Should You Buy Your Teen a Car? The Case For and Against It.
Automologist LING ponders on whether she would or would not buy her imaginary kids a car.
I don’t have a kid, much less a teenage one. But I’ve been reminiscing lately about the time when my friends and I first got our driving license and, with it, the freedom to explore further than our neighbourhood. It was some of the best times in my “teenhood” but also rife with risky behaviours (shh. don’t tell my mom). This also made me think about whether I would, if I had kids, buy them a car when they turned 17. And so, here is my case for and against it: –
For: I no longer have to chauffeur them around.
16 years of changing their diaper, feeding and clothing them and driving them to this and that is servitude enough. Mummy’s got other things to do now.
Against: It is the key to bad behaviour.
Perhaps it’s different now with Uber/Grab and society being so connected via the phone and Internet. But I remember when learning to drive was the key to freedom. We went wherever, stayed out till whenever and even drinking whatever. I’d worry if my kids were up to what I was up to—Mummy knows better now.
For: It’s a huge expenditure.
There’s the cost of purchasing a new or used car and then all the subsequent maintenance, insurance, road tax and fuel costs. Mummy’s got other things she’d like to buy for herself.
Against: It teaches them about money.
This could be a real-world lesson on money management as kids enter adulthood. They can get a part-time job to finance the cost of buying and owning a car and learn that there are consequences if you don’t repay your loan on time or budget for fuel and maintenance expenses. Mummy’s not your personal ATM, understand?
For: They can rely on their own personal transport.
If they are out late at night or somewhere remote, they can hop into their own car, lock the doors and drive straight home. They don’t have to wait for the taxi or Uber/Grab at some dodgy roadside and then get into the vehicle driven by a stranger who is gawd-knows trustworthy or not. Mummy doesn’t want to stay up late waiting and worrying.
Against: Teens drive like they are invincible.
I may or may not be speaking from experience. Research also shows that young adults tend to drive faster and more recklessly and, therefore, get into more accidents. Mummy doesn’t want to have to pay to fix your car and your broken limbs or worse, your funeral.
The conclusion is it is best that I don’t actually have kids yet. In fact, with the way things are going—ie. the growth of ride- and car-sharing services, the development of autonomous cars and car ownership seemingly phasing out of trend—by the time my imaginary kids turn 17, this question would already become irrelevant.