In honor of my son, Jonah, preparing to get his learner’s permit, I share this article I wrote as I was teaching my daughter, Abigail, how to drive last year. This article was originally published by The Wisdom Daily on January 24, 2017.
I’m teaching my 15-year-old daughter how to drive. It’s a nerve wracking process, one that is seriously testing my ability to remain calm under pressure. My kid is actually a pretty good driver. She still has much to learn, but I’m confident that she’ll catch on quickly. It’s the other folks on the road that scare me. I tried to explain this to her during one of our recent drives by sharing a lesson I was taught when I was learning how to drive: when you’re behind the wheel, you have to assume that every other person on the road with you is out to get you. This lesson had an impact on me, teaching me to be suspicious of my fellow drivers, expect the worst from them and be prepared for their recklessness. For my daughter, the lesson fell flat. While her eyes were intently focused on the road, I could detect that infamous teenage eye roll. “Dad,” she said, “that’s just depressing! It’s not how you teach me to deal with other people. It’s a sad and paranoid lesson.”
I don’t blame my daughter for not liking my lesson. She’s right – it’s sad and paranoid and I don’t teach her to assume the worst in people. While I want her to respect the power she has when she gets behind the wheel of a car, I certainly don’t want her to be afraid of driving. So, as I sat in the passenger seat next to my child, I tried to reframe my lesson in a way that reflects her optimistic outlook on the world.
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