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From the Experts at Driving MBA

 

 

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Parenting Teens . . . Continued

Parenting a teenager can be rewarding and challenging at the same time. Many teens "look" like adults and we in turn tend to treat them as if they were adults, however brain research tells us they do not have the capacity to "think" like adults. The frontal lobe - the part that weighs risks, makes judgments and controls impulsive behavior doesn't fully develop until age 25. In fact for males, it may develop as late as age 29. So, what are the implications of placing the responsibility of driving in the hands of a teenager? What it tells me, a parent of a teenager, is that this is a time when I need to be diligent and make decisions that are in my child's best interest. This will not always translate into decisions that make her happy. Driving is a privilege that must be earned. Just because a teenager turns sixteen does not automatically "entitle" them to a license. Unfortunately, some teens and even some parents believe it is an entitlement. Boundaries and rules need to be discussed and set early in the process, before they get their permit and most certainly before they get their license.

Ask a teenager what a license means to them. The answer usually is "freedom." Ask a teenager where they will be able to go once they get their license the answer usually is "anywhere." As parents it is our duty to insure that our children are prepared for the road ahead. Driving is probably the last life skill that we impart to our children. Why then, do we approach it so nonchalantly? Have you ever thought about the amount of time you took to research a car seat when they were a baby or the bicycle you bought them when they were toddlers or the gymnastics or soccer program you put them in when they were in middle school? Yet, when it comes to preparing them to drive we don't always make wise choices. We make convenient choices. What's easiest, what's the least time consuming, what's the minimum requirement?

If you've been on our web site you may have downloaded "What's YOUR Parenting Style?" Jeanne Fletcher of the Lisa Johnson Foundation created this document. Jeanne lost her daughter Lisa to a fatal car crash in January 2003. Jeanne also started the Lisa Johnson Foundation as a means to provide parents and teens with important information regarding driving. The parenting styles helps us take a look at how we approach our teen's driving but it can also be a window on how we approach a lot of decisions when it comes to our children. It is a mirror of sorts.

Lee Iacocca recently wrote a book entitled "Where Have All the Leaders Gone?" I would ask the same question about parents. We seem to have swung the pendulum where we went from a generation of parents that may have been "too harsh" in their parenting style to a generation of permissiveness. We need to remember that our role is to be parents, not friends. They have plenty of friends. What they need are parents to be their compass, their guide, their teacher and most of all to prepare them for a life journey. Driving is one of those life skills that need to be approached with careful thought and planning. The risk of not approaching it that way is far too high. Our children's lives are at stake if we don't.

 
 
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