Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Can't buy me love...but you can buy me a new car

My son recently turned 14 which means he is just a very short time away from him being car eligible. My first car was a 1974 Pontiac Ventura that I paid $400 for and then had painted a beautiful metallic blue. (see picture). Really it was a piece of junk and given my non-existent mechanical skills I was certainly no help to make it better but the car did do the job to get me from A to B. The good news also was that it was so bad I did not have to worry about spending extra gas to drive friends around.

Now with the son just a couple of years from car age the dilemma of how to handle this is very much on the family radar. A car payment, $3.50+ a gallon gas and outrageous car insurance has the potential to be a tremendous burden especially with college tuition on the way soon too.

Just the other day I saw a picture of a friend of mine’s daughter standing next to a beautiful brand new Dodge Charger and it got me to thinking about the pros and cons of how a car at 16 is handled by parents. Our son knows and has known for years there is no chance he will get a new car at 16. It is not economically viable for us even if we want to do so and if it can’t be paid for in cash it is out of the question.

I posted a question about this topic on Twitter recently to get some feedback. “Is it wrong to get a new car for a kid on 16th Bday? What do you think?"

Here are some of the responses:

@signs2uOK It’s not wrong if you are trying to compensate for not having a relationship with them, otherwise YES

@megancox I got a new car. Not on my 16th but after & yes my parents now seem crazy for doing that.We lived far outside of town so me having a car helped with driving to practices but I don’t think a new car was wise. I never wrecked though. Ha!

@okcblueyes I think it is wrong in so many ways

@Donaldohse Very wrong. Kid will just abuse it cause they don’t know what it is worth

@sparrowApril for sure, they won’t appreciate if start with a new car. My 1st car 2 years younger than me, 2nd care 2 years older w/AC

@tkmuskrat yup. I won’t be doing that for my kids and I got a beater for my first car. LOL

@ScouterKWC we did what our parents did. Get a part time job, pay for it yourself. They learn a lot of valuable life lessons that way.

@nf8m no one-size-fits-all but in general, what’s given isn’t valued as much as what is earned

@okcholloway huge waste of money. Sign of trying to buy happiness for your child to me. They won’t appreciate it as much as having to work for it.

@okcscouterhurtt a kid’s first car should be at least as old as his or her parent

@cgorshing so much wrongness—don’t know where to start

@_nichole My parents wanted us to have cars…made their lives easier. Not nice cars but safe affordable cars. That being said…I didn’t get a car until I had a parking spot at school which was 6 months later.

This is a great parenting topic for sure. I had a clunker but I also had friends with brand new cars. My concerns with a new car are twofold. Will a 16 appreciate the actual value of the car if she or he had little or no effort to obtain it? Are parents creating an additional family debt burden through the purchase when perhaps the money should be funneled to retirement, debt reduction or college?

Every family has a different point of personal reference when it comes to this topic and of course individual economic situations also play a factor as well as the maturity of the teen.

So….What are your thoughts? Is it wrong to get a new car for a kid on 16th Bday? What do you think?

What parameters do you think parents should set to determine teen car ownership?

Leave a comment here and share your opinion. I would love to see a bit of pro/con debate and I know others will learn from what you have to say.

Friday, August 19, 2011

A letter to Conner

Yesterday was the first day of high school for Conner and he turns 14 today. It just amazes me to think that we are now parents of high school kid. It really seems like yesterday when Michelle and I were changing diapers and taking turns with late night feedings. Now we take turns as a shuttle service from activity to activity and the late night feedings are more along the lines of trips to Peachwave. We know that soon even that will end with a car or at least buddies with cars.

Our journey through parenthood has been an incredible one and we honestly could not have asked for a better child. God has truly blessed our family.

Son—These next few years are going to be an amazing time for you. Our prayer as your mom and dad is that you will live a life of boldness. A life founded on a steadfast belief in Christ, in yourself, in serving others, in hard work, in education and in personal honor.

You will question who you are and you will be faced with many pressures you have not experienced before these next several years. I know there will be times when you will have doubts. I know there will be times when your heart will break. I know there will be times when you will fail. This is all okay and is to be expected.

I also know that God has an incredible plan for you that he decided well before the earth even formed. Now is the start of your time! It is your chance to fully step out into the man you want to be. The kind of man that does what is right even when it may hurt and the kind of man that has respect for others even when they may seem so different from you. You can be bold by not being afraid to take risks and by choosing your own path. We challenge you to be a positive influence on the world around you and always strive to give your best everyday.

No matter what these years bring you can count on the fact that your God and your family will be here for you through thick and thin.

We are proud to be your parents and are thankful for the joy you bring to our lives.

Love—Mom & Dad

Sunday, August 7, 2011



This week Oklahoma lost four of our sons in Afgahnistan. No I did not know any of these soldiers but looking at their pictures in the paper in uniform next to the American flag I became overwhelmed with a real sense of sadness. Sadness for the families forever changed and in a way for our country in general.

While these incredible men and women are giving their lives for us daily we sit in our comfortable little worlds mostly oblivious. Meanwhile our "representatives" swap our futures away in exchange for petty self interest on both sides.

It seems the majority of us have never lived the word. We don't know what it means to forget the self and feel some real personal pain for the other.

I used to think I knew sacrifice. I live below my means, I give my time as a volunteer and give a buck or two now and then. In reality though I have sacrificed little in my life and I bet most of you ride that same bus with me.

Together let's:
Put away the credit card and stick some cash in the bank
Put down the phone and see what it like to be fully present with another
Turn off the TV and step into the community to serve
Give of ourselves with no regard to personal comfort
Put aside petty politics and make the hard decisions

This list could go on and on. The bottom line there is more to be done.

Thank you Sgt Anthony Del Mar Peterson, Staff Sgt. Kirk Avery Ownen, 2nd Lt. Jared Ewy and SPC Augustus J. Vicari for giving the ultimate sacrifice for something you believed in and for us. May we be in even the slightest bit worthy of what you have done so that we can be free.