One of the most stressful things I’ve encountered in parenting is teaching my children to drive.Â From the first outings of just sitting in the car, pointing out and explaining what everything was on the dashboard, to driving around the block, or through the vacant parking lot, it was nerve-wracking and, well, just plain scary.
I learned a lot about myself in the process. I had not considered myself a control freak prior to this point in my parenting career, but not having the power to start, stop, and maintain life in a 2 ton machine was exceedingly hard for me. I found myself stomping my foot on the passenger side floorboard when I expected my kid should be braking, but wasn’t. It took everything I could muster not to scream ‘STOP!” and scare my child half to death. I found myself silently, mentally coaching myself:Â
They are new to this — they aren’t supposed to understand — you are the adult — be calm — don’t be too harsh — just chill — okay, we’re almost home — they did great — wasn’t that great?Â Â It’s all good. We’re alive. We’ve arrived at the destination.
Sometimes the advice I heard myself saying to them seemed to apply to me as well. And not just in the car, either. This is one of the amazing parts of parenting that no one ever told me – how much I’d learn and grow just from trying to love and train them as best I can.Â
“Just stay in your lane.”Â Â Understandably, busier highways were scary at first to the new driver. I’d encourage them to focus on their part, just stay in between the lines and keep their eyes open.
My lesson: Just manage what you can control.
“Your car will drive wherever your eyes are looking.” Keep watch of where you are headed, don’t get distracted by other motorists, or things on the side of the road. Stay alert.
My lesson: What you are looking at is where you will end up.
“Watch your speed.”Â Â In our town, sometimes the speed limits seem to change without much warning along the same long stretch of road. Although it might seem arbitrary, there are reasons for laws we don’t know about — just learn them and obey them.
My lesson: Slow down and submit to the process.
“When in doubt, or you feel overwhelmed, pull over and stop at the first opportunity.” New skills take time to master and new situations can feel overpowering. It is wise to pause, take a breath, and calm yourself, rather than trying to push through when you feel out of control.Â
My lesson: God’s much better at being God than I am.
“If you get pulled over or honked at, just take it in stride.” Warnings or unexpected consequences are opportunities to learn. If you made a mistake, admit it, and move on. If you weren’t in the wrong, practice forgiveness and move on.
My lesson: Be teachable. Receive correction. Accept responsibility and move forward.
Have you learned lessons in parenting, too? Have you heard yourself saying things that turned out to be instructive in your own life?Â I’d love to hear about it – leave a comment!