The first thing to know about teaching your teen to drive is that you can’t. Face it, you’re a helpless dinosaur and driving has changed. Cars are electric, old sport! You may as well try to explain what a milkman or the middle class is. Buckle up and shut up.
Your role is ATM and silent, totally nonjudgmental observer, dude. The online driving school video says this, in three languages. The only reason you’re even in the car is because it’s illegal for your teen to operate the vehicle without you. And remember, in six months you won’t be in the car at all, which you’re unlikely to ever see again.
When your teen cancels all your painstakingly calculated seat and mirror presettings in seconds, do not speak. This will break his concentration, which is limited to short, frenzied bursts, like spawning salmon or your grandmother with coupons. Your teen knows the right settings for optimum driver comfort and operational safety because he saw a 20-minute video about it last week.
Backing out of the driveway is your first test of parental love, and your cat’s survival instinct. Refrain from sharing any of your 40+ years of driving experience, which is not only irrelevant, but wicked annoying. Besides, as your bright young adult pointed out, “it’s not like we can’t just go buy another mailbox.”
A word on speeding: Don’t! (Unless, like, you really need to get to Whitney’s house before her parents get home.)
Distracted driving kills. They actually said this in the video. Just because you can text your divorce lawyer, floss, run a conference call in India, and drink $8 matcha beverages while driving doesn’t mean your teen should. Your child’s only distraction while driving should be his hair, which should be consistently viewable for optimum BeReals. Also, checking TikTok for the latest driving tips from drippy influencers is totally fire.
When your teen applies the gas and brakes simultaneously, praise him. This is his first success at multitasking, which he will have to learn at some point to survive being a working parent who drives in America. Also praise the cat, who just demonstrated cat-like reflexes.
Parking – It doesn’t mean what it did when you learned to drive. That’s all you need to know.
Driving at night in the rain, with faulty wipers, no streetlights, and tons of cars with high beams on coming at you really fast is a great time for your teen to get the hang of things. Especially if you’re on a conference call with India.
At some point the car will inevitably veer in the direction of the nearest Chipotle. Gently redirect, as you did when your child stole Timmy McMahon’s Darth Vader action figure from his cubby in 2011.
Do not allow your teen to charge younger siblings for rides. You keep that money.
It seems impossible but the car is operable without music. But this isn’t recommended, for anyone of any age, ever. How can you get where you’re going without fresh tunes?
But no headphones. Except maybe for the cat.