When’s the right time to give your teen responsibility?

The question of when it’s right to give your teenager more independence and responsibility is one that has troubled parents since… well, probably since forever. We want to look after our kids for as long as we possibly can, but at some point we need to release the reins and let them develop into adults.

One age that is especially problematic is when you should let them loose on the roads. After years of transporting them around, to and from school, football practise, music gigs, dates, the urge to give them their own way of easily getting around is pretty strong. But although the UK ranks among the top European countries for road safety, every parent is vividly aware of the hazards out there and it can be a challenging decision to let your teenager start taking lessons. Many teenagers prefer to start out with a scooter or motorcycle rather than a car.

They are usually less expensive to buy, maintain and insure, and prominent dealers such as Metropolis Motorcycles stock a wide range of high-quality bikes and scooters that are both reliable and stylish. So when should you let your teenager take the first steps toward getting on two wheels?

Well, obviously every teenager is different, and nobody knows your child better than you, the parents, but some experts stress the importance of the three R’s – Respect, Responsibility, and Reliability. These can be applied to any aspect of life, but in terms of riding a bike, they could be discussed as follows:

Does your child show a healthy respect for the general rules of life?  We are taught to respect authority from an early age, from parents to religious figures to employers – and there’s nothing wrong with being prepared to challenge authority when necessary – but can be confident that your teen will be prepared to take on board the wisdom that an instructor will pass on, or to respect the rules of the road?  If you can, then the time is right

We teach our kids to take responsibility from an early age.  Potty training, learning to tie shoelaces, understanding why it’s wrong to lie – these are all first steps to becoming a responsible person.  Hopefully by the time he or she reaches the age of 16, your teen will be an honest person capable of getting to the bathroom on time, and not tripping over loose shoelaces on the way.  Being in charge of a moving vehicle is a large responsibility.  They have the safety of themselves, any passengers they carry, and other road users, on their shoulders.  Is your teen a responsible person?  Would you be happy letting them ride your own bike, or drive the family car?  If you would, then the time is right.

It’s not just about learning how to ride a bike.  It’s being able to ride it safely, time after time.  Does your teen demonstrate that they can be relied upon?  Do they arrive home at the scheduled time after a night out?  Can they manage money?  Maintaining a motorbike or scooter requires budgeting.  Do they show the ability to look after the things they own properly? If they do, then the time is right.

It must never be forgotten or ignored that riding a bike carries an inherent risk with it.
Your teenager is protected by only three things:
  • The quality and type of bike they ride
  • The quality of the safety gear they wear
  • Their own actions

Your teenager must be ready to ride.  But you, as their parents, have your own responsibilities.

You have a duty of care, to make them aware of the risks, as well as the rewards, of independence in transport.  Parents need to ensure their children receive the right amount of tuition not just to get them past their test, but to keep them safe on the roads.  They need to see to it that their child never takes a bike out on the road without insurance, or a helmet and leathers.  And when it comes to buying the first bike for your teen, whether you’re paying or they are, it needs to be right for them – reliable, in good working order, and never to powerful for their abilities.

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