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Dealing with Anxiety when Your Teenager Gets Their License

From the Parent Cue
Your teen is all excited. After months of training and meeting all the state requirements, they passed their driver’s license test. After the appropriate social media posts declaring their good news, and giving other drivers adequate warning (with that vital driver’s license info blurred out), you quickly realize what this accomplishment means as they pull the car out of the driveway on their first solo drive.

And then fear slowly creeps in.
That intersection that is hard to turn left at, the one where that car almost hit you.
An inexperienced driver—how will they navigate?
What about texting—will they be able to ignore their phone?
Will they remember the things you taught them?
What about all of the things you are suddenly remembering that you should have taught them?

It’s a helpless feeling. They are out there, in a car, alone. And there’s nothing you can do about it.

But you’ve been training for this whether you realize it or not. Remember when they were learning to drive and you were sitting in the passenger seat, coaching them? Those mailboxes seemed awfully close to the side mirror, didn’t they? And the invisible brake pedal you kept trying to push from the passenger seat? Yeah, there wasn’t much you could do other than yell, “Stop!”

You are not in control.
And you haven’t been for a while.
It’s part of being a parent of a teenager.
Every year means letting go of more and more of it.

So does that mean you just have to get over it? Not exactly. In fact, there are a few things you can do to help calm your fears and help divert your attention from the worst-case-scenario game playing out in your head.

Trust what you’ve taught them. More than likely, you’ve spent the last year teaching and preparing them for this day. You’ve gone on practice drives. You may have even signed them up for driving school or they enrolled in Driver’s Ed at their school. There have been multiple investments made in them to prepare them for this moment. They are not going to know everything, but you’ve probably given them the tools to figure out the unknowns.
You can still monitor them. I know this can easily slip into helicoptering mode, but there is an advantage to using technology to follow them. It allows you to make sure they arrive safely at their destination—that way they don’t have to call or text you every time. It can also let you know when they are on the move and when you may want to hold off calling or texting them.
Get help. Do you have a legitimate reason to be concerned? Do they need extra help in becoming a new driver? If you can afford it, send them to driving school. If you can afford it, maybe ask a friend whom they respect if they can teach them a thing or two.
Pray. You’ve done it all along, but maybe now’s the time to pray a little more.
With any big transition and any big freedom for our kids, the “what ifs” can come so easily. But the reality is that our control is always limited, but we do what we can, when we can. And we trust.

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