Enabling Our Kids

My number one goal in life is to “Launch 4 enabled, well-adjusted young men into the world.”

During a recent gathering on our street I mentioned to a neighbor that we “helped” each of our kids get a car. He responded with, “We don’t want to spoil them, too much.” I agree with that 1,000%. We did this for 2 reasons:

  1. I know what I did to my Dad’s vehicles (sorry Dad) and there was NO WAY I was about to provide an opportunity for my kids to do the same to mine 🙂
  2. More importantly, we wanted to enable them, providing opportunities to learn and grow

First, how did we “help” them get a car. The deal was, the better the grades the more “help” they got. The result; each has a stake in the acquisition of their (used) car.

How does this enable them? It provides a TON of freedom. And, they have to feed and care for their car.  Not to mention the benefits that we as a family realize: we aren’t competing for the use of a vehicle or managing the complex logistics of each other’s comings and goings.

So, if they want to “maintain” their sense of freedom, they need to work a job and perform other simple time and financial management tasks, such as making sure they have:

  • Gas in the tank in advance of “rushing off” to school
  • Enough pocket change to pay the toll (soon realizing the benefits of getting their own EZ-Pass to simplify matters)
  • Enough funding in their checking account to pay for gas when they arrive at the pump, when EZ-Pass makes the withdrawal to replenish the account or the auto insurance company takes their monthly payment
  • Enough funding (in reserve) to pay for the unanticipated repair bill as well as the annual inspection and registration fees
  • Shoveled their car out of the snowbank (especially this year!) and still make it to school, work or Tae Kwon Do on time

And, when (not if) there are infractions or accidents (both of which cause insurance rates to go up) guess who pays? They do! On the flip side, upon demonstrating continued good grades they can realize a discount on auto insurance!

This (car ownership) also provides the opportunity to learn self-sufficiency and some basic “mechanics.” For example, when the car doesn’t pass inspection because of a bad taillight and cover, they learn where the nearest junkyard is, pay $12 for the part and install it themselves vs. paying the exorbitant fees at an auto service center (or worse, at a dealership).

Yes, the above are basics. The alternative is that we (parents) worry about/pay for these things for our kids, vs. providing them the opportunity to figure it out. Our opinion is that if they are old enough to drive they are old enough to be taking care of these things. And, finally, it significantly reduces the “sucking sound” coming from our bank account 🙂

The object of teaching a child is to help him get along without his teacher. ~ Elbert Hubbard

One might think: “Geez, if they have their own car and ONLY a part time job while going to school they must be working simply to keep their car on the road.” Wrong. These guys each have more cash in the bank (that they earned, and more importantly, saved) than some adults I know. A note for the young ladies in town 😉

If you’d like other ideas on how to raise enabled and well-adjusted kids, check out the recommended readings on this subject. And, feel free to reply with approaches you’ve used to accomplish the same.

4 thoughts on “Enabling Our Kids

  1. beaverfood says:

    You two certainly did more than a few things right, as you’ve raised 4 really great men!

  2. Marc says:

    So true. I think this generation of kids need more self stroking and help to figure out the big complex world. That is why, we as parents help them out more so than any other generation.

    • Craig Bailey says:

      Thanks Marc! It is better to “help them out” by learning these things while they are still “in the nest.” Because, upon leaving the nest they’ll have much bigger challenges to face and decisions to make. If they can address challenges and base decisions on an EARLY / solid foundation they are more apt to continue heading in the right direction.

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