Teaching Driving By Being Teachable

by Brenda on

Our second son recently turned 16, and he has his learner’s permit. He doesn’t yet have enough hours to get a license and drive on his own, so we are letting him drive often. Tonight, I drove–because we were in a time crunch and traffic was bad. As I drove down the hill, not far from our home, my 11 year old asked me to turn up the Christmas music. In the process of turning up the music, I swerved a little to the right, barely onto the white line that makes up part of the bike lane. Thankfully, nobody was there–it’s a steep hill, so not many people use  that space. The 16 year old, who freshly studied the driver’s manual and who analyzes every driving move, quickly said “Uh, Mom, you’re over the line.” I can think of some ways I might have responded in that moment…


Had I been tired, worn out, or down on myself for other reasons, I might have been defensive. I could have replied “I’ve got it. Don’t worry. Mind your own business son. I’ve been driving for a bazillion years.” What would my 16 year old, eager to learn to drive correctly, feel and think? He might feel: “My observations don’t matter,” or worse, “My safety doesn’t matter to Mom.” Or maybe “Mom doesn’t think I’m smart enough. Mom is better than me.” I don’t want my son to feel any of those things!! I want him to know without any doubt that I care about what he has to say, and that I, personally think he is brilliant. I also want him to know that I care about his safety so that he also cares about his own safety when he takes the wheel on his own.


Thankfully, it was a good moment for me and I listened to the Holy Spirit’s nudging, and I was able to respond in a way I hope I will replicate next time. I said, “You’re right! Oh, that’s not good. Just doing a tiny little thing like turning up the radio can distract me from my driving and make me swerve into the bike lane. Good thing no people were there!” You know what? I bet this learning experience triggered his brain far more than if he had made the same mistake and I corrected him. This teachable moment wasn’t in the midst of his extreme stress (trying to do everything just right while behind the wheel of a car). It was a mistake I made, while he sat, relaxed, in the passenger’s seat. In times of stress, our brains aren’t exactly the most teachable. While we’re relaxed, much is absorbed (Hello TV. Oh, that’s another subject!).


The conversation didn’t end there. He apologized for correcting me, as if he had done something wrong. I explained to him that I was glad he did, and I welcomed his observations and corrections. I went on, that because he had just studied the driver’s manual and that he knew the rules so freshly, I cared to learn from him. Afterall, it’s been a while since I was 16! And guess what he did? He brought up something else. “Well, I’ve also noticed that sometimes when you drive you do ________.” And guess what? It was another opportunity to be humble, to prove I was teachable, and to allow him to learn and see what being teachable looks like.


I’m not a better person than my kids just because I’ve got 24+ years on all of them. Nope. My 17 year old studies the Bible more than me. My 16 year old knows music better than me (and apparently driving, too!). My 15 year old understands reptiles better than me. My 11 year old is a crazy-good dancer that I will never be. My 8 year old makes people smile and adore her with some kind of magic that I do not possess. You know that I chose 1 thing per kid, but they’ve got many, right? They have SO much to teach me! I’m the Mom, and I’ve got experience on my side, and I’m the only one in the mix (besides my husband!) who ever went on a date, bought a car, bought a house, graduated high school, went to college, got a perm (!), sewed MC Hammer pants and went to the concert (!!), and I’ve lived through more changes in music than they’ve ever experienced, BUT that does not make me unteachable. I have much to learn, and God put these kids in my life to teach me things and this might just be equally as important as me teaching them things.


I am so thankful that the Holy Spirit nudged me to respond well to my son today. I pray that I will continue to be that kind of Mom–a teachable, listening Mom who cares about what they have to say.

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