• Lydia Chu

Should I buy my teenager a car?

I got my first car when I started my freshman year in college. I remember vivdly how I wanted a red Honda Prelude.


Me and my Honda

It was my dream car, but they were going for about $15,000 back in the 80's. My parents had set a limit and said I could only spend up to $10,000 and suggested that I get a Mustang. I had my heart set on the Honda, and I remember crying my eyes out because I wasn't going to get it. Sounds spoiled, doesn't it? (I hope my daughters don't read this story). Well, I got my wish and got my red Honda. My parents paid for the car, insurance and gas. Did I appreciate it? If I think about it, I don't think I did, at least not as much as I do now. I don't remember thanking them or feeling grateful at the time. I drove it until I graduated from college and abandoned the car when I went to live in Korea and never missed it. My parents end up selling it years later since I wasn't around to drive it.


When I was growing up, my parents expected all five of the children to help out with family business and in return, my parents paid for everything including new cars for all of the kids, insurance, gas and even college educations. Even though my parents did their best to teach us good work ethic and the value of hard work, I never really appreciated the things that were provided to me by my parents as much as I should have. Looking back, I felt like I was entitled to the things I had and never thought twice about how hard my parents had to work to pay for the things that I wanted. I think if I had to go out and get a job to pay for my own car, I think I would have appreciated it more and not have taken it for granted. Now that I'm a parent of two teenagers, I think about how difficult it must have been for my parents, and I'm so thankful for all their sacrifices.


On Monday, January 14, 2019, my younger daughter passed her driver's license test.

Not only that but she also got a call from Jamba Juice where she had applied for her first job two days earlier. She got the call while she was waiting to take her driver's test. She has been waiting for this day for months in anticipation of finally claiming her independance. Not only did she get her license but also landed a job which could help her buy a car that she always wanted. She was thrilled beyond words. For me, it was a day of proud moment, and I felt so lucky to be there to have witnessed it all.


Ever since my younger daughter turned sixteen four months ago, she's been looking for a job so she could buy a car once she had her license. I told both of my girls since they were very young that if they wanted a car, they would have to get a job and pay for it with their money. They were also going to be responsible for the insurance as well as gas. It's always been important for me to challenge my girls and teach them to be responsible and appreciate the privileges they have. So, when the time came, she went out looking for a job. Well, she soon found out that it wasn't that easy to find a job as a sixteen year old who doesn't have any job experience especially in a college town where most retailed jobs are given to college students. It was heartbreaking to see her submit one resume after another and not even get a phone call. She was getting pretty discouraged, and it was hard for me to watch her struggle.


Even though my daughter understood what I had expected of her, she persistently tried to convince me that I should help her pay for some of the expenses that come along with owning a car. I was told that none of her friend's had to pay for their car, insurance or even gas. We live in a town where a lot of the kids are very privilged so in my daughter's eyes, I was being unreasonable and cruel. Even though I tried to be strong and stand my grounds, it was becoming extremely difficult to make her understand my intentions. I was overcoming with feelings of guilt and inadequacy as a parent. I was torn between making her happy and teaching her the skills she'll need in life.


Well, she finally got her license and until she has enough money to get her own car, she has come up with a "brilliant" idea that she'll be borrowing her dad's car (my ex-husband) for the time being and paying for her own gas. On the first day she drove her dad's car to our house, she and her sister went out and cleaned the car. They were excited about having a car to drive to school and celebrating their independance. She'll be starting her first job at Jamba Juice in three weeks. Even though it's difficult for her right now to understand where I'm coming from, I hope the life lessons she'll be learning in this chapter of her life will serve her well in becoming a responsible, hard working adult. I hope she knows how much I love her and how proud I am of her accomplishments.


As I watched her get into the car to drive to school for the first time since getting her license, I can't help thinking about how much this is going to change her life as well as mine. I will miss the little girl who used to ask me for a ride, but I'm also looking forward to seeing the young, independant woman she will become. I can't help wonder if this is how my parents might have felt watching me drive away in my red Honda. I think I understand now and appreciate my parents for everything they have done for me especially for buying me that red Honda. Thank you mom and dad!



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