Teenage Driving

Teenage driving is stressful for everyone.

“I can’t do it again,” I said to my husband. We were leaving the mountains of NC, and driving back home. It was a short drive, approximately under two hours, and since we wanted our daughter to practice the drive, she and I had driven together on the way up.

This was one of the rare times I’d been in the car with her since she received her license in October. The drive to the mountains was a good reminder to me of how much better it is for our relationship for me to stay out of her car. It’s also better for my mental health.

I’d like to say we chatted and enjoyed the two hours we had in the car together, but sadly, I’d be lying. I yelled at her. Not once. Not twice. Not even three times. Too many to remember. And she yelled back. There were also four letter words used. Not once. Not twice. Not even three times. Too many to remember.

“Slow down,” I yelled, my knuckles white from grabbing the handle on my door.
“I am, Mom,” she yelled back, “I’m not even speeding,” she kept saying.

We fought about the speed limit. We fought about her driving. We fought about our proximity to the cars in front of us.

Driving with teenagers is stressful for everyone.

Driving with teenagers is stressful for everyone.

When we finally arrived at the mountains, I went inside the house and said to Jon, “I can’t do this anymore. It stresses me out and isn’t good for our relationship.”

He didn’t say much. I’m sure he was glad it was me who drove in the car with our daughter instead of him.

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That was Friday. Yesterday, it was Sunday, and time to drive home.

When I announced that Jon would be riding home with Zoe, and I would be driving his car, he didn’t agree. Jon didn’t want me driving his car.

My Father who was visiting, not saying much, and witnessing this super entertaining fiasco said, “I have a thought, if you don’t mind me giving my opinion.”

“She should ride with you?” I asked him.
“No,” he said, “It seems she doesn’t feel like you’re respecting her, and you don’t feel like she’s respecting you. Before you get into the car, explain to her why you want her to drive slower, why it’s important, and agree to speak nicely to each other.”

I always thought my Dad was the smartest man in the world, but now I think he’s even smarter.
Zoe and I got into the car, had a little chat, and had a lovely drive home.
There weren’t any four letter words used. I didn’t raise my voice. My blood pressure didn’t get elevated.

We respected each other.

It was a good reminder to me, from my Dad, about the importance of open communication and mutual respect. Remember this, the next time you have an issue with your teenager. Don’t yell. Talk it through. You get more of what you want when you stay calm and don’t overreact.

And remember, it’s OK to use the occasional four letter word. Not once. Not twice. Even more than three times.

Find meaning each day,

Dara

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