I got the DREADED parent-of-a-new-driver call. It could have been worse, thank God, but it still made my heart skip a beat. It was from the police… And I realized I had a problem to solve. What is the best punishment for a rogue new driver?
My 15-year-old had just started driving on a restricted license, meaning she was allowed to drive to school or work and back. That was it. We live about 45 minutes from my work and Ella’s school. There was no way she was driving that far.
So, one day a week, I allowed Ella to drop me off at work and drive from there to school. It’s about 3 miles. Yes, only 3 miles.
Such Little Distance, So Much Trouble
Ella dropped me off that morning as usual. I have a bad habit when I get to work. I always tell Ella to call me when she gets there. But I don’t want patients disturbed by my phone going off all day so I silence it at work. She hates that as I usually don’t answer when she calls. I try. I missed 3 calls from Ella that morning and 2 from an unknown number.
As soon as I came out, my heart sank. I frantically called Ella and my heart sank more. “The police officer wants to talk to you,” she said. Fantastic. “Put him on,” I told her a little too emphatically. For some reason, the rule-follower in me felt that I was getting in trouble.
“Is this Ella’s Mom?” he asked. “I have been trying to call you.” Oops. “I stopped Ella after she ran a red light in a school crossing. She went right through it and there were 3 kids about to cross. I think she was distracted by her friend. She said she is on the way to her Grandma’s to pick up something from school.”
By this point, my blood was boiling. She had LEFT school, WITH a friend, RAN a red light, IN a school zone, and could have really hurt a CHILD. Only an adult can really fathom the amount of disaster God had helped her avoid that day.
“I’m not going to give her a ticket but I wanted to make sure you knew and would follow up with repercussions.”
The Offender looking SO sweet and innocent
No worries, I had him covered. I was SO ANGRY on multiple fronts that I just told Ella to turn her car around, go back to school, and we would talk after school.
That gave me the benefit of ALL day to seethe. And give her a day’s worth of fear.
How to Punish this Rogue Driver?
And here’s the best part. My next patient helped me with the solution. Did I mention how much I LOVE my patients?
It just so happened that my next patient, a diabetic who I see every 3 months, could tell how worked up I was. He had raised his own kids and had TONS of life experience. “Give her the natural consequence, make her walk to school. She will hate it,” he said.
Perfect. I LOVE “Parenting with Love and Logic” but sometimes all logic goes out the window when you are seriously ticked at your child. And I was ticked. Thank you, Leo. You rock.
So, that’s what we did. If she couldn’t follow the rules of driving, she would walk. Ella walked to school for 2 weeks. She HATED it. As did my parents who actually had to be there when she left each morning as I was already at work. But she did it. She put up her little hoodie to cover her face and walked the mile from my parents home to school and back. And she learned a BIG lesson. As did I.
Simple Solution: Natural repercussions are imperative with teens but sometimes you might have to ask others less involved or give yourself some time to figure it out. That’s ok to do – it will freak your teen out even more. And teens really HATE walking to school. When all else fails, give it a try.
For more information on Teen Driving, check out:
National Safety Council: https://www.nsc.org/driveithome/new-driver-deal
For more Blog Posts on Teens: