Hoping to hear from some moms/parents who are going through this with their child. There is so little traffic on the Pt/T. forum I need as much support and advice for parenting him as I needed with DS2...
TIA for your experience with driving.
I'm not there right this minute, but it hasn't been long! My twin sons are almost 17. One got his license last summer; the other is in no hurry, and I'm not pushing him.
BE PATIENT!! Learning to drive requires a LOT of multi-tasking, and while it can be nerve-wracking for us to sit in the car while they try to figure it out, the more calm and cool you can remain, the better you'll be able to teach him. If you start to panic, have him pull over into a parking lot or the side of the road so you can cool down. Ask him if he understands why you got flustered, and if he doesn't, explain it gently.
We felt the best thing we could do for our kids was to give them every possible opportunity to drive. The more practice your DS gets with you in the front seat, the more skilled he will be when he's out on his own. If the two of you will be in the car at the same time, make him drive.
If he is just starting and has no experience at all, take him to a big, empty parking lot (we have an event center nearby that was perfect). Let him get the feel of the controls, as slowly as he wants. Let him practice staying in a straight line. Have him pull into a parking space and back out again. Give him directions for left turn, right turn, and let him get the feel of how much he needs to slow down for a turn, or how much or little he needs to turn the wheel.
With him in the driver's seat, open all the windows, get out, and walk slowly around the car to give him a feel for where the blind spots are.
At first, keep sessions short, but frequent. On the streets, start out taking quiet streets to get from here to there; gradually let him drive on busier roads during quiet times of the day, so he can get the hang of stoplights and lane changes.
If you do drive with him as a passenger, quiz him a bit. Ask him to watch for anything you are doing wrong! Have him watch traffic, and talk about rules of the road (following distance, right-of-way, how a 4-way stop works).
Make him navigate! This was the biggest thing for my kids - they've lived in the same town their whole lives, and can't find their way around at all! Make your son give you directions, and follow them - even if they are wrong - that way he has to figure out how to get back to where he belongs.
My ds got his permit the day he turned 15. He'll be 17 soon, so he's been driving for almost 2 yrs. He was an excellent driver from day one, maybe because he had lots of experience driving go-karts. But he's also very inattentive and impulsive and 7 months ago we found out he has narcolepsy. I think he's a good enough driver to get his regular license, but a few months back he had a sleep attack behind the wheel, so his doctor and I agree that even if he should get his license, he won't be taking too many trips without a parent in the car.
Also, he's a real "woe is me" kind of person. He doesn't get really excited about anything. So he sort of feels like now he knows how to drive and so there isn't any point in continuing to do something he's already "mastered". I can't explain enough that mastery doesn't come in 2 years, but whatever.
One big I have done since day one is that I've been very careful never, ever to yell at him while he is driving. True, he was a really good driver naturally, but of course he's had a few moments that almost stopped my heart. But he will tell you that not one single time did I ever shriek or yell at him. I always kept calm and cool and just used a very soft voice to ask him to "please pull over and vacate the driver's seat immediately". LOL
What issues are you having, OP?
Slowly. It's going slowly.
We are a one-car family, so there are fewer opportunities for him to drive. He doesn't seem all that eager. He's also pretty busy and just not at home much. He's had his learner's permit for about a year and he's finished a driver's ed course. I actually think he's ready to take the exam for the next level, but I think he wants more practice. Which I'm happy to give him.
He has a little difficulty with parking still, but we have a minivan and I sometimes have trouble parking it. This is definitely an area where he needs more practice.
I didn't get my license until I was in my mid-20's. As a teen, I took advantage of an excellent public transit system. Then I went to university when I was 17 and didn't really have a car for practicing until I moved in with my boyfriend. I think it's much easier to get a license when you are younger, so I've been encouraging him to get it.
Thanks to everyone who gave me great ideas!
blessedwithboys: Thanks for asking...the main issues we are having are probably fairly typical. He gets on my nerves a lot (I know this isn't nice or GD, but it is a fact that I deal with constantly) and much more so when he drives. When we started, any correction or caution I gave him was met with "I know" (even when it was super clear he did not know). He doesn't say that anymore...he usually says "Okay" to whatever I tell him. He wants to drive more than I am comfortable with and during times (ie: rush hour) when I say no. This puts him in a bad mood and then he sulks, which p.o.'s me and makes me not too motivated to let him drive at other times. Plus, I AM SCARED with his being in the driver's seat! I have pulled the emergency brake on him more than once, and it makes him SO mad. I guess it maybe embarrasses him, too.
I think our issues are 1/2 driving-related and 1/2 relationship-related. I do not like letting him drive when the baby is in the car, which is most of the time, so I have had to let that go somewhat.
With DS, I've really worked on biting my tongue and giving corrections or directions only when necessary (and of course, immediately if it's a safety issue). A lot of the time, he's already realized what he did wrong or could do better because it's something obvious, eg. his turn is too wide or he didn't slow down early enough or he waited too long. A lot things he just needs practice and to learn the "feel" of the skill. When something a little rocky happens, I often just ask him to tell me what happened and what he thinks he could work on rather than leaping in to tell him what he did wrong. He's pretty good at identifying his own mistakes and doesn't really need me to do it and it gets him talking beyond that dismissive "Okay" response to pointing out his errors.
When we finish and are safely parked, that's also a good time to review and make some suggestions. When he was first learning, at the end of every session I asked him to identify a couple of things he did well and a couple of things he needed to do better. Then I would too (often it was the same thing). We could have an actual discussion about mistakes, without all the adrenalin that flows when you're recovering from a mistake while still in traffic. We don't do that so much anymore, but he's also often driving without incident.
I also make sure to talk when I'm driving. I'll point out my own errors and miscues and explain how I handled a situation like getting cut off. It seems to help a lot.
My son will be 16 later this year and he has done very well with driving with a permit. He will be ready for his drivers license. He has had his permit since last November. I dread him driving "alone" and I think he will be nervous about it too. I will likely stress and worry :-( but he needs to do it next year to help out with me since I'm a single mom and need to get my younger 2 children where they need to go. Right now I'm driving all over the county we live in to get to schools and daycare twice per day because my kids schools don't have regular buses. Lots of gas and precious time being used.
My oldest just turned 15 and got her permit two days ago. She has been driving morning, noon and night since then. She is pretty good for having no experience. I think my expectations are reasonable (she isn't going to be a great driver right out of the gate), and luckily she is careful and takes suggestions well. Our cars don't have the emergency brake in the middle where you could reach it, but in your situation I'd only do that when in emminent threat of an actual wreck. If he is truly a poor driver (not just inexperienced) then I wouldn't take the baby on his drives. But regular learning curves wouldn't bother me, especially in 25 mph zones.
It seems really common that quite a fair number of kids don't get their permits/licenses when they are old enough to. I don't understand that at all. Luckily my teen couldn't wait to get hers, but I would have made her regardless. It is a life skill and I'm not ok with my kids skipping it or putting it off for any reason. I felt the same about learning to swim.
My DD got her learner's permit at 16 years and one month, which was about five minutes after she finished driver's ed. LOL She drove me EVERYWHERE for the required six months, did very well, and passed her road test on the first day she was eligible this summer. It wasn't easy, but I decided early on that it was really really important to LET GO and let her do the driving. The last thing you want to do is get your newbie driver upset or PO'd when he's behind the wheel. ~sigh~ I know this from experience.
I don't know how much time your DS has had behind the wheel, but IMHO your pulling the emergency brake is a big no no. He has learn to keep all the balls in the air himself. Also, he needs to feel like you have faith in him if he's going to have faith in himself. Do you think you're nervous because he hasn't had enough road time for you both to be confident in his abilities? Maybe he needs to practice somewhere you feel safer. I took DD to a nearby industrial park quite a few times before we ventured onto the road; there was minimal traffic, almost no people on the streets, no children or bikes or parked cars. Much easier for both of us to relax and deal with the important stuff.
It seems like having the baby in the car is a real stress for you, too (understandably!). Maybe you can leave the baby with your DH or a friend so you'll only need to focus on DS.
Believe me, it does get less stressful, but other parents tell me the worry never really goes away. Now that DD has her license she's been gradually earning a little "road time" without me. She runs errands, picks up her girlfriend, goes out for coffee, visits friends in town. None of it has been easy, but now I'm at least learning to breathe while she's on the road without me...
Good luck and hang in there!
I have a 17 and a half yo dd who has had her permit for over a year and is not all that interested in driving. The only reason she finally took the wheel in May is that her brother turned 15 in June (when you can get your permit in our state). She makes me horribly nervous because she's nervous. DS loves it (I agree with the go cart experience and will be encouraging 12 yo ds to do it) and could probably take his test tomorrow if he were 16.
My daughter got her permit when she was 15 years & 9 months and just got her driver's license on Thursday at age 17 years & 1 month. Her twin brother has been much more reluctant to drive. He got his permit when he was 16 years & 4 months and has an appointment to get his license next month (17 years & 2 months). While DD is very confident and a good driver, DS is anxious and iffy with his skills. I'm worried about DD being on the road, of course (she drives about 40 miles every day round-trip to school), but I'll be more worried when DS is driving. Even though we'll try to limit the risks, DS will need to drive to his senior year internship; however, he's figured out a non-Beltway route (we're in the D.C. area).
As far as preparation, Maryland has an excellent graduated licensing system with very clearcut guidelines. Here's a link to an excellent Maryland skills log:
On page 26, there's an outline for how to plan the supervised driving experience (60 hours prior to getting a provisional license).