Raising Teens

A site for parents of teens striving for sanity

Tag: teen drivers

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?

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.

 

 

 

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?

 

 

Tracking Device for teen drivers?

My husband recently told me about an article he read on CNN.com   regarding spying on your teen driver by using a tracking device.

I haven’t decided whether my daughter will find it intrusive or a reason she can start driving even sooner. Mom can track her so no reason for worries. Wrong! Even with a tracking device,  a parent still does not have control over other drivers.

I told my daughter about this article and the tracking device and she said, “I hope you don’t put that in my car someday. All that device does is give kids a reason to go against parents wishes. The device just shows kids that our parents don’t trust us. That only leads to kids finding ways to out smart their parents. You are better off trusting your child so you don’t tempt them to betray you. Kids can park their cars at their friend’s house and go into another car and then go where their parents did not want them to go.”

So then I asked her if I didn’t put the device in her car and just trusted her outright would she listen to me and my rules. She said she would. Well, I will have to take her word on that. Let’s see if that holds true when the time comes.

I ask you, do you think these tracking devices will help ease your worries or will your worries still be there?  Is the device worth it if it means your teens think you don’t trust them, encouraging them to find ways to outsmart you?

Should we just be honest with our teens and communicate our concerns and give them rules and guidelines to abide so they wont feel the need to deceive us?  No matter how you feel or what you decide, teen driving still is stressful on parents.

Tracking Device for teen drivers?

My husband recently told me about an article he read on CNN.com   regarding spying on your teen driver by using a tracking device.

I haven’t decided whether my daughter will find it intrusive or a reason she can start driving even sooner. Mom can track her so no reason for worries. Wrong! Even with a tracking device,  a parent still does not have control over other drivers.

I told my daughter about this article and the tracking device and she said, “I hope you don’t put that in my car someday. All that device does is give kids a reason to go against parents wishes. The device just shows kids that our parents don’t trust us. That only leads to kids finding ways to out smart their parents. You are better off trusting your child so you don’t tempt them to betray you. Kids can park their cars at their friend’s house and go into another car and then go where their parents did not want them to go.”

So then I asked her if I didn’t put the device in her car and just trusted her outright would she listen to me and my rules. She said she would. Well, I will have to take her word on that. Let’s see if that holds true when the time comes.

I ask you, do you think these tracking devices will help ease your worries or will your worries still be there?  Is the device worth it if it means your teens think you don’t trust them, encouraging them to find ways to outsmart you?

Should we just be honest with our teens and communicate our concerns and give them rules and guidelines to abide so they wont feel the need to deceive us?  No matter how you feel or what you decide, teen driving still is stressful on parents.

Teens choosing not to drive at 16

Confession: I’ve been letting my daughter drive in parking lots. She’s only 14. In a few months, she’ll be getting her permit. I want her to have tons of practice before she gets her real license. And, even with tons of practice, I’m terrified for her to be on the streets of South Florida.

I’m haunted by the scene at one of the worst funerals I have attended. It was for the sister of my close friend. Her 15-year-old daughter was practicing driving with her mom, misjudged a left turn and crashed the car. Her mother was killed. At the funeral, the daughter wept and wept and mumbled how she would never drive again.

This morning, the Sun Sentinel has an article about how fewer teens are racing to get their driver’s licenses when they turn 16. The statistics are pretty shocking: Only 30 percent of 16-year-olds nationwide got their license in 2008, compared with 44 percent in 1988.

What’s going on out there? There are several ways to interpret this trend: You might look at it this way: teens lack motivation. They are being coddled by their parents who serve as chauffeurs to our children.  (Mom can drive me, why should I bother to drive myself?)

Experts have a different explanation. They say today’s teen are scared to drive. Teens have the highest fatal crash rate of any age group. A good number of teens out there already have had friends in car accidents. Cell phones have made driving even more risky.

There’s another factor, too. Tens don’t need to go places as often because they can text or talk to friends on Facebook.

And of course, the economy may play in to the trend. Teens have less access to cars at home and fewer dollars to spend on gas, which is quelling their thirst for a license. Even more, annual insurance premiums aren’t cheap — about $2,200 according to Carinsurance.com.

Often, teens themselves feel they aren’t mature enough. When I was in high school, Driver’s Education was a required course. Today, it isn’t offered in most schools. Your kid has to go to a private driving school. Many of them are pushing that off for later.

Part of me looks forward to the day my daughter can help with the driving. My life will get easier when some of the driving is taken off my plate. But part of me is celebrating today’s news. Frankly, I don’t think a 16-year old boy is mature enough to drive. I’m thankful that teens are waiting longer to get their licenses, when they are more mature.

What about you, parents? Do you think this is a good trend or a sign of kids who lack motivation?

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