“Can I Have the Car Tonight?” Chapter 10.1

Posted: April 11, 2013 in Uncategorized

There are three places I have been where I remember thinking, “Wow. Look at all these nice cars!” All three were high school parking lots.

In the church where I worked previously for 12 years, I can remember families agonizing with the decision of whether or not to get their child a car when he or she turned 16. They wanted them to know that driving was a privilege and not a right. They wanted them to have ownership in the expensive decision (beyond “this is what I want”). They wanted a car to be a response to actual need and not to desire. And teen driving is dangerous. Numbers I have read tell me that over 5,000 deaths and 400,000 injuries each year are a result of teens drivers age 16 to 20. They are four times as likely as any age group to get in an accident.

And yet the parents themselves felt incredible peer pressure. This is interesting to me because Tom and Ray Magliozzi, the brothers who host National Public Radio’s Car Talk, polled 5,000 listeners a couple of years ago on whether or not a 16-year-old should have his own car. Sixty-seven percent of those listeners answered with a resounding “no.” (Noted in The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Personal Finance in your 40s and 50s, p 70). A mention of the possibility of not buying a 16-year-old a car was met not with approval or understanding the reasonableness of the decision, but with incredulity and with a passionate defense of the virtues of buying one’s teen a car. And there are some good reasons…but solving that dilemma is not really the point of this post.

My kids were younger and so I watched with interest the families that struggled out loud with this issue. I believe that every single one purchased a vehicle for their child when they turned 16 and became part “believers.” And where I now live and work (for the past seven years), buying your child a car appears to be a fait accompli. I have not heard one parent vocalize the struggle. I am attuned to this struggle as my 4th child prepares to turn 16 and will do so without a car. Gone are the days when my dad and other parents told their offspring: “When you can afford the insurance and the upkeep, you have my permission to buy yourself a car.”

My point, oddly enough, is this. I think Eugene Peterson’s chapter title is dated. but his content is not. Do you agree?

This is long enough so (cliffhanger music) tune in next time to catch a post about his content in chapter 10.

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