Raising Teens

A site for parents of teens striving for sanity

Category: Teen Drivers (page 1 of 2)

Why I’m Giving My Teen A Curfew

 

It’s a Friday night at 1 a.m.,  I’m exhausted and my daughter isn’t home yet. She is out with friends and tonight she’s the driver. I want to go to sleep. In fact, I’m in my jammies under my covers, but my eyes won’t shut. I’m thinking about that proverbial ditch that parents think their children are in when it’s late at night and they haven’t returned home.

Yes, I know what you are thinking. Why don’t you track your daughter with a cell phone locator? You were thinking that, right? The truth is I did track her and I know she is still out with her friends in the hopping area of town about 20 miles away. Here’s the thing… I haven’t given my daughter a curfew since she arrived home from college, and now as I lie awake, I’m rethinking the whole curfew thing.

Actually, this summer, the teen curfew has been on my mind A LOT.

A week ago, my youngest son got his driver’s license. By law in Florida, new drivers under 16 must be home by 11 p.m. What a blessing for this law!! Because most of my son’s friends who drive are 16, too, I have temporary relief from late nights awake, waiting up for him to arrive home. But in just a few months, some of my son’s friends are turning 17, and that means their driving curfew by law gets pushed to 1 a.m.

I just don’t want my son out that late. When my fellow blogger Raquel and I chat about our experiences raising teens, we have often discussed how nothing good happens on the road after midnight. I tell my kids often that anyone on the road after midnight probably shouldn’t be on the road. Okay, so maybe I shouldn’t be soooo dramatic…not everyone on the road late at night is crazy or drunk, but the chances are much higher.

Informally, I’ve been polling other parents of teens, asking them how they handle the curfew situation. I’ve gotten a mixed bag of answers. My one friend sets her alarm to wake up at the time her teen is supposed to be home. Another gives her teen a curfew depending on the radius he is away from home. Another has a curfew set in stone and he enforces it strongly. My sister, who has two teen boys, keeps a certain light on in the house and she knows everyone is home safe when she wakes up and sees the light off.

When I think back on my teen years, curfew brings back memories of negotiation —  begging for more time. My sister and I even devised a plan where we would set the clock back to our curfew time before waking our mother up to let her know we were home safe.  At least I’m now on to that trick as a parent!

While by law my son has to abide by the 11 p.m. curfew as a driver, I have decided to give him a midnight curfew when he isn’t the driver.  I searched around a little online for some guidance. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends 12 to 13 years old should have a  10 p.m. curfew on weekends and 14 to 16 years old should have an 11 p.m. curfew. There’s not a whole lot of guidance after that. The  experts recommend setting a curfew regardless of age because it sets clear boundaries for your teen. But here’s the important part — If you set a curfew, you have to enforce it!

In their book “Raising Resilient Children,” Dr. Sam Goldstein and therapist Robert Brooks say the consequences should fit the crime and teens should be aware of the rules and consequences in advance.

Here are a few dos and don’ts of teen  curfews that experts recommend on healthline:

Dos

Communicate. Involve your teen in the initial curfew discussion and mention the agreed upon time before they leave the house. Make it clear that if there is an issue, you expect a call before the curfew.

Be reasonable. Make the curfew based on the event and be aware of who’s driving, where they are going, and the transportation issues. Sometimes, a teen who is a passenger can’t demand the driver take them home by a certain time.

Don’ts

Negotiate. After agreeing upon a time, stick to it. If curfew is broken, there should be consequences.

Overlook good behavior. If your teen shows reliability over a period of time, you might want to consider extending  the curfew a half hour.

While I plan to take those dos and don’ts into consideration, I have pretty much decided my weekend nights will never be the same with teens in the house. (Please ignore the bags under my eyes!) I just can’t sleep tightly until everyone is home and that means there is going to be a lot of negotiation and exhaustion. (Did I mention my husband sleeps soundly regardless of who is still out?) I think setting a midnight curfew for my 16-year-old son when he isn’t driving is a step in the right direction — at least for now.

I’d love to hear your experiences setting a curfew. Any dos and don’ts you can share?

When Your Teens’ Friends Start Driving

I will never forget the day my son Jake’s friend pulled into the driveway an hour after she got her driver’s license. She already had two other kids in the car and wanted him to go for a ride. When I told him no way, he was furious with me. It was the start of months of negotiation with Jake over driving rules and arguments that lasted beyond the day he got his own license.

Slowly, I have eased into the idea of my teens driving with other teens. Not because I want to, but because I have had to give in to keep myself sane.

Now, here I am again with my younger son starting the negotiations again. Garret is six months away from being eligible to get his license, but his friends have started to get theirs. To me there’s is nothing scarier than letting your teen drive with a new driver! There are so many distracted drivers on the roads today, which makes lack of experience even more worrisome.

One of my friends doesn’t let her daughter drive with anyone who hasn’t had his or her license for a month. She also has told her daughter she is not allowed to take any passengers in her car for a month after she gets her license. I agree with my friend that it is definitely easier for a new driver to concentrate without passengers in the car.

For me, enforcing a rule like that is hard.  If I tell my Garret he can’t drive with friends, he will get left out. Last weekend, some of my son’s friends went to the beach together. One of the boys, who has had his license a month was going to drive.  I wanted to drive him myself to the beach.  However, he told me I was making him look like a baby and he would rather stay home than have me drive him separately. I gave in, said my prayers, and breathed relief when he got home. My son told me a mom of one of the other boys who went with them tracked her son on his phone the whole time and called to question him when they stopped at the mall after the beach.

So far, I don’t have any set rules with Garret, nor have I felt the need to track my son when he is out with friends. I have let Garret drive with a friend who I feel is responsible, and I have said no to driving with one who gets easily distracted. In the meantime, I am preparing myself for the day he gets his license and the independence and the inevitable parental worries that goes with it.

So parents, am I too lenient to let my son drive with new drivers? How have you handled your teen being a passenger in a car with a teen driver? Do you have any rules?

Teen Trouble With The Law

When I was a teen, the only encounter I had with the law was either getting a speeding ticket or getting in a minor accident when I rear ended someone during spring break in Ft. Lauderdale.

Nowadays, teen trouble with the law happens more than parents care to admit. Teens of course are still speeding, or distracted driving and getting into accidents. However,  it seems like the severity of their accidents are worse. Some young teens will steal their parent’s car without having a license,  end up getting into an accident because of their joy ride and total the car.  When that happens,  parents often are left with fixing or replacing the vehicle, not to mention a possible arrest and ticket for driving without a license.

Parents of course do not want this on their teen’s record because this isn’t just a normal moving violation, this is breaking the law. This will require an attorney to ensure your teen does not carry a record with him all his life.

Most parents don’t have a criminal attorney on speed dial. I know from my personal experience, I had no clue who to turn to when faced with a similar situation. I ended up asking a police officer friend for a lawyer referral.  I was lucky and that lawyer turned out to be fantastic. The experience changed my life and my daughter Olivia’s. The legal process and potential consequences without proper legal representation was scary.

I remember talking with the attorney and hoping everything would turnout okay. This was all new to me. I was concerned, yet I had to be strong for my daughter whom I wanted to strangle for putting me through this.

Going to court with her the day of her hearing, I was sick to my stomach and fearing the worst. Fortunately for her, the judge ordered her do community service hours and instructed her that she had to maintain  a 3.0 GPA. If she did all she was ordered  within the period he gave us, he would expunge this from her record. Relief came over me and I was grateful to have a great attorney who was experienced with cases like this.

I want to  encourage parents who are raising teens — or will be in the near future – to be aware and prepared for what may come and make sure they have access to the right resources. Even responsible teens can mess up.

I recently learned about ARAG, a national company that offers legal insurance to families and who is also a sponsor for Raising Teens blog. Legal insurance plans protect consumers and their families against life’s legal issues, by giving you access to a nationwide network of attorneys and  legal resources. I wish I knew about legal insurance when I went through my daughter’s legal issues. I was fortunate to have had a great attorney but some people are not as lucky. ARAG offers help and resources that could be beneficial to families with teens. I highly recommend you check them out because having legal insurance would have saved me money and peace of mind.

A parent cannot predict what their teen will do – drive drunk, use a fake ID, get caught with weed –  but when they do, you will be prepared.

Raising a teen is not easy in today’s world, we need all the help we can get from each other, and outside resources to ensure we raise our teens safely and with proper morals.

I am curious to hear of any teen vs the law stories you may have had and how your experience turned out?

Teens who text while driving

One day my son came home with a dilemma. He asked a friend for a ride home from high school. Although she was doing him a favor, she began texting while driving and he didn’t know what to do. When he told me, I could understand his reluctance to speak up, but I explained that saying something could save both their lives. Teens today just have a hard time staying off their phones.

Our guest blogger today, Donna Fitzgerald, has an interesting perspective to share on teaching teens about texting and driving.  She is the mother of two teenage daughters, Chloe and Stephanie.

 

teenonphone

 

 

Here is Donna’s perspective:

Raising teenage daughters can be tough- and overcoming the challenges of keeping your children safe when they first begin driving can be difficult. With the current age, teens are over-connected with their social networking platforms, through the constant use of smart phones. With new drivers, its often challenging to have our teens pay more attention to the road, than their phone.

I am saddened when I learn of teens who were severely injured, or lives were taken because of automobile accidents. Majority of the time, the teen was either texting on their phone, or engaging in some other type of distracting behavior. Usually, these accidents are very preventable and should be of more concern to parents raising teens today.

The task of having the first talk with your teens, to discuss the serious consequences of texting and driving can be overwhelming. You might ask yourself- where do I begin? Will my child take me seriously? How do I effectively communicate how serious texting and driving can be? With the teenage mindset, (my own daughters included) most of our children believe they have all the knowledge in the world regarding the seriousness of texting and driving.

I too, was a parent who struggled to have my two teenage daughters listen, and seriously comprehend my conversation with them regarding the topic. Most of the time, my daughter would say “Mom- I would never text and drive,” or, “Mom- do you actually think something like that could happen to me?” In reality, we are all thinking- Yes, it could happen to you (and you are wishing your teens would take you seriously)!

Recently, to overcome this sometimes extremely difficult conversation to have, I came across a resource designed to assist parents in communicating effectively with their teens. The resource, How to Talk to Teens about Distracted Driving, gave me excellent tips on ways that I can protect my two daughters as they begin driving. The guide was extremely easy to navigate, and extremely beneficial for helping your teens take you more seriously.

In my experience, one of the greatest and most compelling areas of the resource guide that my two daughters found useful (and actually listened to) was the section video titled “One Text, Two Lives – The consequences of Texting and Driving.” The video is located under the Q & A Section of the website.

Be sure to visit the site for tips regarding initiating the very important conversation with your teens. The site even features a section for teenagers regarding what they can do to protect their friends while driving.

Time for the permit..give me strength

My daughter Olivia, turns 17 today. I know she was hoping by now she would have her permit and possibly her license, but circumstances stopped that from happening because of her poor choices. I have to admit, I am very relieved she hasn’t been driving. However, I know its time for her to get her permit… UGH.. the one thing I am dreading!

I signed her up this summer at a high school to take Drivers Education  for 4 hours a day for 3 weeks. She loves it. I want her to be taught properly the rules of the road and the law as well. She is really enjoying it and is getting school credit as well.

She is suppose to have a driving log, which means I am suppose to drive with her weekly. I told her that I don’t think I could do it. It just freaks me out the thought of her in that crazy traffic world. It’s scary for me. She has not clue how crazy and stupid other drivers are and that if she doesn’t drive defensively she could end up dead. I know she is excited and this is a big stage in her life, but Mom doesn’t like this stage of life. Mom wants her daughter safe at home. I know that isn’t realistic. Sooner or later, Olivia has to be able to live and deal with the real world.. ugly as it may be at times.

I told her I would pay for a driving school because I simply can not teach her myself. I am a nervous wreck and that will not help her while she is driving.

Funny thing is, now she corrects me when I drive. Maybe I need to go back to drivers ed?

Do you drive with your teen? Do they make you nervous?  Did you teach your teen to drive or do you think Driver’s Ed is the way to go?

 

Why I’m considering a teen driving contract

My stomach has been in knots since last Monday when my daughter got her driver’s license. She has taken to the streets — in my car!!!

I’m a wimp. I hate her out on the road. Since she got her license a week ago, I’ve only let her use my car to go on short errands. Slowly, I’m getting used to the idea that she’s behind the wheel of my car without my supervision.

Recently, a mom in my neighborhood mentioned she made her son sign a contract when he got his license and a car. I thought that was a great idea and asked my neighbor for a copy of the contract. She hasn’t shared it with me yet.

But in the meantime, an email landed in my inbox that convinced me this is something I need to do. These contracts are agreements between parents and teen driver that explain what to expect when the automobile is driven responsibly and when its driven by the teen driver irresponsibly.

“Teen Driving contracts are easy to create, and really do help save lives,” says Aurelia Williams of parentingmyteen.com.

Williams has provided a sample contract that you can use for your teen: Click here.

I’m going to modify the contract a little, playing up the no cell phone use a little stronger. But this sample is definitely a good starting point. If you teen isn’t driving yet, you might want to print this sample contract. I think it will prove to be helpful when the time arrives.

Parents, if you have a teen driving contract that differs from this sample, please share. If you are totally against the idea of a driving contract, let’s hear about that, too.

 

 

 

What happens when mom isn’t ready for daughter to get license?

Would you show this fatal drunk driving crash video to your teen?

Teens are going to drink. They will. I’m resigned to that because I already see my 18-year-old nephew doing it. But will they drink and drive?

Probably.

Many of them will figure it’s just a few blocks to home or their dorm room and take a chance.

So parents, how bad do you want to scare them into thinking twice about drinking and driving? And,  is there anything that still shocks teens?

Maybe.

A teenager, whose camera was rolling as her two friends died in a drunk driving crash wants other young people to see and hear the gut-wrenching video. Desaleen James, 18, was inside the car when she took the video and is the sole survivor.  The video aired on CBS News shows three young women – one drunk behind the wheel – headed home from a Maryland nightclub on December 29th, 2011. It captures one of the women in the car saying, “We’re driving drunk.” (A police report confirms the driver was more than twice the legal limit for intoxication. )

 

The video also captured the crash and  continues to roll from inside the mangled car for 21 minutes, capturing the sounds of the desperate rescue attempt.  The 22-year-old driver and 19-year-old passenger were both killed. Desaleen James, 18, who videotaped the entire night, survived, suffering a broken hip. She was buckled up in the front passenger seat.

“Maybe I here to save someone else. I wouldn’t want even my worst enemy to walk in my shoes right now,”  says Desaleen, who talks about how easy it was to get alcohol in a club, even at 18.

Car crashes are the leading cause of death among teens – one out of three is alcohol related, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving statistics based on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The good news is that the number of DUI fatalities has actually gone down in the U.S. in recent years. But wow, this video is painful and powerful!

Parents, check out the video. Do you think it would have any affect on your teen’s choices?

 

Click here for link to video

 

See the follow up video:

Why only parents need driver’s licenses

 

My daughter turned 16 yesterday. Yep, I’m thinking about hiding the car keys.

I remember how excited I was to turn 16. It meant I could finally take my mother’s orange Nova for a spin on my own. I picked up a few of my friends and drove around the neighborhood. Oh yeah…I was hot stuff!

My daughter is just as excited to get her license as I was decades ago. She, too, thinks she’s hot stuff behind the wheel.

For the last year, I’ve sat like zombie in the passenger seat, letting out gasps as I teach her to drive. Truthfully, she’s not a great driver, yet. She brakes abruptly, doesn’t notice cars about to back into her in parking lots and she’s still figuring out how to change lanes. She needs more practice, and some lessons. Of course, she thinks she’s ready for me to turn over the keys and abandon the passenger seat.

Last night, I was telling her not to pull over at night just because she sees flashing lights behind her. I gave her the lecture about how some weirdos try to “pretend” to be police officers. She thinks I’m insane. Maybe I am….there’s just that extra layer of insanity that kicks in for parents when your kid is alone on the road.

Life would be so much easier if just parents were given driver’s licenses.

Apparently, most teens aren’t in a rush to get their licenses. More are delaying that freewheeling rite of passage. I just read an article in the Sun-Sentinel that said teens aren’t all that interested in driving.  Many are waiting way beyond their 16th birthday. The article gives three reasons why:

First, teens care much more about connecting with each other electronically than in person. Second, owning and insuring a car and filling it up with gas is expensive. Lastly, kids don’t want to make the time to learn to drive — they’re too busy with homework and all the school demands.

Personally, I think it’s a good thing that kids are waiting longer to drive — especially when texting and driving is a huge problem. When I drop my kids at high school, I get a firsthand look at how teens drive and I have one word to describe it— SCARY!

What do you think about the trend of teens waiting longer to get their driver’s licenses? Do you think it’s a good thing — more mature, more responsible? Or do teens need the practice to start young and become better drivers? What do you consider the perfect age for someone to get their license?

 

 

When your teen daughter starts to drive…

The other day, I agreed to let my daughter drive to a nearby strip center. Of course, I should have swallowed valium first. She has been driving for a few months now and I didn’t realize that she hadn’t mastered  the parking lot. As she drove along looking for a spot, she had no idea that a car was backing out of spot right into our car. Yikes! I held my breath and stomped on the imaginery passenger side brake. Fortunately, my daughter was stepping on the gas and we managed to clear the other car by seconds.

Being the mother of a teen driver is petrifying. I found a blog post by my news pal, Glenna Milberg, so easy to relate to and I’m pretty sure you will too. Here’s a snippet of the post:

Note to my daughters: Did you see it on the newscast?

The pieces of car scattered across 836? Did you see their pictures? The
driver was 17, just like you. She was out loving life with her best girls, I’m sure, just like you do.

I know what you’re thinking (insert eye-roll here). You’re thinking something
like, “(Sigh), here comes another one of my mom’s teachable moments,
another one of her talks, her life-lessons.”

Yes. And I know you are listening. I know it’s sinking in on some level, because
you’ve been getting them your whole life, since the day you started pre-school.

Back then, your little friends’ moms would typically give me “looks” when
I would ask before a play date about a pool fence, any gun in the house, a dog
that might bite.

“Who thinks about that stuff?” they would ask.

I do, because I’ve seen it, covered it, and want to learn from it, that’s why.

Click here to read more.

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