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A lesson in confidence (and a prayer for a new driver)

Before you become a parent, you don’t realize all the lessons you’re going to teach: how to blow your nose, how to eat a taco, how to share a toy with your brother, how to put your dishes in the sink.

These days, I go around parking lots to teach my son to drive.

Before he even turned the key for the first time, I explained to him all the pedals, levers and dashboard lights. I explained how to adjust the mirrors. I tried to give him a lot of advice.

But of course, you don’t learn to drive by listening to your mother talk. So I told him to start the car and take his foot off the brake. And the car started moving.

Letting your child drive your car is exciting and terrifying. And I found myself thinking about how often God asks us to place our trust not only in Him, but also in others.

Trusting those around you is easier in theory than in practice. But I see that God wants me to believe in this teenage driver by my side. After all, letting him drive is the only way for him to learn and grow. And helping her learn and grow is part of my job as a mother.

So I must put aside anxiety and choose faith. I need to believe that everything will be fine. I have to put the keys in my son’s hands, put the situation in God’s hands and relinquish control.

It is not easy. I do not prefer. But it’s the only way.

Parents of teenagers already know this. In truth, all parents know this.

We sent children to school when they seemed too young to go.

We let them climb and take on new challenges when we weren’t sure they were prepared.

We have seen them fail and we have seen them succeed.

We have seen how they come into their own.

Sometimes they do things differently from what we want and it doesn’t end well. Sometimes they do things better than expected. It’s not always easy to let them grow and grow apart, but that’s part of the gift of parenting.

So my son and I walk around the parking lot together. I try to be as calm as possible, to listen more than to criticize, to ask him to describe what he sees rather than tell him what I see. Some days I do better than others.

I watch him sitting in the driver’s seat and marvel at how quickly time flies. I am so proud of the person he is becoming. He still has a bit to learn – and so do I, as I always do with each new step. What a gift to learn alongside him.

A prayer for a new driver

My God, keep this driver safe on the roads.
Help them to be focused and alert,
Never forget that they share the road with others.
May they drive with compassion and care,
And only meet others who do the same.
Wherever they go may they travel with peace and love
And know that you are with them every moment.

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