I got my drivers license when I was 16, and instead of getting a Jeep Wrangler like I had always dreamed about, my parents bought me a very used Ford Ranger truck. The exterior was a ugly gray color, and it didn't even have a radio or tape deck (yes, I just said tape deck) to play my mixed tapes.
Surprising me with this beast was a calculated move on my parents part, and while I was extremely grateful to have four wheels, I must admit I was a tiny bit annoyed as well.
Their reasoning was twofold:
The truck was a stick shift, and my dad decided that if I wanted to drive my own wheels, I would have to learn how to drive a stick. And secondly, since it was a truck, I could only drive myself around and one passenger. He felt driving around too many kids at one time was a recipe for disaster, and a pickup truck was the perfect answer in regards to minimizing my passenger count. And whoa girl, if I was ever caught with humans in the back bed of that truck, he made it clear that I would lose my driving privileges for eternity.
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At the time, I was 100 shades of annoyed. I had no tunes to listen to, an annoying stick shift to learn, and I could only pack one friend in the car with me, who typically ended up being my carpooling younger sister was just icing on the cake.
But now that I'm a parent, I totally get it. And I'm definitely going to follow my dads lead when my kids are old enough to take the wheel. These days there are so many distractions on and off the road happening around all around us, that you bet I'm going to make it as safe for my kids to drive as possible.
Which means I have to set a good example for them today, so that when they hit the legal driving age, that have a firm foundation of what it looks like to be a safe driver.
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A few ways I try to be a good role model from behind the wheel:
1. The music can be on, but at a reasonable level where we can hold a nice conversation, and I can hear any approaching emergency vehicles coming our way. Jammin' out and dance parties are better suited for the living room, not the back seat.
2. No cell phone calls ever. If I need to make a call while we're out, we pull into a parking lot.
3. No snacking behind the wheel.
4. No reaching behind the seat and helping the kids pick up a dropped toy or blanket. If you drop it while I'm driving, sorry about your luck, but you'll just have to do without until we get where we're going.
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5. No applying makeup or hand lotions while waiting at the stoplight. While I've never really done this one myself, I feel like I see it being done almost daily.
Driving around a large family is distracting to say the least. Someone is always crying, dropping a toy, or wanting a DVD changed right-this-very-second. And while your kids will might temporarily resent you for not meeting their demands in the moment, I can assure you that it's making a long term impact on what type of driver they will grow up to be.
- By Emily Malone
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