobody thought it was strange. But all of my friends did have their license and got it on or as close to their 16th birthday as possible.
Times have changed though. I meet more and more kids that don’t feel any pressure waiting until they are ready to get their license. Quite a few of my friend’s kids did not even have their permits at 16. Others had kids that were begging as soon as they could to go to the DMV and take the test. My son drug his feet for a couple of months but as soon as he was ready we took him. Ultimately, parents need to decide whether their teen is ready for the responsibility that comes with driving.
Here are some guidelines for how to determine if your teen is ready to get their drivers permit and license.
If your teen knows that their weekend curfew is at 11:00 pm, do they show up on time or are they consistently 30 minutes late? Does your teen feel the need to defy authority, no matter whom it is or what they are trying to say? A teen that is not responsible enough to be home by curfew or listen to teachers and other authority figures might not be responsible enough to follow speed limits and rules of the road.
Does your teen complete homework on their own without being constantly reminded, asking for help only when they are stuck, or do you have to remind them 10 times a night because they forget over and over? Studies have shown over and over that the better the student does (in school), the better equip they are to get their drivers permit and learn to drive well.
Does your teen make rational, well thought out decisions? Do they keep a cool head in a stressful situation? Or do they sit in the car and pout if they don’t get to choose the restaurant for dinner or if you have to make a stop for dry cleaning and errands but they just want to get home? A teen that is able to handle their emotions, even when things go awry, and can curb their anger in stressful situations is a teen that is ready to drive.
Your Need Vs Their Desire
Do you need help with pick up/drop off for sports or after school activities? Do you need a second driver for soccer practice and milk/bread runs? When they are ready, they will let you know. Every teen is different, even teens within the same family. Teens that say they are not ready to drive should not be pushed or cajoled into it. Keep in mind that if YOU are more excited for them to get their license than they are you might want to stop and think about why you want them to be able to drive.
Adam can go for his license test on July 29th, which happens to be his sister’s birthday. His hopes are that we can have a double celebration that night for her birthday and his license. My hope is that he learns to be a good and safe driver.
*A version of this post was originally written for Mom It Forward. Check it out here!
* I linked this post on Friday Favorites! Go check out some other great blog posts here!