As my kids have grown, I have always reminded myself and my spouse that independence is the goal. We have taught our kids what they will need to know as they grow so that ideally, they will become more and more independent. There are plenty of things that I have chosen to teach my kids to do themselves instead of them relying on us to do for them.
Our son is approaching 17 and recently got his driver’s license. Although he does not have his own car yet, he has the ability to drive one of our cars when we are not using it. Suddenly, I feel like I am under a parenting test. How much have I REALLY taught my son? He is in this world all by himself. Thankfully, we have had the past year to teach him to drive and get plenty of practice in.
Before he hit the road, here are a few things we made sure our son knew how to do before driving alone: (We practiced all of these things while driving around with his permit, too.)
- Pay for and pump gas
- Go to the grocery store & navigate the aisles
- Know where the insurance card & registration is kept in case it is needed
- Drive-thru etiquette
- Carpool procedures to pick up his sibling
Calming my anxiety while my son is on the road is not easy. I have to lean in on what I have taught him already. We have gone through numerous safety scenarios, and he drove with us as practice for over a year. Waiting until he was almost 17, gave him time to mature, and it gave us plenty of practice time. Seeing our son as an almost adult is terrifying but also beautiful. I still see that little 4-year-old boy who loved to tell me all about Bakugans and would drive around playing Mario Cart on his Wii, but also as a young man who is learning and growing as he figures out this big ‘ole world.