My Mom Took My Keys: Importance of Resourcefulness:

We have a guest post on our blog today from Roxanne Turner.  Roxanne is a Board Certified Life Coach with extensive training in ADHD and executive functioning, focusing on the process of getting things done.


Many moons ago, when I was 17, my mom and I got into a fight. No one seems to remember what it was about; this was not an unusual occurrence. Regardless, the outcome was my mom took my car keys and license away. No more driving for me.

I had learned enough in my 17 years to pose a few follow up questions. “So, does this mean I can’t go to the barn?” My passion was with horses and spent every spare minute taking care of them and riding them. My friends knew if you wanted to find me call the barn.

Her answer:  I could still go to the barn but I couldn’t use the car to get myself there. Since she was so angry with me she didn’t realize she had just signed herself up for schlepping my brother around again. Part of the deal for me being allowed to drive the car was taking my brother to practice and to his friends.

Luckily, the barn was only about two miles from my house. The downside was we lived near a pretty busy intersection and there wasn’t much of a shoulder. I had some planning to do but was determined to get to the barn.

First, I called the barn owner to see if she could pick me up during the week after school. I worked at the barn, bringing in the horses, feeding them, and watered them most afternoons. Seemed to me she should be inclined to pick me up. In fact, she was able to do that three days a week.  Three down, four to go (yes, I went to the barn every day of the week)!

Next step, I tried borrowing mom’s mountain bike and took back roads and trails to the barn. It took me a couple hours, because I got lost. Luckily, it was a weekend so the timing didn’t matter. The ride home was a little better, yet the indirect route still seemed to take too long.

Riding the main road seemed like certain death so it was time for a new plan. I decided I could walk the ditches or hill sides next to the main road. I made it to my destination safe and sound and in record time.  Just as I happily settled into my new routine, mom handed me the keys as she was tired of driving my brother around every day.

What I learned when my mom took away my driving privileges is how to be resourceful and look for multiple solutions when obstacles were presented to me.   You have to be willing to ask for help, in this case getting a ride from a friend. If that’s not possible strategize other options. Some of my solutions were more efficient and successful than others. Sure, I was super annoyed when I became lost on the trails heading to the barn, but I found my way and I learned.

So, I wonder, how are we challenging our kids of all ages to figure out how to come up with different solutions instead of just depending on us? For example, I taught my boys how to use the bus so they wouldn’t be limited by my schedule. I also encourage them to get on their bikes and ride to wherever they want to go, whether it’s the ice cream store or the rec center.

Yes, it’s scary to give our kids the freedom to explore and discover on their own. But we often don’t give our kids enough credit.  They are capable of amazing things with a little preparation and encouragement.  And a few failures along the way is ok.  The brain develops through experiences, successful or otherwise.

I am always keeping the big picture in mind. The real world provides obstacles and “no’s,” and it’s up to individuals to figure out ways around them. Sometimes, it takes us longer to accomplish our goal — as I got lost on the trails — but that can also ignite a desire to find a different solution.

Challenging your kids in the beginning can be small. For example, can they make their own breakfast? How do they get to the bowls if they are too short to reach them?

If they want to go to the movies and there are a lot of chores to do ask them to see what kind of plan they can come up with. You can use cards for expected chores and plot out a timeline so they have to work backwards to determine when to leave for the movies. Leave the room and ask them to share with you the idea when they are ready. Your job is to ask questions and mention concerns, but let them develop and adjust the plan.

Sometimes you might get some crazy ideas. Go with it and have fun!

One thing I love about being a parent is having the ability to teach my kids how they can get to yes. It brings me great joy to see them put in the effort to figure it out even when I am the one they are trying to rationally inconvenience.


Photo by Daryn Stumbaugh on Unsplash