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Q&A: How Can I Help My Teen Overcome His Fear of Driving?

Teen parenting expert Rosalind Wiseman on what to consider when your teenage child is afraid to get a driver's license.

By Rosalind Wiseman

Q. What can I do about my 17-year-old, who won't learn to drive? When I ask why, he says, "I don't want to die!" It may have something to do with the fact that my older son had a bad accident three years ago. But I can't be a chauffeur forever. Any advice?

A. I get that you have better things to do than be his driver. But to me the bigger issue is helping him become independent. In most areas of the country driving is an important skill and even a rite of passage.

Because his fear is so serious and seems based at least partly on his brother's trauma, I suggest you take him to a mental health professional to help him process his emotions and create strategies for addressing them. Be sure to ask the therapist how you can be supportive of the ideas your son decides to try. Whether he drives or not isn't as critical as acknowledging his feelings and reassuring him that there's nothing wrong with asking for help when you're afraid. If, in the end, he still doesn't want to get his license, that's okay. And it's also fine for him to ride a bike or take public transportation.

Originally published in the August 2010 issue of Family Circle magazine.

 
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