Teaching My 16-Year-Old How to Drive in CT


When my daughter turned 16 and got her learner’s permit, I knew it would be life-changing for all of us, but in reality, I had no idea what to expect.

Teaching my 16 year old how to drive in CT
Image Credit Forty Seven Moments Photography

She’s independent and holds a busy schedule, so we’re on the go a lot, and she’s always eager to drive. Cue the panic attack! Needless to say, I was not ready. In the back of my mind, I figured teaching our kids to drive would primarily be my husband’s responsibility. However, my work schedule is more flexible than his, and I am more available to take her out for lessons. Lovely!

Where to begin teaching my 16-year-old how to drive in CT?

Connecticut drivers must be 16 years of age and take a written test to obtain a learner’s permit. If you don’t pass, you can retake it a week later.

We started by letting our daughter drive in large, empty parking lots. Then gradually took her on back roads to and from local places. Even though she was doing great, I was not prepared for the level of anxiety I would experience.

The first few rides were terrifying. I found myself holding onto the armrest with my stomach in my throat, trying my hardest not to let my nerves cause her to feel anxious. Suddenly, the New England roads I had driven all my life seemed more narrow, windy, and dangerous than ever. I felt like I was on a roller coaster and wanted to get off but couldn’t. Not because she’s a reckless driver (she is actually decently cautious), it was the fear of me not being in control.

How to get past the fear?

Let me repeat that. The fear of not being in control. How often do we, as parents, want to control our child’s situations to protect them and keep them safe? The biggest hurdle and learning lesson in teaching my 16-year-old how to drive in CT wasn’t directly for her. It was something I had to learn. It was about letting go.

When to let go of the wheel?

There are many situations I can’t control in life. Yet, I find myself gripping on for dear life, trying to. In this circumstance, the only way to move forward in teaching my daughter was to lift my hands off the wheel, both metaphorically and physically.

My deepest desire for my children is for them to learn and grow through challenging situations. If that’s what I truly want, I need to release control. The only way this can be done is for me to trust them, especially as I teach them to drive.

Am I helping or hindering?

I wanted to be more chill while teaching my daughter to drive, but it wasn’t easy. The steps to get there started by me recognizing my anxiety was not helping my daughter, making her more nervous. Since a large part of learning to drive is building confidence, I knew this needed to change. I spoke openly with her about my feelings, and she assured me she was capable.

Me keeping my mouth shut more often turned out to be effective. Yes, it’s important to give instruction, but it’s equally important to carefully choose words and know when to speak up and when to let her figure it out. That takes a lot of practice on both parts!

teaching my child how to drive
Image Credit Forty Seven Moments Photography

Is driver’s ed really necessary?

It’s not mandatory to take driver’s ed in the state of Connecticut. Still, there are benefits, including a shorter period to get your license after receiving your learner’s permit. Also, some insurance companies offer discounts on your car insurance if your child has completed driver’s ed.

A big benefit for us was having a non-parent help teach our child to drive. We know our kids respond differently to other adults, especially regarding instruction, so this option appealed to us.

Finally, a lot has changed since we learned to drive, and even though we think we know it all, we certainly don’t. The driving instructors have been able to prepare our daughter for the final driving test in ways we can’t. We are given feedback from the instructor after each driving lesson, including specific ways our daughter can improve and how to avoid point deductions. Even though driver’s ed is costly, it has been worth it to us. We recommend you start saving for it now!

Do you have more questions about teaching your child to drive? Feel free to leave a comment here or head over to the FCM’s Facebook page to chat. 


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