It's Friday night, and he is begging for the car. You just had it cleaned, and there is no way he will have it back in time for your trip to the grocery store later tonight. You've been through this one thousand times, and it always ends the same. Give him the keys, but be prepared to set some rules. Driving a car is a special privilege. He may claim he is the safest driver, but you know that other people aren't. Here are some tips that will help curb your teenager's car craving and teach him (or her) some boundaries and responsibility.
Set time limits
. If your teen is going to use the car, how long is he allowed to use it? If you let him roll in at any time he chooses, there will be problems. You want to have the assurance of knowing that the car will be safely parked and locked in the driveway at a certain time. Talk with your spouse about certain specifics on timing.
Who will be with him?
If you allow friends and/or family to ride along with your teen, make sure other parents know, as well. If your teen is a new driver, most laws don't allow transporting other people until a certain time. If the car is packed full of noisy kids who just want to cause trouble, you should know about it. Some families start their drivers out with a 5-person plan regarding with whom the teenager can or cannot drive.
Establish a "no-complaining" rule
. If you ask your teenager to go out and pick up something from the grocery store or drop off his little sister, he may whine or challenge the request. If your child wants to keep his driving privileges, make sure he knows that it really is a privilege and not a right.
Keep it clean
The biggest dispute I had over the car was keeping it clean. I insisted my younger sister, who was beginning to drive and was the passenger who created most of the mess, should help clean it. If your teen has a car, he or she should be cleaning it
You break it, you buy it
. It may sound harsh, but many parents hold a strict standard to driving, especially when they have reckless teenagers. Insurance is costly, and your child should understand the true expense of a scrape or dent. If you trust your teen to drive off into the sunset, good for you. However, if there is even a little worry about safety, make sure your teen knows the consequences.
If your child bought his or her own car and is taking an individualist approach to the whole riding-on-the-road experience, let it happen. It may seem frightening, but this sense of responsibility with driving is the first thing for which your teenager will feel powerful. Just make sure that power is controlled, and your son or daughter stays safe on the road. Anything could happen.