Ah, being the parent of a teenager. All you really want is for your kid to stay safe and (if you are lucky) show you a little respect in the process. Unfortunately, all he wants is to test every boundary you have given him, especially when it comes to driving. If only he could really understand the importance of what you are trying to tell him instead of just thinking you are being overprotective and controlling.
When it comes to your teen’s driving practices, you should just expect to get a lot of resistance. But it is your job as the parent (and because you love him) to make sure your teen comprehends the severity of what you are trying to tell him. The best way to do this is with facts. Few things can scare safety into a teen better than some frightening statistics (photos of fatal car crashes are also amazingly effective). But you need to deliver them calmly and precisely. No sugar coating allowed. Here are a few examples to get you started (feel free to use them verbatim if it helps).
USING THE SEATBELT
You: You are checking that your friends have their seatbelts buckled before you start driving, right?
Typical Teen: Why should I? I’m not in charge of them.
Your Rebuttal: Maybe not, but you are in charge of the safety of everyone in your car, and if they aren’t buckled up, they won’t be safe. In fact, some states will even give you a traffic ticket if your friend is not wearing the seatbelt. Not to mention, if you do get in a crash and your friend gets seriously injured because he wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, you are going to feel pretty guilty.
CELL PHONE USE
You: Make sure you don’t use the phone while you are driving. If you have to take a call, pull over first.
Typical Teen: It’s okay; I use my Bluetooth.
Your Rebuttal: That’s great that you want to drive with both hands on the wheel, but that is not all that comes into play when you are driving. It is just as important that your mind is focused on everything going on around you. When you are talking on the phone, that is just not possible, and your risk of crashing goes up substantially.
SENDING/READING TEXT MESSAGES
You: Make sure you don’t do any texting while you are driving. It’s very dangerous.
Typical Teen: Don’t worry; I can text without even looking at the keys. Plus, I’m a lot faster at it than you are.
Your Rebuttal: It doesn’t matter how fast you are. Even if you take your eyes off of the road for one second, that is all it takes. What if in that one second the car in front of you stops suddenly and you don’t see it in time to react? You know, texting while driving has been proven to be just as dangerous as drinking and driving. And really, is any text message worth your life?
FALSE SENSE OF SKILL
You: While you are still perfecting your driving skills, I’m going to keep showing you ways to make sure you are safe, and there will be rules you will be expected to follow.
Typical Teen: Why? I have my license already. That proves I know what I’m doing.
Your Rebuttal: If only it were that simple. I know you worked hard to get your license, and I am very proud of you for that accomplishment. However, a car crash is the number one reason teenagers die, and I care about you and love you too much to let you become a statistic.
Written by MyImprov