DEAR HARRIETTE: My son is 16 and learning how to drive. About a year ago, he was involved in a golf cart accident that was really traumatizing for him. He was with his friend, driving a golf cart when he did not even have a permit. The golf cart was on a bumpy road. He lost control, and it fell on top of him. Since then, he has been hesitant to drive because he was injured in the accident -- he broke his nose, sprained his ankle and was badly bruised and scarred. My husband and I are trying to teach him how to drive and let him know that he won't be injured, but he is afraid. How should we tell him that driving will not be as bad as he thinks? -- Skittish, Westchester, New York
DEAR SKITTISH: Your son has a legitimate reason to be afraid of driving. He suffered the repercussions of driving without proper training and had to pay significant consequences for it. You cannot prove to him that he will always be safe or free from harm in a car, because you don't know that. What you can do is to get him prepared so that he has all of the tools needed to succeed as a driver.
Preparation includes getting him therapy so that he can talk about the emotional effects that his golf cart accident had on him. He should talk through the experience with a professional and consider how he can heal from that trauma as fully as possible. He also needs formal driving lessons. It would be better if you were not the teachers. You mean well, but he would probably do better going to a professional driving school where he learns every detail about driving from an expert. This should help him relax and realize that one accident does not automatically trigger another.