7 Reasons Why Your Teenager Doesn’t Want to Get His Driver’s License Yet

Updated on December 10, 2016
Art by Chris Desatoff
Art by Chris Desatoff

When you were a kid, you couldn’t wait to go take that dumb test and get your driver’s license. You dreamed about it for years. Ah…freedom.

So now your son is 16 and you’re ready to go get him behind the wheel and teach him all the incredibly useful and safe driving tips that you’ve accumulated over the last couple decades.

But what’s this? He still hasn’t received his driver’s permit yet? He never even took the test? He refuses to study that booklet you gave him?

“Later,” he always says?

Should I Be Worried If My Son Doesn’t Want To Learn To Drive?

Nope. Don’t sweat it. There are certainly some really good reasons for him to learn now rather than later, but you just can’t force him into it. Don’t assume your teen is just being lazy – that’s usually not the case. Teenagers – just like adults – can be pretty complicated, and there could be dozens of reasons why they might not want to go take their drivers test.

Here are seven of them…

Art by Chris Desatoff
Art by Chris Desatoff

1. He Wants To Save The Planet From Pollution And Fossil Fuel Dependency

Some people feel guilty if they’re not getting 40 miles to the gallon. And there are others who simply refuse to drive any vehicle that isn’t powered by the sun, the wind, or their own two feet. Your son may be one of those folks. But don’t pressure him about it, and for goodness’ sake, don’t you dare laugh at him or roll your eyes. If your son is thinking about future generations and wants to make a difference in the big picture, then you need to understand him and support his decision.

It’s not about whether you agree or disagree with him; it’s about being a supportive parent.

So be a supportive parent.

2. He’s Nervous About Driving, But He’ll Never Admit It

Maybe it’s been a long time since you first got behind the wheel, so in case you forgot, let me remind you of something: learning to drive is scary. And our kids don’t always get the luxury of learning to drive out on big, open highways with only handfuls of cars around. No, today those roads are more packed than ever, and those cars are flying down the road at breakneck speeds.

I remember being scared silly my first few times getting on the freeway, and that was back when people actually only drove 60 mph on there. Nowadays, if you drive that slow, you’ll get run right off the side of the freeway.

And drivers on the surface streets aren’t always much better.

Art by Chris Desatoff
Art by Chris Desatoff

3. He Gets Major Test Anxiety, But He’ll Never Admit That Either

Some kids are super smart and actually feel relaxed behind the wheel, but they can’t pass a test to save their life. Your kid might simply be avoiding it because he starts to have a panic attack at the thought of taking that test. Try googling “test anxiety,” and you’ll see that your child isn’t alone in this. Support him and help him get through it.

What age were you when you first got your driver's license?

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4. He Wants To Learn, But Not From You

Yeah, you might be all about DIY and saving money, but when it comes to teaching your teen how to drive, you may need to let the professionals handle it. Why? Not because you don’t know how to drive. It’s because it’s you. Yes, you personally.

But don’t take it personally. A lot of teenagers just can’t stand being told what to do by their parents, and when you throw a stressed out teen and a stressed out parent into a moving vehicle that seems to be constantly out of control, that’s just not fun for either of you. Bottom line: your son will learn more from a stranger because there’s no emotional baggage.

The driving instructor will tell him all the same things that you would tell him, but the thing is that your kid will actually listen to those words when they’re not coming out of your mouth. It’s unfair, but it’s true. Get over it and just congratulate him on his progress every step of the way through this.

5. He’s Depressed About His Life, So He’s Not Into Trying New Things

Some kids go through major depression in their teen years, and they just don’t have the motivation to be happy about anything. Also, a lot of teens simply have a lot of stress in their lives, and adding one more big thing to the pile just isn’t appealing. Maybe we were excited at that age to start driving ASAP, but everyone is different. Your teen might be different. Sometimes we need to give them the space to be different.

6. He’s Experienced A Major Trauma Involving An Automobile

Our teenagers don’t tell us very much about themselves, do they? Sure, some kids are pretty open with their parents, but most teens just don’t want to let us in. As a result, we often see them as being moody and irrational. Okay, maybe they really are just moody and irrational, but a lot of times there’s something else going on that we just don’t have a clue about.

Some kids have already been in car accidents – or they have friends who’ve died in accidents – but their parents never even hear about it. The point is that your child may have good reasons for not wanting to be behind the wheel of a car by himself. His reason for this might just be petty and ridiculous, but then again, it might not be.

I Can't Watch! TOO SCARY!!!

7. He Just Doesn’t Want To, And It’s Cool

Hey, guess what. Sometimes kids just want what they want and don’t want what they don’t want. Many teenagers have hidden reasons for why they don’t want to go take their driver’s license test, but sometimes it really has nothing to do with depression or low self-esteem or anxiety or trauma or us or anything.

Sometimes they just don’t feel like learning to drive yet. Later on they probably will, but right now they don’t.

Are you cool with that?

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