A pivotal moment for any teenager is the day they turn sixteen. They are finally able to get their driver’s license and have a sense of independence.
It also means that they’re not trapped in the house or reliant on you to drive them around. For many teenagers, the sense of accomplishment that comes along with being a licensed driver is one of the best feelings they’ve ever felt (for now, anyway). However, when it comes to your newly-licensed driver, how do you determine whether or not they’re ready for their own car.
When most of us were younger, we had to wait for our parents to return home from work before we were able to start begging to use the car, and in many instances, they still said no. However, recently, more parents are choosing to put their children into a car of their own. When the alarming statistic exists that nearly 250,000 teenagers, aged from sixteen to nineteen, are injured in car accidents per year, and over two thousand have lost their lives, we have to ask ourselves if they’re really ready for a vehicle of their own, or even if they’re ready to drive.
Signs Your Teenager is Ready for the Responsibility of a Car
There are certain signs and signals you can look for in your teenager to determine if they can handle the responsibility that comes along with owning a vehicle. You will also have to weigh whether or not it is a hassle for them to drive your car, or not. Chances are, it’s going to be a difficult decision no matter what you choose, as our first instinct is to be over-protective and shield them from any potential harm, but only you can make that decision. It’s up to you to not be swayed by their savvy begging tactics, though.
If you’ve reared your child for sixteen years, you should have a gauge on how responsible they are. If they can’t be trusted to take the garbage out or keep their room clean, they’re probably not going to be any more reliable when it comes to a vehicle. Consider every facet of their personality before giving in to the pull of making them mobile. While it can certainly be a hassle to run the risk of losing your only vehicle, don’t let that be your deciding factor.
Job and School
While this ties in pretty directly with the responsibility factor, if your child has an afterschool job that they need to get to, and you can’t take them, you may want to consider the purchase of a car for them. Also, if they’re involved in sports or other activities that will keep them late at school, having their own wheels would be safer than having them wait in the dark for you to pick them up, or worse, riding home with an unreliable friend.
If you want to make a child responsible for their own gas money, insurance costs, or car repair costs, you need to make sure they’re financially solvent enough to do so. If they’re not, guess who is on the hook for all of those things. Track your child’s spending habits for a couple of months while you’re making the decision. If they’re given an allowance, or they are bringing home a paycheck, see what they do with the money before making a decision. It will help dictate whether or not they’re ready for car ownership.
Response to Boundaries
If you’re going to buy your teenager a car, test the waters first. Ask them hypothetical questions about boundaries you plan to set for them. If they respond positively, you’ll know that they will, likely, be ready for the responsibility. If they huff and puff and storm off, they’re probably a little bit immature and it’s possible they shouldn’t even be driving.
Explain The Reality
If you’re willing to put a child behind the wheel, you need to explain some things to them. Be willing to spring for some driving lessons, so an objective party can teach them the rules of the road without losing their temper. At least then you’ll know they’ve been properly taught. However, you can also use this as a teaching moment, and explain to them the statistics associated with teenage drivers. If your child picks that moment to look at their phone or roll their eyes, they’re not ready. If they tell you that they understand and that they’re not going to be one of those statistics because they feel prepared, take it as a good sign.
Make the Right Decision for Your Teenager
It’s not going to be a pleasant discussion to have with your children once you make a decision. If you decide to buy them a car, they’ll likely not hear anything you have to say after the word car. If you don’t, they’ll threaten to hate you forever. Don’t let the idea of inconvenience or your child’s vehemence sway your decisions. Too many kids are losing their lives on the roads because they were ill-prepared for situations or just not responsible enough to be behind the wheel. Think long and hard, and remember that it’s not just their driving you’ll have to worry about.