Childs First Car

Dear Sara,

My almost sixteen-year-old son wants a car for his birthday. I have been trying to teach him to drive and I really don’t think he is ready to be on his own. He thinks “all of his friends have cars.” I’m pretty sure this isn’t true. He also seems somewhat immature for his age although he thinks otherwise. He knows we can afford the car but I feel like he would be off with no supervision and can get himself in trouble. How can I slow him down?

Dear Cameron,

Does your son think that you should provide car, car insurance and gas for him? Maybe he needs a lesson in how the real world works. Let him know that he has to work to earn his car. He can get a part-time job and start putting money away. If you want to pay for part of it give him the amount that you will provide and let him earn the rest on his own.

Your his father and you know what your son is capable of doing. If you give him a car against your better judgment and he gets hurt you won’t be able to forgive yourself.


  1. Ron Moore says:

    Your son thinks he belongs to the “Me Too Generation” – where parents give lavish birthday parties for sixteen, buy them a car…..and treat them as a buddy, friend, etc, but not as a Parent who will say no. if that sixteen year old works for the car, pays for the insurance, pays for the gas…..he will be serious enough minded to respect it and others. Once a Parent becomes a Friend, a Kool One…’s gone forever.

    • Ron Moore, I couldn’t agree more! If this kid (and he IS a kid) has this expectation his parents will provide him a car with no effort, that’s pathetic. If you DO buy him a car, make sure it’s an old clunker! That’s what my folks did for me and I had to learn how to maintain it to keep it running. It was a great learning tool, too. When I was finally ready to get my own car (after about a year and a half) it truly made me realize how much I appreciated working to get my own car. BTW, I lost both of my only sisters in car accidents (16 and 29). Some people are way too immature at 16 to have their own car. My youngest son didn’t even bother to get his license until he was 18. At 27, he has a clean driving record.

  2. Dear Cameron,

    There is a lot to think about when letting a sixteen year old behind the wheel. First off,
    he would be an inexperienced driver and I
    was of the belief a teenager needed so many
    hours banked in driving time to actually go
    driving alone in a car by themselves.

    I would consider a second hand car for a first
    timer since the insurance on a new car plus
    inexperienced driver which he would be
    would not be cheap. There is always the meet
    him half way where he needs to earn some
    money toward the new car and other expenses
    which should give you time on the car situation.

  3. Tom Blair says:

    Need I point out that should your son prove himself irresponsible in his behavior in other things that more likely than not he will also be irresponsible in owning and operating a motor vehicle. Just how would you feel if he acted immaturely and either disabled or killed another person and/or even himself? A car without a job is not a good idea for most teenagers. How do I know? I lost two high school friends at age 16 in car wrecks … to this very day, and yes, I still know them as friends, still express to me that as these two boys (not men) parents 30 years later still wish they would have listened to their adult and mature thought patterns and mindsets. Tough love and taught personal responsibility plus a job = need for transportation … otherwise, not one good reason … I still miss my friends and cry tears for and with their still-hurting parents.

  4. Tom Blair says:

    I might add: Ask a local traffic cop if he will speak with your son and explain how it feels to deliver bad news to the parents of children permitted to drive before they are capable of understanding the consequences of a single bad decision over speed, personal lack of driving experience, hit-and-run consequences, negligent homicide in a motor vehicle, etc., etc.
    You are his parent … do all that you can to save his life and limb … unless you intend to do without him, see him graduate from high school and college, get married, have kids of his own, and live to have grandchildren and perhaps even great grandchildren. Could you live without him? Can he somehow be replaced if you lost him in a car wreck? Please do not let him badger you into making a very serious error in judgment on your part and/or those of your spouse either.

  5. A.I. Marvin says:

    When your son is able to buy a car for himself, provide maintenance, insurance, and gas then he can have his car. Parents are obligated to provide clothes, food, and shelter.

  6. Leya Yetta says:

    If all of your son’s friends do have their own cars they could drive him. Then he could pay them for gas, learning one cost of driving, and there would be one less car on the road.

  7. Don’t buy a car for your teenager!
    Let him earn the money to buy a used car. He’ll appreciate it!
    My parents never bought a car for me or my six siblings. Our Dad co signed notes for two of them to buy a car when they had full time jobs. Dad sold a car to one of my brothers when Dad was getting a new car.
    I won the argument with my husband about buying a car for our now 30 year old daughter. She had started saving money when she was 13 and had enough for a nice used car that he helped her pick when she was 17. We paid her insurance but she did the training the insurance company required, maintained her grades for the good student discount, and kept the safe driver discount by never getting a ticket. She has never caused an accident and never had a ticket. We did buy her a 9 year newer used car just before she graduated from college. She’s still driving it because she maintains it.
    Don’t give in to your 15 year old child!

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