Parenting Teens: First Time Driver

Standing in the driveway, I watched the van drive slowly down the street. I waved. Again. My hand paused high in the air. I would not move to go back inside until it was completely gone from view. This step needed to happen.

Grant the freedom.

I could not let my fears limit my son's opportunity to take the next step of independence. I needed to let go. With tears in my eyes, I took a deep breath. For the first time ever, my 16-year-old boy was driving to soccer practice without an adult by his side. Instead, his little brother rode beside him. Both boys wore big grins. The feeling of freedom was palpable.

Recognize the path.

Still outside, I stood awash in the memories that led to this moment. I could see my firstborn learn to crawl on our apartment floor, take tenuous first steps toward our old denim couch, balance and bobble on his black two-wheel bike, step high into the school bus on his very first day. He has been moving toward this moment since the first day of his life and there is more to come. Genesis 2:24 tells us, "Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh." From birth our children are on a trajectory to leave us- it is part of God's plan.

Celebrate accomplishments.

And while I can mourn the loss of what is familiar to me, my tears can mean something else. There is a gift in watching kids grow up. These scenes of him have added richness to my life. As his momma, I have been present at so many moments of joy and growth and laughter and tears, and all of it is wonder and miracle to me. Because this 8 lb. 5 oz. God-given-gift began so helpless and small and has somehow grown into a teen who is taller than me and capable of so much compassion and wisdom. It happened so slowly that I can only understand it in the remembering.

Live in gratitude.

Here, while my baby drives my van down the street. I know that I will be grateful for this important new skill. But for today, I am also deeply aware of how often I am left standing, watching my boy’s back: as he toddles away, rides his bike down the street, or drives his brother to soccer on a summer night. It is the calling of motherhood, I have come to believe. And while it may bring tears, I am not sad but grateful for God's provision at ever turn. Recognizing the blessing of navigating life together.

Trust God.

I am struck by the beauty of my boy growing up. Mindful of how blessed I am to see all of this. Mindful of how reliant I have become upon my God to keep my son safe as he ventures forth. You see our children may leave our home, but they are never outside the view of their Heavenly Father. We can trust that God loves our children even more than we do. Deuteronomy 31:6 tells us, “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” Our children gain independence from us but they are never independent on God.

It’s a lot for a momma to take in as she stands in the driveway with her hand still in the air. Watching him go, every breath a prayer for him.

About the author — Nadia Swearingen-Friesen

Nadia Swearingen-Friesen is a writer and national speaker with a passion for empowering parents to approach their families with great intentionality and grace.  Nadia and her husband, Mark, are the parents of four children and live in the Chicago area. Nadia also blogs at

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