I’ve been driving a car for 22 years. Wow, that makes me feel super old. Anyhow, you would think that I would be a pro at teaching my daughter how to drive. Well, spoiler alert: I’m not.
When I used to think about how I would react when the time came to teach my children how to drive a car I always envisioned myself being the cool, calm, collected type who spoke with ease and never raised my voice and wouldn’t even dare press the imaginary brake on the passenger side floor. That was until I finally became a mother of a child taking Driver’s Training.
It seems like the minute my daughter sat behind that wheel something changed in me and I became this anxious fake pedal pushing maniac. I even added in grabbing the dashboard when she turns too sharp. I can’t seem to relax when she is driving and it’s not because she is a bad driver, she’s doing pretty well considering she just finished her classes and driving lessons. Is it normal to be on high alert the entire time she is driving?
I feel like everytime she asks to drive I instantly start to feel dread and fear of everything that can happen. How will she navigate construction zones? Will she react in time to stop if someone suddenly brakes in front of her, will she remember to use her turn signal, will she run that red light? When will I start to trust that she is taking this driving thing seriously and relax a little bit?
I find myself overanalyzing things and thinking of the worst case scenarios, and I know that that way of thinking is not constructive but I can’t seem to stop it. Maybe it is because I am always anxious about something, maybe it is just a normal feeling that comes with the territory, I don’t know, but I will tell you I don’t like it.
This change has been a huge experience for me. I have googled “How to teach my daughter to drive?” I have read everything the Driver’s Training course sent home, I have researched different ways to navigate driving with a teenager and I have learned so many things. Since I am in the business of sharing things with fellow parents I thought I would compile a list of things I have learned NOT to do while your child is learning to drive.
1) Don’t yell or nitpick
This one is hard for me. I try really hard not to raise my voice but sometimes it just comes out of nowhere and I can’t control it. I also find myself nitpicking her stops or turns. I know she is still learning so I need to lighten up a bit.
2) Do not expect your child to be an expert on their first drive
I started off letting Cadence drive in an empty parking lot and then slowly transitioned her to the rural roads of our town so she wouldn’t have to deal with much traffic. However, I did realize pretty quickly that she didn’t know things about the car that I just assumed everyone knew. She didn’t know how to turn on the turn signal at first, she didn’t know how to adjust the seat correctly, she didn’t know how to park in between the lines. These were all small things that I just assumed everyone knew.
3) Don’t distract them
I remember the first time she was behind the wheel I wanted to get a picture to commemorate the milestone. Well, of course, the minute I put my phone towards her she looked away from the road and looked at me. Luckily we were in an empty parking lot so there was nothing she could hit, but since she is easily distracted I now try to take pictures secretly or I tell her not to look before I take it.
4) Don’t forget that they are watching your every move when you are driving
One thing I hate about teaching someone to drive is the fact that they suddenly critique your every move. Cadence has become the driving police so to speak. She calls me out on every rolling stop I make or every time I drive through a yellow light or every sharp turn I make. It’s like karma is coming, punishing me for every time I nitpick her driving. It’s annoying but I guess she probably feels the same when I call her out.
5) Don’t forget to be compassionate
When teaching someone to drive it’s important to have compassion for what is likely an anxious and stressful experience for them. I have had to put myself in her shoes more than once and remind myself that 22 years ago I too did not know how to drive. I also remind myself often of the time I took the corner too sharp and all of my dad’s stuff that was sitting on his dashboard flew out of the window. Including his wallet and phone. So compassion and humility is necessary.
Overall I can say that this experience has been eye opening and life changing. I now know what I shouldn’t do when teaching her how to drive. Now, whether or not I abide by those rules is a different story. I would like to think that Steph Hightree is generally a rule follower.
So I would hope that in this instance I can follow the rules that I have learned and help Cadence transition to a confident driver. And hopefully she doesn’t get a speeding ticket like I did when I was fresh out of driver’s training with my shiny new driver’s license.
Steph Hightree is a hot mess mom who is fueled by stress and too much caffeine. She is a Three Rivers native who talks about the good, the bad, and well, everything else about parenthood.
Any views or opinions expressed in “#MomLife” are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Watershed Voice staff or its board of directors.