This truly is one of the greatest skills I’ve developed in my seventeen years, and because I’m such a generous person, I’m going to give a few tips to help you teenagers out.
*Disclaimer: since I’ve only dealt with one set of parents, my tips might not work with everyone. But hey, they’re worth a shot.
1: Baby Steps. Never ever pitch the entire idea to your parents to begin with. Never. Always begin with the tiniest, least-threatening portion of your plan.
For years, my parents insisted that they weren’t going to let me get my license until I was seventeen, in order to ensure that I’d have plenty of practice driving with them before I was on my own. They had this terrible picture in their minds of me wrecking and dying, so they seemed to think that twelve additional months of practice would eliminate those odds.
Instead of immediately pushing to get my license at sixteen, I slowly eased into the idea. I already had a job, and I mentioned that being licensed would make getting to and from work a trillion times easier. I was running cross country, and it was a struggle for my mom sometimes to make sure I had a ride to and from practices and meets, so I tossed up the idea that if I were licensed already, I wouldn’t need to find someone to bring me home. With my mom’s work schedule, it was difficult for me to make it to early morning meetings for the various clubs and organizations I was in before school, so I suggested that being licensed would be really helpful.
Finally, my mom gave in and agreed to let me get my license before I was 17, but there were a lot of stipulations. I’ll get to that later, though. On to the next tip.
2: Pick The Easier Parent. You guys know the drill… if Mom says no, always ask Dad. If Dad says no, then go ask Mom. That’s how it was as a little kid, going back and forth until you got the answer you were seeking. But by your teenage years, you should know which parent will say yes, depending on the circumstances. Always start with that parent, and once they’re on your side, it’ll be much easier to drag their other half along for the ride.
In my case, I’m much closer with my mom than I am with my stepdad. To be honest, I wasn’t entirely sure where he stood on the case of my license, whether he was just agreeing with my mom or if he truly cared about my waiting ’til I was seventeen to drive alone. So, naturally, I worked on my mom first, and once she broke down and sided with me, she just filled him in on what was going to happen and things went pretty smoothly from there.
3: Compromise. Remember earlier, when I mentioned those stipulations that my mom gave me for obtaining my license? Here’s where I’m going to hit harder on those. Mom agreed to let me get my license, but told me I could only drive to and from work, to and from cross country, and that I could only drive to school on days I either had practice or a meeting before or after school. I was a little put-out by that at first, since I really was longing for the freedom of being able to drive wherever, whenever without being accompanied by an adult, but I know my mom very well. I know that if I let her think things will go according to her plan, there’s always a little room to wiggle around her rules later. And so, I agreed to her stipulations. Only months after I got my license, I was allowed to drive into town and to my friends houses. Today, I mention heading an hour or two away into the city with a friend, and my mom barely bats an eyelash. Baby steps and compromise work hand in hand in getting your way.
Another thing I should add is that I volunteered to pay for my driver’s ed class, which was two hundred dollars, and my mom really didn’t feel like paying for it. I’m pretty sure that by stepping up and responsibly saying “Mom, this is so important to me that I’m willing to pay for it in its entirety,” I really gained some brownie points.
4. Slow Extension. This, too, was already mentioned in my last point. At first, I had to follow my mom’s stipulations exactly. But slowly, I began extending the boundaries, and now, there really isn’t much of a boundary set at all. In a matter of months, I’m going to be eighteen, and I’m really proud of my mom for how well she’s doing with slowly letting go in preparation for the day I move out on my own. (Which is nine months away, for the record.) The idea here is that you need to slowly push your limits, and eventually, the limits will begin to expand.
5. Guilt Trips. Of all the tips I’m giving you, this is by far the dirtiest, sneakiest, most manipulative. It’s also extremely effective when it’s done properly. You can’t overdo guilt trips, or they’re annoying and make you look irresponsible (and when you’re trying to get your way, irresponsibility won’t help you out a bit). You also can’t entirely discount them from your plan of action.
In my own example scenario, while I was trying to convince my mom to let me get my license, I constantly hit on the fact that it was getting colder and darker outside, and that pretty soon walking home from work (even though it’s only about a quarter of a mile) was going to be dangerous and difficult. I also mentioned how terrible it was to have to wait an hour or more outside in the wind after practice or a meet for her to get off work and come pick me up (I didn’t mention that I sort of liked the quiet time to myself while I waited). Moms are compassionate. They love their babies, even if sometimes it doesn’t seem like it. That’s why this tip can be so effective. If my mom thinks for an instance that I’m too cold or that I’m too hungry or that I’m in some way not taken care of, she immediately wants to fix it and make sure I’m safe and secure. Hit on your mom’s motherly instincts and it’ll be a struggle for her to turn you down.
It’s important to note with this tip that saying things like “but mom, it’s not fair. All the other kids get to…” will potentially backfire and ensure that you do not get your way. Never use the phrase “not fair” or compare your situation to that of another child. And again, don’t over do the guilt trips. That’s also ineffective.
I wish you luck on your mission of persuasion.