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When to take away mom’s car keys

Most children cannot wait until the day they can take the car keys from mom and drive off with newfound independence. However, we rarely anticipate the day we have to take away the keys from our parents permanently.

It’s a horrible role reversal but a situation that most people deal with. Eventually, we all have a discussion with our senior parents about the dangers of driving– to themselves or others. While it is tempting to procrastinate the conversation for as long as possible, you want to address it before it’s too late.

Make realistic expectations

When you are ready to have the conversation, start off with realistic expectations for your parents. Instead of asking them to stop driving altogether, you can start with not driving at night. With small goals or limitations, it will not feel as inhibiting as taking away their car all at once.

The "conversation" will take several discussions over time, so don’t rush your mom into any circumstances she is not prepared for. It will also give you time to plan a transportation strategy for your mom, whether it’s carpooling to church or weekly rides to the grocery store.

Start slowly

You don’t have to dive head first into the conversation. You can slowly approach the discussion by asking her general driving experiences with her. She can tell you about any concerns while you shift towards future driving plans. 

A good example is if your mom recently had a small fender bender. You could ask her about the incident and follow up with, “How are you doing with driving? Do you still feel comfortable behind the wheel?” It will promote an open, honest conversation between you and your parent.

Stay empathetic

A realistic expectation for you is your parents’ opposition. Your mom might tell you several reasons why she needs to drive and all the events she needs to go to. It might be frustrating to address but put yourself in her shoes. Losing your ability to drive is one step closer to not doing tasks for yourself. It makes you face the idea that you are getting older.

Stay on message and let your mom know you understand how she feels. You are only addressing the topic for her safety and you will help along the way, between providing rides and emotional support.

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