Why I’m Not Buying My Kid a Car

4 Jun

I was not given a car when I turned 16, when I graduated from high school or when I graduated from college. In fact, I have never been given a car. So, maybe it’s jealousy I feel when I see my son’s 16-yo friends getting cars–brand new ones!– but I think it might be something more sensible. Here’s my Monday newspaper column on the subject.


Did you have a car in high school? Who bought it? I used the family car until I bought my own.

12 Responses to “Why I’m Not Buying My Kid a Car”

  1. societyred June 4, 2012 at 12:48 pm #

    I had a car in high school that I also paid $500 for. It was a primer gray mg midget that my dad strongly advised my not to buy since I had/have zero mechanic skills. It ran for 20 minutes and then sat in my parents driveway until dad sold it while I was away at college a year later, lesson learned. My parents would have laughed if I had asked them to buy me a car in high school, it was never discussed, it didn’t have to be.
    When my kids were in high school they went through a phase where they said they simply were never going to drive since it was so bad for the environment. That was shortly after they became vegan and demanded that we all stop eating meat and cheese and everything else that is good. That also lasted about 20 minutes. They eventually decided a car would be a good thing to have and though I pushed for the benefit of teaching self-reliance I lost the battle due to different parenting approaches and other complicated factors. Fast-forward 15 years and I realize now that the lesson of self-reliance is probably in the top-five of important lessons to teach to your kids. Good luck!

  2. nevercontrary June 4, 2012 at 7:54 pm #

    My grandma saved me her 16 year old car. I got it when I was fifteen. Dial clock. Only one radio station. White metal box with sexy blue interior. I was like Yes!! a car!!!

  3. the circular runner June 4, 2012 at 10:25 pm #

    You know, I tend to agree with this. Though, I would ask you if your decision is based on a sense of “I didn’t get this, so my kid shouldn’t, either,” OR is this a stance built on principle. I get the latter. There’s something to be said about teaching your kid to work for a goal and not be handed everything. AND yet, there’s also that sense that you want your kids to be better off than you.

    I know. I know. What’s my point? What can I say? I’m a Libra and studied Philosophy–basically, I’m a basket case. Good luck on your decision!!

    • jmlindy422 June 4, 2012 at 10:34 pm #

      You know, I have wondered if there is some “I didn’t have it, so you can’t” going on, but I’m pretty sure I’m purely standing on principle. My son has ADHD and the statistics are even worse for kids with ADHD and driving. Something like 80 percent of kids with ADHD have an accident in their first year of driving. He could have done drivers ed last year, but I did not remind him of any of the meetings. He didn’t remember, so I figured it wasn’t that big a priority. This year, he’s remembered everything, despite his ADHD. So, being more conservative seems to be paying off. My mother was a Libra, all I can say is “Oy!” Thanks for the good wishes.

      • philosophermouseofthehedge June 10, 2012 at 6:48 pm #

        Some new studies came out last week on ADHD kids driving. Try googling it? (Basically they found if the ADHD kid got more practice time behind the wheel, practiced a lot on video driving situations, were not allowed to have teenagers in car with them, they did OK as drivers….sounds like ALL teenagers could benefit from those?) Anyway, might be worth a look – it was on TV national news, too.
        If it makes you feel any better, I know some ADHD kids who are now in late 20’s who have never had a ticket or a wreck….and boy was that a surprise! Talk about dingy. Hang in there!

      • tim June 30, 2012 at 2:28 pm #

        i feel like this is attacking people with ADHD, which i happen to have and i happen to be a great driver, i am offended, it is a statistic…completely offended with your post.

      • jmlindy422 June 30, 2012 at 4:39 pm #

        Tim, my son has ADHD. The simple fact, and I have researched it, is that teenagers with ADHD are in more accidents in their first year of driving than other first year drivers. Eighty percent of teens with ADHD are in an accident their first year driving. It’s great that you are obviously in the twenty percent. I want to ensure that my son is in that twenty percent as well. I read and listen to everything I can about ADHD so that I can more effectively parent him. Learning about teen drivers and ADHD is part of thoughtful parenting, I believe.

  4. Mad Queen Linda June 6, 2012 at 2:01 pm #

    That was quite a conversation over at the Patch.

    I came from a “car family.” It was a given that I’d buy my parents’ car at 16, and my father tried to get me to buy a car he liked when I was 15. I was never very good about making payments for the one I got from them at 16, and I was something of an irresponsible driver. I wish I had the money I wasted on those cars. It seems like your thinking about your son being more responsible or respectful of your car is logical.

    • jmlindy422 June 6, 2012 at 2:08 pm #

      I do try to be logical, your Majesty. Thanks for dropping by.

  5. philosophermouseofthehedge June 10, 2012 at 6:53 pm #

    It depends on the kid and situation. First the economics. Insurance and cars are expensive – so ours had to share my car – despite the fact she had a job, and good grades. She wasn’t happy but life is what it is….sometimes things you have to wait for are valued more.
    My husband rebuilt a old dead car at age 11 and got it running. (It got sold, but he continued to buy and rebuild cars for years). Quite valuable skills learned there!

  6. tim June 30, 2012 at 2:31 pm #

    what do you think when a parent passes their old car down to a sibling, but then the next year, when the other sibling gets their learners permit, and the other parent trades in their old car, and this is my “isssue”(not sure what to call it) and both kids are going to need a car… one car is almost a year old, the other one is two weeks old…. what do you do then? (parents can afford a decent car. what i was thinking was they would put cash down, and finance the car, the other kid would get a job, and then they would pay their parents back.) what do you think?

    • jmlindy422 June 30, 2012 at 4:44 pm #

      Well, Tim, I obviously believe that kids should buy their own cars. Until I could afford my own car, I used the family car. It sounds like you want your parents to either get a loan that you will pay back or co-sign a loan. I would talk to my parents about the issue and make a strong case for my need of a car and my responsibility and trustworthiness in making the car payments.

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