One of the scariest feelings in the world is watching a child drive away, alone, for the first time in your car. Up until that point, you have been helping out with lessons on how to drive, lectures on drunk driving and a general feeling of needing a drink after co-piloting your kid’s journey to becoming a licensed driver. Maybe you even considered a voluntary ignition interlock installation, just to be safe. Now, they’re out there, practicing for their own adult life in a car that asks for nothing more than a responsible driver – just like everyone else wants to see on the road.
Waiting until that moment to have the drunk driving talk probably won’t do a lot for your peace of mind or your kid’s understanding of the importance of sober driving. They know when we are serious by the number of times we mention something, or go into full lecture mode over the months or years. So, maybe you should start earlier and consider having the talk before they even start out on that road to licensed freedom:
- Elementary age kids can understand that when they begin to drive in a few years, they are never to drink alcohol.
- Middle school kids can be given more factual information about drinking and driving, and will most certainly look to you as an example of responsible driving.
- High school kids are at the age where boundaries are set with the family car and “contracts” are written for drunk driving, texting and distracted driving.
Some experts say that you cannot have safety discussions with your children too early. Even if you are the parent of a toddler, you can model the behavior you expect from your future driving teen by always buckling your seat belt, leaving your phone in a safe place and never driving if you’ve had any alcohol. Besides, the drunk driving talk is probably one of the least painful discussions you’ll have with your kid as they get older and the best way to avoid an ignition interlock on the family car.