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Talking with Your Teen
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Drive Alive co-founder
How to talk to your teen about safe driving
Nobody said it would be easy!
Some parents may think that it is
naive to think that teens will listen to their parents. Teens will resist
anything that sounds like preaching or patronizing, right?
Wrong. In fact, dead wrong.
Scientific research shows that 60 percent of high school students say
their parents are the biggest influence on their driving. You control the
keys to the car. In most cases, you pay for the car or the insurance or the
gas, or all of it. You, as the parent, are in the driver's seat. It's time to
Is it easy? No, it's hard and painful at times. It can create friction and
tension. How does that compare with the trauma of a dead child?
Here are some things to keep in mind when the going gets rough:
You are not alone. Behind
thousands of doors in Indiana, the same issues occur.
Take encouragement from the fact that you are doing the
right thing as a parent. Just as you once hand-fed your
child and changed her diapers, you now serve as her
guardian angel of life on the road. Sometimes your teen
will listen cooperatively; other times, he will resent
your repetition, nagging and over-protective attitude.
Just remind yourself that the statistics show that no
matter his demeanor and whether or not he likes it, kids
DO listen, and it does save lives.
Work your messages into daily
conversation. Discuss crashes that appear on the evening
news. Put articles or notes you write yourself in the
teen's book bag. Discuss it with your spouse at the
dinner table, so the child is a "third-party" to the
conversation. This can be less patronizing. Make safe
driving a recurring theme of family conversations every
day, not just in a formal 'sit-down.'
When your teenís friends
visit, talk with THEM about their driving. Ask how they
like driving, whether they enjoy the freedom, whether
they drive to school or not and other casual questions.
If your teenís friends are not driving yet, ask what
they think of your teenís driving! This gives you
something to talk about with your teenís friends, and it
exposes TWO teens (the friend and your teen) to a
message that driving is a major responsibility.
When your teen doesn't want to
talk, offer some reading material instead ó starting
with the guide. Clip articles from the newspaper. Pull
things off the Internet. Be sure they read it. Provide
this as a
periodic alternative to dialogue.
Draft a quiz for your child
based on the information in this guide and have her read
the guide and take the quiz!
If your child resists your
talks, use this message: "If you are not mature enough
to talk about how to keep yourself, your passengers and
other drivers from getting killed, then you're not ready
for the keys to the car. Let me know when you're ready."
Easy? No. Necessary and effective? Yes. Remember, 5
minutes a week is all it takes to establish and
reinforce phased-in driving privileges. Need some
motivation? Clip these next few sentences and post them
on your fridge: Teens whose parents talk with them about
safe driving are less likely to die in a crash,
according to statistics. Letís say the same thing
another way: Failure to talk with your child puts him at
greater risk of dying in a crash. So talk!