As my daughter prepares to get her driver’s license, we’ve had a few amusing conversations around the dinner table.

The big joke is…will she drive my mini-van or my husband’s Honda CRV when she finally earns the privilege of being behind the wheel?

But, part of me thinks she was serious when she asked, “Will I get a new car?” I guess I can’t blame her. On TV, and in the movies, there’s always that scene where the Sweet Sixteen birthday girl walks out to a new red convertible.

I guess I’m just a little surprised that so many teens have this expectation that they will receive…or dare I say deserve…their own car once they get their license. That ugly word “entitlement” creeps into my vernacular. At local high schools, I am continually shocked at the high-end vehicles some teenagers are driving.


Don’t worry, she’s just pretending. Little sis along for the “ride.”

Well, I can guarantee that my daughter won’t be driving around in her own Mercedes any day soon. But the question remains…should we buy her a car?

Owning your own car is a great way to teach some of those “real world” responsibilities. Earning money to pay for gas, repairs and insurance seems like a sound way to teach some life skills. We could get her a cute little used car, just perfect for driving back and forth to school and activities. She may need some guidance on oil changes and winter tires, but hey, what better way to learn than under the watchful eye of her Dad? I’m not gonna lie…having an extra driver in the house (with her own car) could really help me out a lot.

But, then again, what’s wrong with driving the family vehicle? Is my mini-van really that awful?? Why wouldn’t she want to drive her friends to the football game in the Mom-mobile?

In my husband’s family of five kids, the oldest brother would drive the family station wagon on a Friday night and drop all the siblings where they needed to go so he could have the vehicle for a “date” night. Then, he’d have to drive all over town to pick them all up at the end of the night. It’s a running joke in their family that the oldest brother must have had the shortest dates in history!

I guess you can call me “old school,” but it just seems that buying a vehicle is something a teen should work and save up for. And, what about asking them to demonstrate a safe driving record, for at least a year or so, before we rush to put them in their own shiny new automobile?

 I still remember buying my first car…I think I was 24?  I had been working full-time for a couple of years and felt so proud when I drove my mint green Toyota Tercel off the lot. I wouldn’t want to rob my daughter of that feeling, would I??

What do you think? For a teenager, is owning their own car a rite of passage or just an unnecessary luxury?


Author Michelle

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Join the discussion 5 Comments

  • I think a car is something they should work and save for! Yes they can drive whatever family car is available, and if driving for pleasure, plan to put in some gas 🙂

    • Michelle says:

      Yes, pay for the gas at the very least. Even better if they have a job and can save up and pay for the car and all expenses. Do you remember buying your first car?

  • Jen says:

    I am so far from this stage in life, but I know part of the reason I got a car when I was 16 was to help my parents out. I then was responsible for shuttling my little sister around. I didn’t mind because I loved driving. As a mom of three I can see us doing the same when my oldest turns 16.

    But unlike my parents I think their should be some responsibility like paying for gas and/or insurance.

    Great post Michelle!

  • Anonymous says:

    I don’t think it hurts kids to long for something for awhile before they get it. We’ve given them everything at earlier and earlier ages to the point where they expect things and may therefore have less appreciation for them. It won’t kill any teenager to drive the mom-mobile around for awhile and at least get them closer to college before getting them a vehicle of their own. Just my two-cents.

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