Dr. Molly Barrow

The Official Dr. Molly Barrow Blog offers educational self help advice about relationships, business, dating, marriage, parenting, teenagers and children, self-esteem, love and romance. Dr. Molly Barrow holds a Ph.D in psychology and is the author of Matchlines for Singles and the self-esteem adventure series, Malia and Teacup Awesome African Adventure and Malia and Teacup Out on a Limb. Dr. Molly is a relationship and psychology expert host on progressiveradionnetwork.com and television guest.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

TEENAGE DRIVING Dr. Molly Barrow Matchlines Relationship Self Help

Dear Dr. Molly,

My sixteen-year-old daughter will soon be getting her drivers license. Her seventeenth birthday is just twenty days away, and then, there is Christmas.

For several months, she has been visualizing herself, having and driving her own not-too-old, two-door black Honda Civic, going where she needs to go, to and from her part-time job, with her boot-legged music playing, occasionally accompanied by her prettiest girl pal, being free.

My main question, from a parent’s point of view, is, “How will I know when my teen girl is mature and responsible enough to have her own car?”

A secondary question is, “Are there any requisite behavior traits (hers) I might watch for?”

And finally, “Do you feel weak academic performance (A, B, D, F) and chronic tardiness are factors of any significance to consider?”

Considering that every single student in her junior class or above has their very own automobile except for mine, any insights, or resource suggestions you may have would be appreciated and may help us to stem the incessant nagging and the flood of tears and insults pouring through our home lately.

Thanks, and happy holidays.


Dear Santa,

Mature and responsible is more probable in a twenty-something person than a sixteen year old. Perhaps you should reduce your expectations to “No Injuries.” What causes many parents the most angst is that we remember what we did in cars as teenagers. However, the reality is that our society hands over the keys of adulthood to our children at age eighteen. That leaves you, the parent, with only slightly more than a year left to help her “get it” - that she must hone her survival skills more intensely than her freedom or partying skills. Several indicators are in her favor like the part-time job and the A and B grades. Both require maturity and responsibility to achieve and maintain. She is already a year older than most beginners who are on the road. On the other hand, D and F grades often reflect a careless attitude (possibly excluding algebra). She actually is not the only one who does not own a car, only approximately 12% of the world population has cars unlike the junior class. Chronic tardiness and driving faster may link. While you may be encouraging her to be on time, if she accelerates over the speed limit to achieve punctuality, the consequences could be deadly. Her life is far more important than any arbitrary deadlines, school or job regulations. Teenage priorities bear no resemblance to what adults consider important so instill parental consequences (losing car privileges) for speeding, reckless driving or accidents. A “city limits only” rule is helpful to keep from getting a call from the Miami police when you think she is at the movies. Another good rule is “if the stoplight turns yellow that means stop for her not go-fast.” Regardless of her tears, you are in control and you are responsible for her legally. Nagging and tantrum meltdowns are part of the emotionally revved teenager and demonstrate immaturity, but insults are abuse. Abusive behavior from a husband, wife or teenager usually continues to escalate until the abuser wins or the victim stands up. Children reflect many parental characteristics, good and bad. Ask yourself if you nag, have emotional fits or hurl insults before you judge her too harshly. If you can deal with your children in a respectful manner, they will eventually return the favor. O.K. Maybe that is a long shot. Chances are she will appreciate and show gratitude for the privilege of owning one of the 531 million gas-guzzlers on the planet. However, warn your friends to run their errands before school lets out. Remember that mutual trust and love are what helps a teenager stop rebelling, say no to temptations and somehow, before your eyes become mature and responsible.

Do you have a question, worry or opinion you would like Dr. Molly to write about in her column? Write to drmolly@askdrmolly.com


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