It’s usually a truck or sometimes an older car. The inside of the vehicles are decorated with a mixture of ironic photographs and/or action figures. The drivers are the same mixture of common individuality, sporting spotty facial hair, trendy clothing (or sloppy), and a forced expression of interest. And I’m supposed to be good with placing one of my prized possessions into their care.
If you’re the father of teenage girls you are familiar with the struggle, if your daughters are too young to date you will be familiar. The struggle we all face is how to balance the inevitability of dating with the honest desire to never let your precious girl out of the house…ever. My solution: the boyfriend driving test.
Before a new boy can take responsibility for my daughter’s safety they must pass a no kiddin’ driver’s test during which the boy and I (alone) drive a test route complete with turns, merges, highway driving, and attention tests. The driving is really a secondary goal, primarily the test accomplishes several, things chief among them: let the boy know who i am (I’m pretty big but that doesn’t matter), that I care deeply for my daughters, and to give me a platform for “the talk.” The driver test goes down like this:
- Meet the boy and get in the passenger seat making a big show of buckling the safety belt. NOTE: If the boy doesn’t get out of the vehicle to meet you make sure to point that out.
- Explain the route and what you expect out of the test…start driving
- Start with small talk and see how distracted they are…what do you do? are you in athletics? do you go to church? etc.
- Halfway through the test start with the harder questions: Do you drink alcohol? Do your friends? How do you treat girls?
- Right before the end of the test, when he is really starting to squirm, start “the talk.” You will know how to craft your talk, mine goes something like this:
“[Boy] I want you to know something, my daughter is precious to me, I take great pride in her and her safety. Throughout her life I have taken the awesome responsibility for her safety very seriously. When you pick her up I am transferring that responsibility temporarily to you, I expect you to take the responsibility as seriously as I do. If you’re thinking you have to do something to impress her stop that thinking, she is already impressed or she wouldn’t have agreed to a date. There is no need to speed, peel out, or take curves too fast. Most people like to go the speed limit plus 5 mph because the police give a cushion…I expect the opposite, drive 2-5 mph UNDER the speed limit.
You will tell me where you are going and what you are doing, if you deviate from your schedule I expect a call from you. You will return her to the house exactly on time unless you have to speed to get her there. If you will be late you will call and let me know, and I will give you a grace period so you do not have to speed to get her home.[NOTE: The severity of this next part depends on how much of a jerk the boy seems to be] Should you not take your safety responsibility seriously and put my daughter at risk or God forbid hurt her, I will not be happy and you WILL suffer the wrath of my displeasure.”
I’ve never failed a boy during the driving test but have come close. My favorite statement during a test so far is, “My mom is very strict on my driving, this is only the third time she has let me drive on the highway alone.” These types of statements don’t inspire confidence, but with the right focus during “the talk” will help mitigate concerns, but they will never go away.
It’s important to note that my daughters say they hate the boyfriend driving test, but it’s apparent they love that I care enough to keep them safe. When a boy asks them out they know to inform them about the driving test. They have figured out that the ones who refuse to take it are not boy’s they want to be with…
Good luck and I will pray for you.