Here’s some thoughts from last years learning for such a time as this…
My oldest daughter goes for her Provisional License (P Plates) in 3 weeks. Last weekend I took her out for driving practice. Teaching our teens to drive is usually the domain of my impossibly patient husband. He has been away on business of late and our ‘L Plater’ needs to clock up 120 hours of driving time before she is eligible to take her P’s test. In my quest to be a good Mother, I bundled her into the car, stuck on the L Plates and off we went.
Driving with a Learner can seem like a no-win for parents :'(
You DO want your Learner driver to be confident so you DON’T want to micro-manage their driving. You DON’T want your Learner Driver to kill everyone in the car due to over confidence, so you DO want to be extra cautious…
but… you simply cannot micro-manage your teen if you want to maintain a healthy relationship during this process.
I’m sure the hair on my head had turned grey within 5 minutes of passengering (not even a word). My Learner Driver was frustrated and feeling like a failure. We needed a new strategy. During this tension, I lost my temper (yep!) and blurted out ‘YOU NEED TO LEARN TO ‘MANAGE UP!”
My teenager stared at me with a mix of exasperation and frustration, waiting for the explanation she didn’t want to hear. So I explained,
‘I don’t like telling you what to do and you don’t like being told… but… I can’t risk the lives of everyone in the car by not knowing if you remember what to do exactly when it needs to be done. We have no margin for error at 80kms p/h…so… this is what needs to happen…
I want you to think about what I need to know while you are driving. Think about what you can see, where you need to turn and the location of the other cars of the road. Think about your indicators and breaks and the traffic lights and stop signs. Take everything in and then…before we are right on top of a situation…tell me what you are going to do. Think about what I need to know and answer the questions before I need to ask them. That way, you won’t have to put up with me telling you what to do.’
Teaching my teen the concept of ‘managing up’ has changed our lives and equipped her with an invaluable skill. I am watching her apply this concept across different areas of her life and she is reaping the benefits of better thinking and clearer, more timely communication with those around her.
We must teach people in whose development we are invested, to think about what we need to know and how to answer questions before we ask them. These are thinking skills and teachable life skills.
This teaching and learning is a process. A process of teaching the people we lead to think about what is needed and our people learning to communicate clearly so that timely decision making can be made, without unnecessary stress.
At times I will say to my teenagers ‘before you finish asking for XYZ…how about you take a few minutes and think about what I need to know and eliminate any reasons for me to say ‘NO’ because you equip me with the information I need to make a decision. Remember I’m on your team and I genuinely want to say yes to what you ask of me (within reason) but you need to think about what I value and what I need to know’.
This has been a learning and teaching process but we are seeing the rewards. They are learning the bigger lessons of considering the values and needs of others and the art of communicating with people who carry decision- making authority.
Blog Update: I need to report that she passed her Driving Test with flying colours and we both survived the process with a strengthened relationship!