Family Ties: Teen Wants Car from Ex
Co-Parenting: Ex-Husband Wants to Buy Son Car, but Mom Says No Way
Q: My ex-husband and I have joint custody of our soon-to-be sixteen-year-old son, Jason. I recently learned that my ex-spouse plans to buy Jason a car when he turns sixteen and gets his license. I am very concerned about this. Jason has not demonstrated good judgment and does not have the maturity to be a safe driver, in my view. What can I do about this situation?
A: Unfortunately, there may not be anything you can do to stop your ex-husband from buying your son a car. What you can do, however, is share your concerns with him. Are there specific examples of poor judgment or lack of maturity that you can share with your ex to substantiate your concern about Jason’s readiness for a car? If so, can you share those examples without betraying Jason’s trust in you?
You might also consider sharing some resources with your ex-husband about teen driving safety. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a Fact Sheet on Teen Drivers” on their website (www.cdc.gov). This resource emphasizes that motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens. It further informs that the risk of motor vehicle crashes is higher among 16 to 19-year-olds than among any other age group.
The crash risk is particularly high during the first year that teens are eligible to drive. Teen males have a higher vehicle death rate compared with that of teen females. The National Safety Council also has some useful information on their website (www.nsc.org), including a Family Guide to Teen Driving.” According to this resource, teenagers driving at night with passengers are four to five times more likely to crash than teenagers driving alone during the day. One approach with your ex might be to share these informational resources with him and ask to discuss the information after he has read it to see how it might apply to Jason.
Before sharing your own concerns and ideas about Jason driving a car, ask your ex if he has any concerns and any ideas about how to reduce Jason’s risk of being in a car accident. If he does not, you could make reference to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Safety Council information that suggests ways to reduce teen driving risk. For example, you could ask your ex if he would agree to establish some rules about Jason’s driving such as no driving after dark, and no driving with teenage passengers in the car. You could also suggest that Jason is required to successfully complete a driver’s education program.
Finally, you and your ex could discuss ways in which having a car could induce your son to be more responsible. For example, Jason’s access to a car could be contingent on his keeping a minimum grade point average in school.