It can be a rite of passage for a parent teaching a son or daughter how to drive.
It is a chance to spend some quality bonding time together, or it could be a chance for Mom or Dad to reach for the aspirin.
Even if it is nerve-wracking, remember one thing as a parent. You were there once. Your mother or father may have taught you to drive, and you may have hit the gas pedal instead of the brake or vice versa. Your parents went through the same headache you did.
It does not necessarily have to be a headache. Remember when you sat in driver training classes and watched endless movies about driving a car? You even had to operate a driving simulator at times. That has changed. With cutbacks in school budgets, most driver-training classes have gone away. However, private companies still operate driver programs.
You can even watch online videos about driving. Sit your son or daughter down with you and watch the video together. Don’t be dismissive or constructive right away. Answer your child’s questions. Trust us. He or she will have a lot of questions. Be patient and answer each one. It is better to give the answer now rather than five seconds before something could happen behind the wheel.
Go over the responsibilities of driving and owning a vehicle. Insurance is a must from a company like 21st Century, for example. Maintenance costs must be factored in. Gasoline is needed. Driving a car comes with a lot of thinking attached to it.
Also tell drivers to expect the unexpected. Just like you get no warning in California when an earthquake hits, often a driver will go through an intersection or run a red light without warning. A driver may open his or her door right into traffic, not even thinking.
Now it is time to hit the pavement. Start with something small. Find a parking lot for a company that might be closed on the weekends. This will give you plenty of room to maneuver around and make left turns, right turns, braking maneuvers and acceleration.
If your child makes a mistake, the important thing is not to yell or be overly critical. The worst thing to do is make your child nervous. What will often happen is your child will repeat the mistake or make more mistakes, all because he or she is nervous and wants to make a good impression. Tell your child to stay calm, and set a good example yourself.
Speaking of good examples, it is very easy to answer your cell phone, check your e-mail or text someone. It may even be easy for a woman to open the passenger mirror, put on makeup, etc. These are not good ideas, at least not with a child in the car. The last thing you want to do is have your child echo the behavior. A recent article on Salon.com said 3,000 people were killed and over 400,000 hurt in crashes caused by distracted driving.
Seeing your son or daughter behind the wheel for the first time can cause bittersweet emotions. It only seems like yesterday that your child rode a bike for the first time, right? Make the most of this life-changing opportunity.