Driving Young People and Young People Driving by Mark Michniak

Last month, our daughter reminded us that she will start the process of learning to drive soon. I believe her exact words were “I can’t believe in six months I will be getting my drivers permit!”. Yes, it is still six months away, but let’s face it, to a teenager it is six months, but to an adult it might has well be tomorrow.

I am actually genuinely excited for her to start the whole driving process. Her learning to drive will mean less time I have to spend behind the wheel dropping her off places and picking her up. Once she gets good enough, she will also be able to do her mother and I a big favor by being able to drive her younger sister places. It will mean more independence for herself and less dependence on mom and dad. It is part of the whole growing-up process.

My wife has already stated that I will be the one taking her out to practice when she does finally get her permit. I believe I will be a good coach and teacher as I spend a lot of my time driving in my line of work and have driven in just about every imaginable situation. Rain, snow, ice, fog, mountains, highways, country roads..name it, I have driven it. I intend to take her out in many of these conditions so that she develops the same confidence I have with my own driving. My years of experience I hope will allow us to work well together and also have some father/daughter bonding time.

Of course deep-down there is small part of me that is nervous for her. We all know someone that has been in a serious accident and sadly I know of people that have been killed in an automobile accident. As matter of fact, when I was in high school, a guy my age (we were 17 at the time) was driving up a hill, attempted to pass, and caused an accident that killed one young girl and injured a couple of people including himself. I would be lying if I said that those images don’t enter my head when I think of our daughter learning to drive.

However, a good friend taught me awhile ago that you can’t stay focused on the negative and worry about things you can not control. He is absolutely right! I can sit here and project to the future, building this whole learning-to-drive thing as something that is going to be hard and scary. I can worry that my daughter will get into an accident and it will be a serious accident. It would not be hard for me to stay-up late with images of terrible things happening to my daughter from her driving a car.

Or I can concentrate on what I can control and what I can do personally to positively affect our daughter’s driving. I can take her out like I stated earlier and teach her what I know. I can be patient and build her confidence. I can help educate her through books and movies. I can help put as many roadblocks into place to limit the real possibility of those bad things ever happening. I can listen to her concerns and reassure her that she can do this because there are millions of people who do this everyday and whose lives are unchanged by their driving.

I can not predict the future nor can I say with 100% confidence that nothing will ever happen to my daughter’s car or to her own well-being. I would be insane to believe that. What I can say is that I will do my best to be a positive influence to my daughter. Like anything with parenting, I will do what I can to be a good role-model so that she will drive the way I hope she will drive. In six months, I look forward to writing the newest chapter in my Parenting book: “Driving Young People and Young People Driving”.

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