What a liberating freedom. I guess I have one heads-up and a couple of pieces of advice. The heads-up is to forget about seeing them very much after they start driving. There will be a million reasons why they need to be somewhere else. We had to set a “goal” of eating together as a full family 4 times per week, yet we’re sometimes lucky to make it happen 2-3 nights. Part of this is due to the fact that a driving teen also possibly has a job, club memberships or sporting activities in addition to all the social possibilities that pull them away from home.
We make it clear that homework and other school-related tasks come first. Beyond that, we let them explore their new-found freedom. This brings me to the flip side of the freedom. We make it clear to the girls that they have some real responsibilities regarding the car. We buy the car but they pay for the gas. We pay for regular maintenance items like oil changes, tires, brakes, etc., but they pay for any damage due to an accident (including the insurance deductible). Actually, if they have a wreck and don’t have enough money saved up to cover the deductible, they go without a car until they can pay the deductible. This also helps reinforce another one of our lessons of having emergency money in savings. And if the insurance costs go up due to moving violations or accidents, they are responsible for all of the increase. I know, it might sound harsh to some but the responsibility lessons that go along with having a car fit nicely with some financial management lessons.
Finally, we make it clear that the car is ours and they are given the privilege of driving it under the conditions we explain. This means that we can take the car away as a disciplinary measure, and especially if they have one or more moving violations that cause us to feel they might be unsafe.
If you read my blog post series on driving instruction, you also came across the “driving contract” we used with our new teenage drivers.
See my other blog posts on parenting here.