Should You Make Your Child Learn To Drive?

As someone who wound up learning to drive in her late twenties and only passed once she had two kids, I really wish I’d done it sooner. It’s given me so much more freedom and made family life much easier. However, I found scheduling lessons around childcare and adjusting as a new driver with a screaming newborn (and sometimes a screaming two-year-old too) in the backseats more than a little stressful. I kind of think I should have done it when I was younger, with less responsibilities and inhibitions. It’s made me think I’d really like to encourage my girls to get their licenses as soon as possible, when they come of age. With that in mind, this guest post hit an interesting note.

In many cases, teenagers can’t wait to start driving lessons, study for their driving theory test and get their driving license. It’s a key rite of passage and is one way eager teens can gain a degree of independence. Access to a car potentially means the world – or at least the whole country – is a teenager’s oyster.

What if your teen isn’t so keen to learn? Perhaps their seventeenth birthday is coming up and there’s no real interest in booking driving lessons, buying the latest Highway Code, preparing for the driving theory test and taking to the open road? If this is the case, should you make your teen learn?

Motivation

You shouldn’t make them do anything, instead support them and help them to make the best decision for their circumstances. When there’s no interest or motivation, no one does anything very successfully. It would probably be a waste of money, effort and time – not just your teenager’s effort and time, either. As a parent you’d likely spend time helping them learn such as practising between lessons and helping with revision for their driving theory test.

Instead of forcing them into these sessions you should spend your time going through the pros and cons and looking to offer reassurance and assistance if that’s all they need to find that all-important motivation.

Learning to drive takes concentrated effort – some 45 hours of driving lessons backed by just over 20 hours of work between lessons according to the AA Driving School. It’s too significant to be done half-heartedly.

Why doesn’t your teen want to learn?

It’s important to understand why they may not be keen.

Apathy – Possibly they haven’t thought of the implications of not learning, and can’t drum up much enthusiasm because they don’t feel they’re likely to drive once they’ve got their full license? Perhaps you can diplomatically help your teen understand it’s an ‘investment for the future’ even if they may not be driving in the short term and will greatly enhance their job prospects.

Maybe they’ve heard so much negative information about how expensive insurance and car running costs are? Perhaps they’ve got ‘a conscience’ about the effects of cars on the environment? Perhaps you live in a city and they’re used to taking buses everywhere and think driving is a ‘waste of time’.

Whatever the reason – or reasons – try to have a constructive discussion about it. Above all, don’t try to lecture them or point out the error of their ways. People are different – even one’s own offspring – and they may decide in a year’s time they’d like to learn. It’s really about being at that ‘point of readiness’.

Mental blocks – perhaps they have a fear of driving? Some teens are very gung-ho about learning
to drive, others possess some trepidation but are otherwise keen to learn, while others are genuinely fearful.

Perhaps their fears can be talked through sympathetically and you can try a ‘softly softly’ approach? Maybe offer to drive them around quietly somewhere such as a disused airfield and invite them to have a try at driving under no pressure.

If their fears are more deep-seated, then professional help may be worth considering. Care is needed here, though – it’ll be a lot easier if your child is keen to overcome their fear and remove it as an obstacle. If they’re resistant to the idea, then demanding they ‘get help’ may not be wise. Maybe reassurance from you is what they need in the long run.

It may not be for everyone

There are many examples of people who never learnt to drive, and others who took their tests later in life. Your teen will learn as and when they’re ready – just be prepared to help them make the decision if their lack of confidence is holding them back.

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