Should we get difficult child a car?

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by AppleCori, Apr 19, 2013.

  1. AppleCori

    AppleCori Well-Known Member

    His dad and I were talking last night about difficult child and his situation and dad wondered if we should get him a car. difficult child is a new father of a one-month-old and just got a job last week at a place about 10 miles from where he lives with his mom. He can take the bus to work but the busses have stopped running by the time he gets off of work.

    Now, he hasn't asked his dad for a car or anything else. In fact, he barely speaks to us. In the last year he has initiated contact only occasionally, and only when he needs something (he hasn't asked for very much: rides home from job he had last fall, borrow the truck to move when he claimed he and girlfriend were getting an apartment which never ended up happening, etc.). Even when the contact ends on a friendly note (with never a thanks of course) the next time dad sees him, when he goes to get 17yo at their mom's house, difficult child will ignore him and only grudgingly answer questions, if at all. He even did this a couple of weeks ago when dad and his dad's best buddy went to get 17yo and difficult child was sitting outside smoking. And this is the guy that difficult child put down as a reference to get this job he has, and difficult child wouldn't even be nice to the guy!

    Pros of getting him a cheap car are:
    No excuse that he can't get to work for lack of transportation
    Could give him the boost he needs toward adulthood
    difficult child's girlfriend has no car either, she lives with her parents who only have one car, and not a very reliable one, so it could be needed in an emergency

    Cons of getting him a cheap car are:
    If we just offer a car to him, it may fuel his sense of entitlement or his belief that things just appear when you need them without working for them or planning for them, even if that effort is nothing more than asking dad for help. (This will, in his mind, absolve difficult child of responsibility for the car because if he didn't ask for it, why should he be liable for it or anything to do with it? Yeah, been there done that with him!)

    He may not keep it insured or keep up maintenence.

    He may use it to run around, spend money he doesn't have, buy or sell drugs and get himself fired from yet another job anyway.

    It could end up causing us lots of grief like the last car did: one year ago when difficult child left here/got kicked out, dad had difficult child's old junker car fixed and took it to him so that he could get to school and work. The car broke down soon after and difficult child just left it. Mom finally found out and called dad to let him know where it was. We went and got it. Dad told difficult child he would need to go with him and have the title transfered into his (difficult child) name and get it insured himself since he was so irresponsible with it and dad didn't want the liability if it was left somewhere and towed or something. difficult child refused and said he never wanted the car anyway. difficult child mom didn't want it either. Then a few weeks later, he decided he wanted it after all, but we had gotten rid of it. So dad feels a bit guilty.

    Will probably cause friction because then 17yo (and his mom!) will feel that dad should buy him a car since this would be difficult child's second car from dad. (Mom had gotten $ from dad to buy 17yo a car a year ago, and she got one from a 'friend of a friend' which sat in front of her house for months till she got it licenced/insured and then the first time they started it up after that, it caught on fire.) That may mean we would have to buy two cars, and bolster 17yo's sense of entitlement because he has been told by dad that he would need to get a job to help pay for his car/gas/insurance and he refuses to even consider that. (he's a easy child only by comparison to his bro)

    difficult child/17yo's mom would expect dad to pay for 17yo's gas/insurance/maintenance/repairs, and probably difficult child's too. She would like 17yo to get a job, too, but it is much easier to get dad to pay for things than get 17yo to do it. This would give her lots of excuses to argue with dad. She has stated in no uncertain terms that she will have nothing more to do with the boys' car problems. She won't even insure 17yo under her policy, though he is a licensed minor in her home. She doesn't allow him to drive her car. Nor does difficult child drive her car, for that matter, under any circumstances.

    Didn't mean for this to get so long! This is turning out to be more complicated than I thought!

    Any advice/alternative solutions/words of wisdom?

  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I don't buy cars for any of my kids anymore. So I wouldn't. Soon he'll be asking for insurance, gas money, etc. It won't make him responsible. If it's in your name, then if he has an accident, you are liable. No car ever made a difficult child into a easy child, child or not. PCs work even if they need to walk or take the bus. Does he drink a lot or use drugs? Another something to think about...will he drive sober? Do you really think it will make things better for him and that he will use it responsibily?

    We do try, don't we? We bought drug using daughter a car. She had cracked it up within a few months. That taught us a lesson.

    Good luck, whatever you decide.
  3. AppleCori

    AppleCori Well-Known Member

    Thanks for your reply, Midwest.

    No, I can't guarantee that he would only drive sober. He says he is off drugs, but he has made that claim many times in the past, and whether he was temporarily off drugs or not, he always seems to go back to them. Especially when he gets a pay check. As far as alcohol, he says he doesn't drink, but his bro found a big, empty bottle in difficult child's room not too long ago.

    Are you going to help your teens get cars?

    I am asking because of the 17yo. He will be going to college in a year, yet seems to have no plans for getting a car (living at his mom's and going to community college is the plan right now). Or is this something I should let him figure out for himself?

    This is so different for me because my three adult kids were/are super easy child over-acheivers who took responsibility for their lives and planned accordingly.
  4. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member

    husband and I made the pact that if the child comes to us with a plan and a beginning amount, we will help with whatever it is.

    If the child (your difficult child in this case) hasn't done the groundwork, hasn't figured out how to pay for license, insurance, and gas (even if that plan involves borrowing money from you ~ at least the child is thinking in a responsible manner), then no.

    You could present it to him as something you are willing to help with, once he has the basics covered and a plan figured out.

  5. nerfherder

    nerfherder Active Member

    I lean with the other parents: I was going to use only the need for insurance as a big reason not to do so, but all the caveats you and the others list to me far, far outweigh the pros.

    And not to be horribly negative, or even a Jewish Mother, :) but even if it's in his name, he's paying insurance, you have no legal responsibilities or connections to the vehicle, how would you feel if someone was injured as a consequence? (shudder) I say don't do it.
  6. Tiredof33

    Tiredof33 Active Member

    I helped both of my children get cars to drive to work etc. My easy child turn difficult child turnback to easy child daughter always worked paid for the car, insurance etc. I did end up paying for 1 car during her difficult child stage and that was the last time I cosigned for her.

    My always a difficult child son, I had the same thoughts you did, it would help him to get more confidence in himself, help him to work, etc. NEVER DID!!!! It was always a hugh pain in the butt with him, and as was mentioned, I worried that he would be driving drunk or stoned and hurt an innocent person.

    This is the same difficult child that I would not sign to get his drivers license either for the same reasons. I had actually thought, since he was 18, that he would begin to mature.

    The last straw as when he had a flat tire at the fast food he worked at and he left it there for weeks. It was towed and they wanted $$$ to get it back. Furious, I said no.

    I have learned from experience, if you can't afford to make the payments (even for a young easy child) and you don't mind making the payments, don't cosign. Young adults (even some pcs) seem to think they don't have to pay parents back.

    My difficult child son has asked me so many times to cosign things for him over the years and in each case something happened, never his fault of course, that I would have paid all of the loans myself. Even after years of me saying no, he still tries!!

    On a funny note: my difficult child son that has 3 felonies on his record was sent to court ordered rehab twice has 'safe driver' on his license. How in the world I don't know lol!!!!
  7. Dixies_fire

    Dixies_fire Member

    I vote no. Several reasons
    If he won't help pay for it he doesn't need it.
    He's not being polite to you guys now a car won't change that but you might feel like he should be more polite
    He has his shot with a car and he blew it
    It will not look fair to the 17yo if you choose to so that
    And as for 17 yo
    I would only do it, after he went to college and realized "oh **** I need a job" just to say you gave him the same chance you gave difficult child.
    And I would cover insurance liability only if the car is paid for as long as he is in school if he drops cut off the insurance.

    I'm sure you have reasons for hostility towards their mom but I would not fault her for not letting them use her car as she has to deal with their difficult child mess in her way.

    I wouldn't let my difficult child sister drive my car to the store last time I saw her and she is 8 years older then me.
  8. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Never helped Cory get a car. Jamie did over our protests. Jamie pawned off an Explorer that had major issues onto Cory when Cory didnt even have a license but he was supposed to pay him for the stupid thing. He paid a couple of payments but then we figured out we couldnt get the problems fixed here either. Jamie was wrong to do that. Dang car ended up impounded and I ended up paying Jamie off for the car just to pay off his loan.

    I never bought Jamie a car but when he went into the Marines and after he got married, we had an extra car so we gave him and his new wife one of our very very used old cars that had been handed down to us from my dad. It was an old boat of a Buick which I figured would be a safe car.

    Billy bought his first car for $400 and it was an old clunker which was good since he got in his first accident not long after he got it, got stuck in two ditches and then got stuck in a muddy
  9. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I have not read all the responses. My answer? NO. Not just NO but HECK NO!

    He can call you for a ride but not be civil to you or expend enough energy to say 'Hi" even in a monotone mumble when you walk up to him? And you want to give him a CAR?

    Do you see how strange your thoughts are on this topic? he has not asked you for a car. He did not take care of the one you gave him in the past. He has not saved up any portion of the money needed to purchase the car. His treatment of you is so bad that he wont' even tell your spouse hello in a halfway human way, much less a civil or polite way, and you still have it occur to you that he needs a car and you should put your hard earned money toward getting one for him?

    Please take the money you would spend on a vehicle for him and use ti for therapy to help with enabling behavior and codependence. I am NOT being snarky here. There is a real disconnect in your thought process and it would best be helped by a professional. I truly hope you can see how strange your thoughts on this are and how wrong they are. They will NOT help him grow up and be the father he needs to be. I know you want to make his life better so that he can be a good dad, It is too late for that. He has to learn this all on his own because he has pushed you and his father away time and again.

    It is wrong to give him a car right now. Totally wrong. He has to start to earn what he needs and not depend on it being given to him without him doing a single thing for it. He does not respect you or his dad and he will never respect anything you give to him. He can get a bike and ride the ten miles, or take the bus, or walk or get a friend to drive him. He has pushed away and/or spat on your attempts to help him and he needs to live with the consequences of that.
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2013
  10. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member

    Oh. Great point, Susiestar.

  11. Apple - Here's my 2 cents.

    We took difficult child to get his learner's permit when he turned 16 and started teaching him to drive. We were set to get him driver training lessons but his behaviour didn't warrant that so we put it on hold. difficult child knew he had a car (an older Toyota Corolla) just waiting for him when he got his drivers license. We were going to put the car in his name and help him pay for insurance. We have never even gotten close to that. His behaviour still doesn't even warrant us paying for driver training lessons so he's never going to pass his license test. The actual license test is already paid for at the motor vehicle office but......

    We are now going to sell that car.

    easy child will have a car waiting for her when she gets old enough to drive (another 3 years). If her behaviour warrants it. IE. She must have a part time job, she must be respectful to husband and I, she must go to school and put in her best effort to get good grades, she must participate in our family (help around the house a bit, enjoy family dinners together). She will get my Toyota Prius and it will be put in her name. We will help with insurance but she will have to pay for her own gas - you drive, you pay. If she has an accident it'll be on her insurance record, not mine. I don't want any liability for her actions. Even easy child's make mistakes.

    There are some big red flags with your difficult child.
    1. He has already shown he has been irresponsible with a vehicle in the past.
    2. He has no respect for you or your husband.
    3. His own mother won't let him drive her vehicle, nor will she let 17yr old drive her vehicle. I'd be asking myself why.

    If I was going to do anything to help difficult child out it would be to buy him a bicycle. He can ride it to work and back every day, save his own busfare and put that towards a vehicle. If he held down the job, was respectful to you and husband and saved his bus fare and any other spare money he had then I would help him buy a vehicle.

    As for difficult child 17 - I'd help him with a vehicle if he could show me he was doing well in school, was respectful and was holding down a part time job as well. And the car would be in his name.
  12. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    wtw....very good reply! I have to admit that I did buy Cory a scooter but it was with his money. He just doesnt realize it was with his money. They are a good in between choice. He can get around but not in a car.

    I also was one who said I wouldnt have anything to do with getting licenses unless they did certain things and none of them followed my requirements. Oh well.
  13. AppleCori

    AppleCori Well-Known Member

    Thanks for all the replies. Lots of good points made, and I want to address them in no particular order:

    First, the bike or scooter idea: Last summer we gave him a bike that we had so he could get back and forth to work after he started calling regularly for rides home. He didn't want it, said he would just loose it, and he did, in short order. Lost, stolen, abandoned, loaned, pawned, I don't know which.

    I'm not blaming the mom for not letting difficult child drive her car at all! Just put that out as info. I wouldn't let him drive mine either! He drove his dad's vehicles a lot when he lived here and didn't take care of them at all. Trashed would be a good description.

    I wrote that mom won't let 17yo drive her car and that he is not on her insurance to point out that (in my con list) if we got difficult child a car, 17yo would expect to get a car also, and mom would not help out with gas, insurance, maintenance, repairs. Not that I blame her for that, either, just giving info so you would know that all those things would be on us,
    which we are not willing to provide. Which brings me to my next point:

    17yo won't get a job. He needs to get a job if he wants a car. The reason dad would consider helping him get a car is that his mom bought a house out of the school district and he has to wait at school till mom gets off work to get a ride home. He could get a ride here after school easily with a buddy, which he used to do, but then mom cut that off because she didn't want to pick him up from here. It is actually more convienient for her to pick him up from here than from the school, but she decided that she shouldn't let us see him 'for free' without having to do any driving and it wasn't her job to facilitate him visiting his dad. We do have him here and drive him home some, but not every school day. So, a car would be a good solution, but I guess 17yo doesn't want it bad enough to work for it.

    We wouldn't co-sign or make payments on a car but would pay cash for a used one. However, difficult child would probably not treat it any better than the bike or previous vehicles he has had access to. And like many of the difficult child car stories on this thread, it would be an ongoing problem for us in one way or another.

    Yes, it is a crazy thought, to even consider giving difficult child a car! We wouldn't have even thought about it if not for the grandchild. And the (misplaced) guilt dad feels sometimes.

    But then the thought of facilitating a drug-addicted difficult child to get behind the wheel wipes that guilt away.

    I liked what someone said about no car ever making a difficult child into a easy child. So true!

    No, we will not be giving difficult child a car or anything else. At least not until he demonstrates that he has changed.

    Thanks for all your advice!
  14. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    So glad to hear you've decided not to get difficult child a car. When I first saw the subject line, my answer was "No!" without even reading any of the other responses.