10 Essentials for Parents Who Drive Teens and Tweens

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“Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaasssse take me to the _____ to get the new ____, I need it, I will die if I don’t get it!”

Man, looking back my mother has been a chauffeur for the past 25 years and will be for another 4 until my youngest sister drives.  We never, ever appreciated it (until now, thanks Mom!).  Thinking about this astounding fact, made me want to write a post about helping parents drive teens.  There are tons of posts to help teen drivers, but parent of teen drivers need way more support!

1. Car Washes Are Good

The best way to get a teen or tween to treat your car right is to make them wash it.  In my house we had a car washing program, where every other weekend from age 11 to 17 we had to wash the cars to earn our car.  Can I just tell you that if our friends wanted to leave their gum wrapper in my mom’s car, we were all over them like Cher on sequins.  We had to clean it, so we treated it well.

2. Bank on a Teen’s Desire to Drive Themselves

All teen’s and tweens want to eventually have their own car.  If they want you to drive them somewhere ask them what they are doing in return.  Or set-up a car wash plan like we had in our house so they feel like they are earning it.

3. Logs Are Helpful

If you have lots of kids, or one kid with lots of engagements I would keep a lot of your driving time, gas and mileage so they can really see how much time you spend in the car for them.  I did this recently with a client family so the kids could appreciate the mom’s driving more and they were floored to see that (shocking to them only I am sure!) that it was over $400 in gas per week and mom was spending on average 20 hours in the car driving them per week!

4. Have Rules and Guidelines

Make these clear.  Many times kids will keep snacking in your new car because there is not set rule against it.  I find that the “You know I hate when you do that” means nothing to kids.  What does make sense is, “There is no food or drink in this car, you must wait until we get home.”  Make a list of your car rules including not distracting the driver or hitting your sibling on the freeway and discuss it with them.  Seating is always so tense.  In my house everyone wanted front, no one wanted middle…and it was always a fight.  Make some rules or guidelines on seating, it will take pressure off siblings who feel like they always HAVE to stake their claim even when they really do not care.

5. Make Expectations Clear

On this same note,  I think teens and parents have a totally different set of expectations for each other when it comes to car rides.  Parents see it as bonding time, kids see it as relax and unwind after school time.  I would have a talk with them about what you want long or after-school car rides to be like.  This will help you get less snappy attitude when they climb in after a dance.

6. Pack Right

Always, and I mean always have water bottles, granola bars or snacks, wet wipes, tissues and hand sanitizer in the car.  These items often get lost after toddlerhood and kiddiedom, but let me tell you, when I had a bad day the fact that my mom could pull out a water bottle and some tissues meant a lot.  Plus, teens eat weird, low blood sugar makes us snotty…fresh snacks are good.

7. Listen Well

Here is an article I wrote on the Best Car Music for Teens and Families, get this part covered, it will save you from so many fights!

8. Don’t Interview for Pain, but ask questions

Just for a second, especially when your kid is cranky, remember what it was like to be in a car with your parents and avoid interviewing for pain.  Yet, the car is a great great place to bond, just ask the right questions at the right time.

9. Quiet Time Can Be Essential

Sometimes sitting in silence can be good…really good for your relationship (especially with teen and tween boys), show them you can just enjoy each other’s company without talking sometimes.

10. Drive the Way You Would Want Them Too

New teen and parent driving surveys were just released by State Farm that revealed parents aren’t practicing what they preach while behind the wheel. Parents are following a “do as I say, not as I do” mentality when teaching their teens to drive and may unknowingly be contributing to their teens’ risky driving behaviors.

*65 percent of parents talk on cell phones at least sometimes while driving; however 94 percent restrict their teens from doing the same.

* 68 percent of parents are in a hurry at least sometimes when they drive

* 65 percent of parents drive when they are tired at least sometimes

Have your own suggestions and additions on this topic? I hope so! Of course, as always feel free to leave them in the comments.  But, I started the first editable parenting book on a wiki.  Here I am having you, my readers publish and edit my articles and add to them as they please:

-Like Wikipedia, but for parents!
-If you are a blogger, you can post link to your articles on the topic for other readers.
-Vote on your favorite parenting advice
-See what teens think of your advice (they vote too!)

Check out the editable version of this article on Driving Teens and Tweens in our Wiki and other reader’s additions here!

This post is dedicated to Chris Cuellar, because he often endured having to drive with my parents as my very first boyfriend and survived…and still speaks to me!

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One Response to “10 Essentials for Parents Who Drive Teens and Tweens”

  1. Dylan
    May 26, 2009 at 11:06 am #

    One thing I want to say about teen driving is that it is really awkward sometimes sometimes having your mom or dad on top of your shoulders. If you really want your kids to learn, let them drive by themself for awhile.

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