We all wanted it. A sweet 16 party with our friends, our frenemies, boys, girls and a brand new car with a giant red ribbon on the hood and maybe even a fancy key chain. We all wanted a new car for our 16th birthday and when we’re busy living our childhood dreams through our children (I’m guilty of it) we give them the gifts we wanted most.
If you want your child to have ownership of a car (as opposed to sharing a family vehicle) buy it for them when they turn 15 1/2 and start taking driving lessons. It’s a documented fact that the risk of teen accidents is highest in the first month of driving, drops precipitously thereafter and then again by half a year later.
When I think car accident I think financial loss and goodness knows that there’s enough expense involved in raising kids that I don’t need an accident to add to it the bottom line. Unfortunately with some car accidents come loss of life and limb and that motivates me to search for safety in abundance.
Rental cars are full of bumper dings because parking an unfamiliar vehicle is more difficult than one you’ve had practice on. How many of us have bought a new car only to find ourselves in a fender bender the first month? Why do that to a kid? Do you want to spend six months or more teaching your child to drive in one car only to toss them keys to a new and unfamiliar one on a milestone birthday while you wave goodbye for the first time and hope that they get it right? Do we need research studies to tell us that’s a bad plan?
If your dream still includes the bow and the presentation maybe have the car detailed for the sweet sixteen? Perhaps have a fake Sweet Sixteen at 15 and a half? Whatever you do with kids and cars, set them up for success. Success includes hundreds of hours and thousands of miles behind the wheel with you, the parent, in the passenger seat providing feedback, encouragement and safety tips.
Photo credit Billy Wilson via creative commons