For teenagers, cars mean freedom. For parents, cars mean fear. Most parents I speak with say they feel incredibly nervous about allowing their teenagers to drive, but they know it is an inevitable part of growing up. For teenagers, driving gives freedom and allows them to avoid having to rely on parents or car-pools for rides. On the other hand, teen driving can mean added costs with parking and gas as well as having to drive friends around. Parents have to deal not only with the added cost of a car, but they must also worry about what their teenager is doing with the newly found freedom.
Car Rule Suggestions:
1. Earn It
My parents made me wash their cars every weekend starting when I was 12 to start paying off the car I would get at 16. When I was 12, my brother and I every Saturday morning would thoroughly wash and vacuum both of the family cars and log it into our computer. We got $10 per car in the log, and this went towards the final payment for the car. I think this system was great because it made me work for the car I wanted. When I got it, I was very thankful and appreciative. Second, my parents did not have to wash the cars for a few years. Third, it taught us how to take care of our cars, and we stopped spilling food on the inside of our minivan because we knew we would be the ones who had to scrape it off on Saturday morning.
2. Ground Rules…in Advance
Before even considering buying your teen a car, lay out some ground rules. Many teenagers assume that as soon as they get a car and get their license to drive, they will have freedom from curfew, can go to whatever party they want, etc. Make sure your teen understands from the early teen years that if they continue to keep your trust, a car will bring some new freedoms, but these will not be a complete break from all previous rules.
3. Drive How You Want Them to Drive
If you do not want your child talking on the phone while driving, then don’t do it yourself. Drive the way you hope they will drive–always wear your seatbelt and try to make a point of being a cautious driver so that your kids can learn how to drive correctly.
4. Cut the Cost
There are a couple of ways you can lessen the financial burden of your teen’s driving:
- Ask insurance companies if they offer discounts for good grades.
- Ask insurance companies if they offer discounts for taking safety courses.
- When insuring family vehicles for your teen, put your teen on the vehicle that is less expensive to insure.
It can be scary when teens start to drive. I highly recommend starting talking to them about safety and costs early so everyone has the same expectations and they are safe drivers once they start.
Photo: by Hans Watson from Flickr