Many parents are often torn between giving their children more than they themselves had, but also not raising them to be spoiled and expects things. This dilemma can get especially difficult when it comes to helping your kid get their first car.
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This week’s letter comes from Ryan whose teenage son just got his license. Ryan agrees that it’s time for junior to get a car but is worried that a gift won’t foster responsibility.
My son just recently got his license and naturally, has been asking for a car. He is is a good kid who does well in school and loves cars just like his dad. The problem is he doesn’t have much money to buy a car on his own. Most of his summer job savings is put aside for college. Between academics and extracurricular activities, it doesn’t leave him much time during the school year to work.
He could probably scrounge up two or three grand for a cheap ride, but I would rather see him in something a little newer and in better shape. A relative is selling her 2008 Impala with low miles for around $8000. I think this would be a better choice since it can probably last him through college and beyond. So I would like to buy it for him as a Christmas gift.
However, people keep telling me that if you gift your kids cars they won’t learn what it’s like to be responsible and save for a major purchase. Should I have him buy something on his own or pitch in for this car? Can you give a kid a car without making them entitled?
Also, how do you feel about those “big brother” devices for teens that cap their speed and track their driving data?
As a parent with younger kids, I have already started thinking about how I’m going to handle this scenario when the time comes. With any parenting dilemma I think the old adage applies, “if you’re worried about doing the right thing, you’re probably doing the right thing.”
Ryan, you know your kid best, and if he’s the type to appreciate this gift and use it as an opportunity to become more mature and responsible, don’t second guess your generosity in giving your kid a car.
Many parents gift their cars to their kids, and you are correct that a well maintained $8,000 Impala bought from a family member is probably going last a bit longer than a cheap beater from some random person. Since your son has already done the smart thing and socked some money away for college, I don’t really see the need for him to kick in a few grand for this gift.