When parenting plans backfire | Living with Gleigh

Since my daughters hit their teen years, I have been very clear that they would be partly responsible for the financial end of their driving careers: driver’s education, gas, insurance, first car. But when my oldest hit the magical age of 15 ½, she showed no interest in driving. Sixteen came and went.

I thought it rather strange she didn’t want to drive. We had talked about “when the kids could drive” for years; she talked of “when I can drive” herself. But I felt if she wasn’t ready to drive, I shouldn’t force her. When she approached 17, I asked her why she didn’t want to drive. She told me there was no reason to drive if her father and I were driving her everywhere she wanted to go.

The insight stopped me in my tracks. Apparently, we made the whole thing so easy, she couldn’t project to a future when her schedule would be such that my husband and I wouldn’t be willing to drive her.

It reminded me of when she was an infant and wouldn't roll over onto her stomach until she was well past 6 months old. I’d put her on her stomach and she’d roll over on her back, but she wouldn’t go the other way. I’d even entice her with foods I knew she liked or toys she was especially fond of, she still wouldn’t roll over. Everything she needed was right there or would come to her as she lay on her back, why would she want to roll over? I think she was almost 10 months old before she started rolling from her back to her stomach.

I suddenly understood that unless I made her get her license, she would never be motivated enough until I dropped her off at the bus stop on her way to college. I am not alone in this dilemma. It seems many of my mom-friends have high school children who are unwilling to drive, even with driver’s ed under their belt and a car in the driveway waiting for them. One mom posted on my website that her son wasn’t interested until he took the bus to college a whole quarter. I did not want to wait until then.

When she turned 17 and a situation arose where it would have been more convenient for me had she been driving, I took a stand. I signed her up and paid for driver’s ed. I drove her to every lesson and picked her up. I pushed her father and her out the door to practice driving. She has had moments of epiphany of the freedom she could have if she was driving and is finally interested in taking her driving test; we started last August.

Needless to say, my plan of making my kids financially responsible for part of their driving careers has backfired. We just purchased a car for her because her dad and I are tired of picking her sister up at the bus stop, then turning around to pick her up from her after-school activities every day. We got her a 10-year old car, with a hundred-thousand plus miles on it, that’s easy on the gas mileage and something dad can maintain. We know for awhile we’ll be paying for gas and maintenance until she graduates this year and gets a job.

As my husband and I drove around to get her car emission tested and the title transferred, I was truly chagrined that my plan had gone awry. But even though it is a car for her, she only got it to make my husband and my lives easier. So really the car is for us; at least that is the attitude which allows me sleep at night.

Still, I hate it when my parenting plans backfire; my youngest daughter turned 15 last fall and has already completed driver’s ed. Of course, I paid for it as her sister already went down that path – or should I say road?

Gretchen Leigh is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Covington. She is committed to writing about the humor amidst the chaos of a family. You can also read more of her writing and her daily blog on her website Her column is available every week at under the Lifestyles section.

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