My husband didn’t get his driver’s license until he was 19. One of my favorite stories from his childhood is when his family rented mopeds in Florida and he had to ride in the sidecar of his mom’s bike. As a 19 year old. “Go faster!” he kept urging her. That experience inspired him to get his license that summer.
When we had kids, my husband always said he didn’t want them to get their licenses until they were 18. I was willing to wait until 17, but I thought 18 was ridiculous. I wanted them to have more experience before heading to college … and I wanted someone who could help with errands. As the kids got older and were involved in more activities, my husband sometimes had to be the runner. Suddenly he supported our kids getting their licenses at age 16.
I took our daughter to get her permit on her 16th birthday. She had prepped for the test, largely on her own, for several weeks; she passed with flying colors. We started practicing in an empty parking lot and soon graduated to local roads. Since I don’t really like to drive, my daughter got plenty of practice. After just three months with her permit, she drove five hours home from New Jersey while I “relaxed” (not quite!) in the seat next to her.
What a blessing it has been to have a teenage driver in our house! I mentioned in a previous post that I was in a fellowship program over the summer and wasn’t living at home. There’s no way I could have done that without my daughter being able to drive. Moreover, as homeschoolers, we have to get our kids to all of their activities without school buses. Having another driver makes that much easier. It also helps that I don’t have to get my daughter to and from her part-time job.
I’m shocked at how many kids have no interest in getting their licenses – and how many parents don’t want their children driving. While motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for teens, most teens will not have an accident and most accidents are preventable. Moreover, there is something to be said for having your child learn to drive while he or she has several years left of living at home under your guidance.
Learning to drive is a great way to teach responsibility, too. Kids can pay all or a portion of their car insurance and gas, which can help them understand and appreciate the costs involved in driving. Upkeep of the car can also be part of the deal. The threat of losing driving privileges is a powerful incentive for good behavior.
Having our oldest child learn to drive has been an educational experience for all of us. We know we need to remind her about safety and the risks of driving – especially as she becomes more confident in her abilities. That increased confidence is often what leads to teenage accidents. But all in all, it’s been a huge benefit for our family.
Colleen Hroncich loves that homeschooling allows her to learn right alongside her children. A published author and former policy analyst, Colleen’s favorite subjects are economics/public policy and history. She has been active in several homeschool co-ops and is a speech and debate coach.