For many teens, receiving their driver’s license is a rite of passage. For many parents, it is a time of anxiety. Parents must help their teens learn how to be responsible by giving them the freedom to practice making their own decisions, while still setting limits and guidelines for their decisions. In other words, parents and teens need to negotiate an agreement that satisfies the most important objectives for both parties – freedom for your teen, and safety for you.
Win-win negotiation only occurs when both sides understand what the other party wants and why they want it. Only when we understand the needs and wants of everyone involved can we find a suitable solution.
Start by asking your teen what they believe what they want once they receive their driver’s license. What is it that they most want? Then, share what you want from your teen once they are legally able to drive. As the adult, you may certainly have non-negotiables, and it is important to be transparent about those non-negotiables, and why you aren’t willing to compromise about those issues. Win-win negotiation may sound like:
Teen: “I want my own car.”
Parent: “That’s a non-negotiable because our family cannot afford to buy you a new car.”
Win-win: “If you get a job, we will work with you to make sure you have transportation to and from that job.”
Teen: “I want to be able to drive to work, drive my friends to and from school, drive to away games to watch my classmates compete (often at night), and have the car on the weekend.”
Parent: “I want to make sure you are in situations where you can drive safely. I also want to make sure that the car is available for other family members when needed. I also need you to drive your younger sibling to school each day. My non-negotiables are you will never drive after curfew, you have to get your sibling to school on time each day.”
Win-Win Agreement: You can drive to work and drive your friends to and from school so long as you also take your sibling to school. You may not have more than 1-2 friends in the car at any one time. We will work together to create a schedule for the car each weekend, but you must ask for the car at least three days in advance so we can create a schedule that works for everyone.
As a parent, the final decision rests with you; however, conversations like this help your child learn how to negotiate, gives them opportunities to expand their responsibilities, and is an application of fairness, which is one of the Six Pillars of Character.