Getting a car without earning it
Last week, I announced we were selling our 1997 Pontiac Grand Am to a relative. Well on Friday evening, we battled traffic for 4.5 hours to get to Pennsylvania (normally takes under 3.5 hours) in 2 vehicles to get to Stacie’s parent’s house.
The following morning, we dropped the car off at the notary and stopped at her relative’s house to pick up the check for $1,800. We stayed a little longer to have a chat with the parents while their daughter was sleeping (till noon as usual). If you recall, they bought the car for their 18-year-old, college-bound daughter.
Earning vs Gifting a Car to Your Child
We were a bit upset going up to PA this weekend because we learned that they were planning on keeping “Greenie” (the car) for just a year and then trading it in on something “better” for their daughter. We were under the assumption that she would drive this car into the ground, as it probably has another 50k miles left on it. While chatting, I brought this up (I didn’t mention our distress at the idea) and the dad suggested it was just a thought, but it depended on how well the car ran after her freshman year. They totally expect her to trash the car in the next year. Based on what she’s done to her mom’s car, it’s a valid expectation.
However, the problem that I saw in all of this is that the daughter didn’t earn any of it. But in their eyes, she earned it all just by being in existence. You see, this couple tried hard to have a kid for a long time. Eventually they had “Em” while in their forties. Because they finally had a daughter, they were just so happy that they spoiled her rotten.
“Em” doesn’t have a job, although she does hand-craft some clothing for a certain band she likes and sells them on eBay for a small profit (maybe enough for gas money). She seems like a very respectful daughter, although her parents told us she doesn’t respect property. She doesn’t take care of her stuff, nor their stuff (like their car), and they can’t understand why. Hmm, I wonder.
But the big question here is should “Em” have earned the car by working, or was her parent’s gift justified? They’re also paying for her college education, housing, food, etc. and not expecting her to work at all while in college. Is this the right way to teach her the value of earning a dollar? Do you think there’s a better way to get her to appreciate material stuff?