parenting

Parenting: When Should Your Teen Get Their Drivers Permit?

parentingages and stages

I know from having 4 children that no matter how old your children get, they will always remain your babies. When your children reach the driving age and the law says they are old enough to get behind the wheel of a car, how do you know if your teen is ready? Are they really ready to get their drivers permit at 15 and license at 16? Driving a car is a privilege, and just because you are 16 does not mean you are ready for that privilege.

Car Keys

Teens need to earn the privilege to drive through positive behavior and showing that they are responsible. Ultimately, parents need to decide whether their teen is ready for the responsibility and independence that comes with that little plastic card. My son is 15, he will be 16 in April and we had to determine if he was ready to get that drivers permit and drive. We decided to ask ourselves some questions and see if he passed our test. Here are some of the things we thought about to help determine whether or not we thought he was ready to drive.

When Should Your Teen Get Their Drivers Permit?

Here are some ideas for how to determine if your teen is ready to get their drivers permit.

Rules and Curfew

Nobody likes a curfew when they are young. If your teen knows that their weekend curfew is at 11:00pm, do they show up on time or are they consistently 30 minutes late? Does your teen feel the need to defy authority, no matter whom it is or what they are trying to say? A teen that is not responsible enough to be home by curfew or listen to teachers and other authority figures might not be responsible enough to follow speed limits and rules of the road.

Homework and Grades

Homework is a part of life for a teenager, whether they like it or not. Does your teen complete homework on their own without being constantly reminded, asking for help only when they are stuck, or do you have to remind them 10 times a night because they forget over and over? Studies have shown over and over that the better the student does (in school), the better equip they are to get their drivers permit and learn to drive well.

Emotions

Does your teen make rational, well thought out decisions? Do they keep a cool head in a stressful situation?  Or do they sit in the car and pout if they don’t get to choose the restaurant for dinner or if you have to make a stop for dry cleaning and errands but they just want to get home? A teen that is able to handle their emotions, even when things go awry, and can curb their anger in stressful situations is a teen that is ready to drive.

Your Need Vs Their Desire

When I turned 17 all I thought about was getting my drivers permit (I was living in Europe and the driving age differs from the States). Things are very different now. I have seen a recent spike in teenagers not wanting or feeling the need to get a license as soon as they turn 16. My son is one of them. He decided to get his drivers permit this last month which means he won’t be eligible to get his license until 6 months after his 16th birthday. Teens that say they are not ready to drive should not be pushed or cajoled into it. Keep in mind that if YOU are more excited for them to get their license than they are you might want to stop and think about why you want them to drive. Do you need help with pick up/drop off for sports or after school activities? Do you need a second driver for soccer practice and milk/bread runs? When they are ready, they will let you know. Pushing them into something they are not ready for will only have bad results. Every teen is different, even teens within the same family. When they turn 16, one teen might be the uber-careful, curfew abiding driver of your dreams, while another might abuse their new-found freedom.

Always remember, driving is a privilege, and until the age of 18 it's up to parents to decide whether their particular teens are ready to get behind the wheel of the car. Oh and parents, don’t forget your insurance can as much as double with teen drivers on the policy. Congrats on having a teen who is ready to drive, and good luck.

When do you feel is the best time to have your teen get their drivers permit?

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