Discussing driving behavior with your parents can become a heated discussion very quickly. Unfortunately, some adults lose the ability to make quick judgment and drive safely.
When this happens, it’s necessary to discuss with your parents the need to stop driving. Of course, many parents are going to react negatively to any loss of independence, and there’s the added pressure of being told by your own children that you can’t handle doing something anymore. That’s why it’s necessary to approach the situation carefully and compassionately.
Create an Action Plan
Before meeting with one or both of your parents to discuss the situation, have an action plan in place. As you might remember from your own experience when waiting to receive a driver’s license, there’s a tremendous sense of independence and freedom associated with driving a vehicle.
A change in the ability to drive can dramatically affect your parent’s life, so it is critical that you have alternative plans prepared before you even discuss the options with them. Perhaps you or another family member will be available to provide transportation, or maybe you have located a community agency that will help them get where they need to go. Regardless, you must have an alternative plan in place. It’s very likely that you will face opposition from your parents, but providing other options will help lay the groundwork for the changes. No parent wants to hear that they are losing their independence entirely, so consider all options before even bringing the subject up.
Be prepared to hear negative comments and arguments from your parents about why they should still be allowed to drive. Although it’s possible that some incidents may have occurred because of their driving, try to steer the conversation away from negative aspects. Rather than focusing on the past, continue to return to your concern about your parent’s personal safety. Make sure that you are somehow involved in helping transition to this new life. For example, there reduced transportation ability could be assisted by a commitment from you to help with grocery shopping once a week, or even a regular family dinner. One of the most challenging feelings that older people experience is that of isolation, so you want to make sure that your parents are able to stay well connected even when the option of driving a car has been removed from the equation.
Generate Support From Other Family Members
If possible, this is a conversation that should happen with the support of other family members. It’s important that everyone agrees on a common approach and language before meeting with your parents. Other family members should also be involved in the transition, since you might receive resistance from your parents, or have to alter your own schedule in order to help them accomplish what they need to do on a daily or weekly basis. More often than not, convincing your parents that they need to stop driving will require some adjustment and sacrifices on your part. Investigating alternative transportation arrangements before initiating this change can greatly assist your parents during the transition period, and reduce the likelihood of a family battle over driving privileges.