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Dr. Ray Guarendi advises parents dealing with new bearers of driver’s licenses who feel excited over (and entitled by) their modest accomplishment.
BY Dr. Ray Guarendi
“D” — driving, as in “the car” — is coming up fast. My son has been riding me
about it since he turned 15, but I’m not sure he’s ready.
a parent of five children of driving age, and as a professional who’s learned
lots from years of riding shotgun with parents, I can offer some rules of the
legal age is meaningless. What matters is the child’s social and moral age.
What is his level of trustworthiness? How cooperative is he? Has he been
responsible in things much smaller than driving? The best indication of how a
youngster will guide a car is how he’s guided his life up to this point.
am consistently stunned by parents who green-light a license for a kid who, for
years, has been difficult, disrespectful and demanding. Their attitude seems to
be, “Well, she is old enough, so I guess it’s time.” Or worse, “Life will be
unlivable around here until I let her.”
go against your better judgment because of pressure, be it from other parents,
your schedule or your child. A privilege with as many features as driving needs
lots of parental pondering, prudence, patience and discernment. Way too much is
at stake for anything less.
on your child’s situation, you may have to completely reassess your initial
driving decision. You’ve judiciously weighed all the factors, and Mario is now
truly “old enough” to drive. What happens if he mishandles the privilege? (He
speeds, say, or stays out too late, or returns the car stinking of an
parents ground the kid or remove the car privilege. That’s one option, but
consider another: Particularly in matters of trustworthiness or integrity, a
week or two without wheels may not be enough to teach the lesson. Time-limited
grounding may have to yield to open-ended supervision. Only when you feel
confident in Van’s maturity does the door to driving open again.
driver-license day, after offering congratulations, inform Edsel that this is
not his permanent license, despite what the state calls it. It is still a
temporary permit. It may be revoked.
few basic “automotive tips” can guide you. Implement a “good student” discount.
(Only sustained good grades lead to sustained license. Grades drop, license
drops.) Gas and insurance cost money. (Household cooperation is necessary to
help pay operating costs.) A clean car is a drivable car. (No explanation
is a two-way street. Permission to drive is a parent’s respect for the child’s
unfolding independence. A child’s respect toward the parent is a must response.
Teens, and most everyone else, view
driving as more age-related than character-based. Age is the least relevant
factor in this decision. In the end, it all comes down not to what year the
child was born, but whether or not he has grown up.
The doctor is always in