Overhead electronic signs urge us to “click it or ticket,” drive defensively and refrain from texting. It’s all good advice, which too often tends to be ignored over time. That is why, dad, you need to be the constant reminder, the flashing sign, to your teenager who may be struggling to discern his left from his right.
A litany for
Read this brief dialogue aloud with your teen, who, we know, reached this milestone much too quickly:
Teen: The privilege of driving is something I’ve waited for a long time. I feel like I’ve reached a turning point in my life. Mom and Dad are both proud of me and nervous.
Teen: They know I’m legally old enough to drive, but they’re not convinced I’m ready to exercise good judgment and self-control. So they give me the keys and then they worry.
Dad: Amen again. But we hope we have taught you love, self-respect and self-control and that you will apply those precepts to your behavior behind the wheel.
Teen: Driving a car gives me tremendous freedom. It’s great not to depend on someone else to go places – I can go anywhere.
Dad: Enjoy your new freedom but use it wisely. When you’re in the car, remember what we have instilled in you, to love your neighbor as yourself. Your neighbors are all of those strangers on the road with you.
Teen: Yep, I guess I’ve never thought of it that way before. We’re all neighbors sharing the same streets and highways.
Dad: More than that. Every time you drive, you possess the power of life and death over yourself and those on the road. A car has the potential to be deadlier than any gun or bomb. Driving is an awesome responsibility.
Teen: A ton and a half of metal traveling 60 miles an hour does pack a lot of power.
Dad: When you climb into the driver’s seat, it’s no longer acceptable to say, ‘It’s my life. Leave me alone!’ This just is not true. When you and I are on the road, we trust each other with our lives. Breaking this trust comes at a high price. The price can be killing someone you love – or killing someone that I or someone else loves. A simple apology won’t do. A sob story doesn’t cut it. No excuse is acceptable if an accident is due to ignorance, silliness, carelessness, or impaired driving.
Teen: What? You mean I’ve waited all these years to hear that my freedom requires restraint?
Dad: Yes, indeed. I wish you many more years of freedom. Drive carefully. I promise I’ll do the same for you.
Tom Tozer and Bill Black are authors of “Dads2Dads: Tools for Raising Teenagers.” Like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter @dads2dadsllc. Contact them at [email protected]