My wife thinks we should buy our son a car and I say no. Here is the story: We did promise our son that we could get him a car when he started college. But six months ago he was driving his mother’s car, going 60 mph in a 40-mph zone. While turning he lost control and crashed into another car. His girlfriend needed surgery, and the driver of the other car went into a coma and almost died. My son got his license back, but I don’t think he is responsible enough to drive. Going 60 in a 40 zone and not slowing down while turning sounds very immature. Should we get him the car?
Let’s begin by talking about the word “promise.” Good parents make only a limited number of promises, then try very hard to keep them. But precious few promises come without conditions. Suppose your boss promised you a promotion, then caught you dipping in the till. Is he morally obligated to promote you anyway? Few people would criticize the boss from backing away from that promise.
As such, your promise to your son does not constitute a guarantee. He demonstrated foolishness, and if you do not consider the boy mature enough to drive, then you cannot in good conscience purchase a car for him.
However … the fact that your son acted stupidly six months ago and almost killed a man does not necessarily warrant a prolonged restriction from driving. Ask yourself a few questions:
• Has your son shown remorse? Does he feel bad about what happened, and has he mentioned any plans to change his ways?
• Did your son accept responsibility for his actions? Does he think he got a raw deal, or has he acknowledged that the accident was his fault?
• Does your son still expect a new car? A mature individual would probably assume that after causing an accident and totaling his mother’s vehicle, no new car is forthcoming.
• If he has driven since the accident, has he exercised more restraint?
• Why did your son lose his license? Drivers rarely lose their license for speeding, even when an accident causes injuries. Was he under the influence or driving distracted? De he serve jail time? The more aggravating factors contributed to the initial accident, the more cautious you should be about buying your son a car.
• How old is your son? If he is old enough to have a job, has he offered to defray the cost of the car he wrecked? If he behaves maturely with his money, perhaps he will behave more maturely with his next car.
• Have you seen signs of increased maturity? While such lessons are painful, an experience like your son’s will often teach a person to be more circumspect.
We all suffer from lapses in judgment. Many of us (possibly most) have made mistakes like your son’s as inexperienced drivers, but were lucky enough to avoid an accident. In this case, the aftermath was tragic. But you should not hold your son hostage to his past forever.
That said, you are no longer obligated to buy your son a car. And if you are uncomfortable with the purchase, I suggest you don’t make that purchase.
I was at a flea market today. At one of the stands I saw a dad, mom, and daughter who looked 16 or 17. She was wearing a black tank top and short shorts. Why do parents allow their daughters to dress like that in the open?
We live in a world where 80-year-olds wear halter tops and many parents desperately try to push their young children into modeling careers to boost household income. Decorum is in shorter and shorter supply.
There was a time when most parents would not have allowed a teen-age daughter to wear short shorts in public, and if they had, other people would have exhibited palpable disapproval. These days, few people think twice about such clothing choices.
The answer to your question is simple: Societal standards have changed, and most parents no longer consider such revealing clothes inappropriate.
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