One of the of the most fun things about having a blog is meeting some amazing people who have lots of great advice and insight – then inviting them to guest blog. I was introduced to Marci Seither by Rachel McPherson who is helping Marci get the word out on her new book, Empty Nest. Wow am I grateful. As a mother of six and seeker of Truth – as well as the humor in life – Marci has great words of wisdom and encouragement to offer. Feel free to check out Marci’s blog for more fun stuff. I think you will be glad you did. Listen, she had me at “Student Driver”!
Thanks so much for sharing, Marci … best of luck on your book. And, as always, thanks for walking the road with me.
I think parents should take a Lamaze refresher course when their teenager gets a driver’s permit. We have been down this bumpy road with our oldest three children. While they all managed to get through the course there were times when the “pant-blow” method would have come in handy.
When our second child, Emma, received her driver’s permit I had magnetic “Student Driver” signs made for both sides of the car as well as the back. I thought it would be wise to alert unsuspecting motorists that the reason we were often straddling the middle line was not due to mechanical trouble or altered awareness. Emma was appalled that I would be so un-cool.
Defeated, I slapped the large sign on the front of my refrigerator. “What’s the sign for?” my friend asked one day.
“It is a reminder that every meal may be my last,” I sighed.
We practiced backing up and pulling forward for hours. A month later Emma suggested we actually leave the driveway. Reluctantly, I slid into the passenger seat and tried to be cheerful. The car lurched forward in a series of sputtering movements. I wondered if chiropractic care was included in our medical policy and tried to be positive despite.
Stay calm, this is parent/teen bonding time. This is going to be fine. You did the same thing to your mother. “Maybe we better learn on the automatic instead.” I suggested.
She just rolled her eyes as if her retinas had temporarily detached. “I already know everything there is to know about driving, I just need more practice.”
While my daughter needed a class in parallel parking and safely checking over her shoulder BEFORE changing lanes, I realized I needed a crash course in patience.
Emma didn’t pass her test on the first attempt due to running a stop sign. I took the instructor’s name and address and sent flowers. On her second attempt I saw her smiling for the small photo that would be laminated on her real license.
Frantically I looked for a focal point and started to pant-blow.
Teaching our kids to be independent is not always easy but it is important, not just for driving, but for navigating life’s highways and back roads.
Five tips that might help ensure you and your teen don’t drive each other crazy during this part of your parenting adventure.
1. Set aside time to go over all of the vehicle basics. This includes changing the tire in the safety of your drive way. I know that most people have cell phones and road side assistance, but there are times when cell service isn’t available, so make sure they know how to respond to an emergency so they don’t feel helpless. They also need to know about tire pressure and what kind of oil to add should they need it
~ Being ready to take action verses being in a state of reaction is valuable.
2. Make the rules very clear and set the standard high. I don’t care if our teen can drive with one hand or knows people who keep the stereo cranked so loud it makes their ears bleed. Read the driver’s handbook from the DMV and make sure they practice it. Keeping both hands on the wheel isn’t just something that moms come up!
~ We live by rules all the time. The next task they might need to learn is how to file taxes or set up personal banking and the rules are very defined.
3. Set aside time to work with your teen and set limits. Plan a day trip and let them drive or wait until they are on vacation so they can concentrate better and are not in a hurry. I used to do what I called the “coffee test”. If their driving resulted in causing me to spill we agreed that they would pull over, no excuses or exceptions, and let me drive for the remainder of the day and we pick another time to start over.
~ Making a schedule is important. Sometimes we can add things to our “to-do” list, but being able to learn how to find healthy time management is a valuable life skill.
4. Be aware of the stress level you might be projecting on your teen. If you are on edge then your teen will be as well. I know that our oldest son got nervous if my voice raised while making any corrections.
I went from sounding like someone calling out Zumba instructions “See that car with it’s hazard lights on! You might want to start breaking….NOW. Now!” to the Curves background voice, telling patrons to move to the next station. “The car in the far right lane seems to be having difficulty. Begin taping on your breaks…tap…tap…tap.”
~ Everyone has a limit and it is important to know what your limitations are. Don’t cause more drama that is needed.
5. Acknowledge that this is a big transition for both of you and assure your teen that you want to help them succeed and move forward toward independence so that they will be ready to leave the nest when that time comes as well. Buckle up and start your engines, the parenting ride isn’t over. Kids might need to take the test several times. Don’t quit.
~ Life is an adventure, enjoy the journey and if you feel yourself starting to panic…find a focal point and breathe.
Marci’s Bio: I am a lot of things, among them are stress knitter, coffee lover, truth seeker, story teller, and apron maker. But, the most important job I have is being a mom to six awesome kids who have provided my husband John and me with loads of laundry, symphonies of laughter and volumes of great writing material.
Empty Nest … Check it Out