I've been faced with that this week.
Kyndal is going to be sixteen in November. She has always been told that she will not get a car given to her, but that she would have to have a job and earn money to buy one and pay the insurance and for her own gas. A couple of years ago Rick told her that he would match any amount of money she was able to save. Long story short .. she hasn't saved any. It's hard to get a job around here unless you are sixteen, but there are jobs. Unfortunately, those aren't the jobs she wants.
Anyway, two nights ago she went to dinner for her friend's sixteenth birthday. They did the 'ol "surprise her with a car" gig. Kyndal was happy for her friend, but the reality of the situation that she will not receive the same type of gift hit her hard.
I think she has always thought we were "just kidding", like her friend's parents were pretending to do.
She realizes we are not. And she is disappointed.
Would I love to surprise her with a car for her sixteenth birthday? What parent wouldn't??
But, I know that by doing that, I would be making a huge mistake. Kyndal would be learning, yet again, that the world owes her something .. that she is entitled.
I want Kyndal to learn the life lesson that to get what we want, we have to work hard and save for it.
She mentioned that her dad might buy her a car and let her make payments on it to him.
But, again, I don't want her to do that. I don't want her to learn the life lesson of how to go into debt to get what you want now!
The discussion I had with her yesterday is that she will have to learn this lesson in her life, at some time or another. I would rather her learn it now, than to learn it the hard way later in life when the stakes are really high. I'd rather her not be $25,000 in credit card debt with a car payment and student loans when she learns it.
Isn't that what real parenting is about? Aren't we here to help our kids weather the pre-storms of life so they don't get demolished with an unexpected tornado later?
Did you get a car when you were sixteen? I did. Actually I got it about a year or more before I turned sixteen. But I had cleaned office buildings with my mom (including a public restroom at a city building ... yuck) and had run the public swimming pool concession stand to make some money. I think I had saved about $600. For my effort, my parents gave me $1000 to go with it. I bought a rusted, green 1977 208Z.
Then the summer before my birthday I had to go to the baseball fields with my dad every afternoon in the blistering sun and pick up candy trash (he managed the ball fields) so that I could get a new paint job for my car. Then after I turned sixteen I waited tables at my grandma's restaurant to pay for my insurance and gas.
My car was like this, Porsche Red after the paint job, oh yeah! I had the black bra, black louvre, fuzzy dice on the rear view mirror and a carpet dash (to cover the big rip in it) with my name embroidered. Sweet!
None of those jobs were fun, by the way. But I wanted a car, so I had to work for the money. All of my friends who had cars given to them wrecked them shortly thereafter, and then got them replaced with new cars again.
Kyndal is just not "getting it" and it is frustrating, for both her and me.
I hate to see her upset and disappointed. There have been lots of teardrops resting on big, beautiful eyelashes this week. But, I would hate for her to learn a bad lesson even more. So, I am willing to be the bad guy to help keep her from doing that.