There is No Magic in the age of 16

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I was recently on the phone with a mother for over 45 minutes trying to help her understand why it wasn’t a good idea to “set her daughter up” for a possible disappointment when she turned 16.  The conversation took a turn when she was insistent upon her daughter getting her permit “on the day” she was eligible so that she could get her license “on the day” that she was eligible.  In the state of Arizona that would be 6 months after her permit was issued.   My recommendation to her was:  “don’t do that to your daughter.”

Until we start working with her, we have no idea if she will be able to develop the necessary skills to be a safe and responsible driver in six months or if it will take longer.  She couldn’t understand, why that would be an issue.  She said, “my daughter is a good student and she is smart.”  Smart students do not equate to good drivers and in fact it has been our experience that the really really smart ones often are NOT good drivers because they over-analyze a situation and they are not particularly good at quick decision making.  Her other concern was that she was going to be spending “good money” with us and  why wouldn’t I guarantee her daughter will pass the test and get her license when she was eligible.  The fact of the matter is I don’t guarantee anyone will pass any tests here.  Our goal certainly is not to fail students, however, our goal is to insure, to the best of our ability, that they are “ready” to be out on the road.  EVERY student is different and some adapt and develop skills quickly, while others may take months, possibly  a year,  if not longer to develop the necessary skills.

Who guarantees that a student will pass a test?  If they take the ACT’s or SAT’s or any test for that matter, what happens when they fail?  They have to study more and take another test.  Why is it we think driving is so different?  A student either develops a skill or they don’t.  If they don’t pass the test then that means they need more practice.  There is no MAGIC in the age of 16.  Some 16 year old’s are ready to drive and others are not.  There are individuals in their 20’s who may not be ready to drive – why are we rushing this?  Is it because it is convenient for us as their parents?  I believe therein lies some of the problem.  When our kids get their license they can get themselves to school, or football or work.  They can even get their siblings to places they need to be, therefore, relieving us of our taxi responsibility.  This isn’t a good enough reason, folks.  This is the MOST DANGEROUS time in our childrens lives.

DO NOT RUSH this.  Get them something else for their 16th birthday, because a driver’s license just may not be in the cards.

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