Take a deep breath. Now let's teach that teen of yours how to drive.
Wasn't it just last week you were waving a tearful goodbye for your child's first day of preschool?
Somehow, the years have rushed by, and now your kid is ready for another milestone: learning how to drive.
Your son or daughter might be ready, but are you?
Putting a teenager behind the wheel can feel like a scary thing. Not only do you possibly worry about trusting your kid, but also there are a myriad of other drivers on the road who may lack good decision-making skills.
Handing over the keys under these conditions is often stressful even for the most chill parent.
Image via iStock.
Just enter the words "how to teach my teen to drive" into your browser and count how many articles caution you to "not do it" or to "be warned." But for a lot of parents, the experience — while challenging — isn't that terrible. In fact, some even look back on the experience fondly.
Plus, technology makes it easier than ever before for us to stay connected with our kids. It wasn't all that long ago that teenagers would go out for the night with no cellphone or way to get help in an emergency. Parents today also have access to devices like Hum that can help if your teen runs into trouble. The Emergency Assistance feature connects you to an agent if you have an emergency on the road — and can even automatically send help if a collision is detected — and if your teen gets a flat or their battery dies, they can let help know exactly where they are using Pinpoint Roadside Assistance.
But even with all of our technology, parents have lots of worries when it comes to our kids, and driving is a big one.
To that end, we've rounded up nuggets of wisdom from parents around the internet who have been there and have survived the experience:
1. Start "leading by example" early.
2. Customize your teaching style to your kid.
3. Remember that nobody learns without making a few mistakes along the way.
4. Practice responding to an emergency — when there isn't one.
At some point in their life, your teen's going to drive in bad weather or encounter an accident on the road. Having them practice for difficult driving situations ahead of time can help them prepare.
"With the car up to speed, give the order to turn abruptly and keep accelerating; sharp cornering and even skidding in a controlled environment beats doing those things in an emergency," advises Joe Bargmann on Popular Mechanics.
"Teach them to keep their eyes fixed on where they want to go (as opposed to fixating on a curb they don't want to hit)."
5. Enjoy it! This time you'll spend together can be a beautiful memory for you both.
6. Don't take yourself too seriously.
"Stay positive and make it fun. Your teen is going to screw up a lot while learning to drive. You're going to screw up a lot while teaching your teen to drive," writes one father of four teenagers on Boys Town.
"Be willing to laugh at yourself when you overreact to a mistake. Make them comfortable by joking around with them about the things they do wrong. It can be a wonderful bonding experience if you focus on the good things they do and laugh off the bad."
7. Know it is so worth it.
Like most intimidating endeavors, having taught your teenager how to drive is very rewarding for both parties (and not just because of all the free time not driving your teen everywhere will free up).
8. Consider getting your teen invested in the process … literally.
9. Think of it like a crazy trust exercise.
Conquering a challenge together can be lots of fun.
The greatest achievements in life are hard won. While teaching your teenager to drive might trigger some strong emotions, working through those to give your child the gift of independence will be worth it.