Wouldn’t it be nice if your teen responded to your safety rules with “Thanks for caring!” But that’s usually not the case. It’s normal for your teen to resist restrictions, also known as rules. Testing limits to stretch boundaries is part of growing up. That’s why you must stress that the rules are in place for safety, not to control your teen’s life. That's why parents should expect resistance.
How can you do this? Calmly and clearly explain the rule and then back it up with fact. Be prepared. Your teen may respond by telling you not to worry; he has it all figured out. He can stay safe without following the rule. Be prepared. Here are some specific things you can say when your teen resists certain rules:
Seat belt use
You might say: Do you always make sure that all your passengers are buckled up before turning the key?
Expect: It’s not my job to make my friends buckle up—I’m not their mom.
You might respond: When you’re the driver, you are the mom! Remember, you’re responsible for everyone’s safety in your car. Most crashes happen close to home, so there are NO exceptions to wearing a seat belt.
You might say: Until you’re really experienced, I’ll continue teaching you new driving skills, and we’ll have rules in place to make sure you stay safe.
Expect: But I’m already experienced! I have a license.
You might respond: I’m proud of the work it took to earn that license but that’s only the first step. Teens crash a lot during their first year of driving alone, and I don’t want that to happen to you. It’s my job to continue to help you stay safe.
Talking on a cell phone
You might say: You have to pull over if you ever need to call someone.
Expect: Don’t worry; I put it on hands-free.
You might respond: Did you know that cell phones increase crash risk--hands-free or not! It’s the conversation that takes your mind off the road.
You might say: Never, ever text while driving. It’s deadly.
Expect: Yeah, if I texted like you. Watch this; I barely have to think about it.
You might respond: I’m impressed, but you still took your eyes off the road for three critical seconds. And don’t forget it’s not just about where your hands are, it’s about where your mind is.