Chances are, the second your son or daughter was of age, he or she was holding a hand out demanding the car keys. However, just because your child is legally able to drive doesn’t mean he or she should be driving. (This is a distinction that may be quite hard to explain when you’re withholding the means of transportation.) How do you know when your child is ready to take the wheel? Here are some things to look for, outlined in a recent Forbes article:
Does your child follow the rules? Teenagers, by their very nature, seem to be rebellious, but to what degree? When it really matters, can your child obey the rules? When you’re driving a car, ignoring the rules could literally be a choice between life and death—both for your child and the others on the road. If your child refuses to follow any rules, then he or she probably isn’t ready for the keys yet.
Is your child’s phone permanently attached to his or her hand? Lately, there have been a surge of commercials broadcasting the dangers of texting while driving. Texting and driving is a very real concern, almost as much so as drunk driving. If your child can’t be trusted to keep the phone off or at least out of hand while driving, then he or she isn’t ready for the driver’s seat.
Does your child easily cave to peer pressure? Children, and especially teenagers, are faced with peer pressure on a daily basis. If your son or daughter can’t be counted on to not cheat on the bio midterm at the urging of his or her friends, can you count on him or her to not try to make it across the railroad tracks before the train gets there?
Is your child responsible? If your child does his or her homework, is involved in extra-curriculars, has a part-time job, and is helpful around the house, he or she can probably be trusted to carefully operate the family vehicle. If, on the other hand, your child never does homework and never makes curfew, you might want to rethink his or her driving privileges.
If you simply aren’t sure about whether or not your child is ready for the privilege of driving, consider a test run. Let him or her drive with supervision. You can even purchase easily installable tools that will track your child’s driving and give you a closer look at how responsible he or she is behaving. TagNGo is one such example of these tools, but there are plenty of options out there.
Withholding the keys from your son or daughter does not make you a bad parent (despite what he or she says—or screams). Driving can be dangerous. It is your responsibility as a parent to protect your children from physical danger as well as legal trouble. If your child causes an accident, you may also be held legally and financially liable for his or her actions.