My twins recently turned 17. It's been more than a year since they turned the legal driving age and with that rite of passage comes the inevitable question: "When will we get cars?"
Notice the plural 'cars' and not a 'car' to share?
Most parents of teens are confronted with this hurdle once their children reach the driving age. Parents of twin teens have the added responsibility of deciding for two new drivers at the same time.
Earning a driver's license gives our teens a sense of accomplishment. Having their own car to drive and the freedom it provides, allows them make that huge leap from adolescent to adulthood.
But are they both ready for the responsibility of caring for a car?
There are 4 major factors to consider during the decision-making process:
1) The number one reason is the family budget. Automobiles are expensive, both the acquisition and the upkeep. Contemplating the cost of adding two cars to the bottom line would be overwhelming for most families. It has been my experience to begin researching the costs before the twins become eligible to drive. Shop around for the best priced vehicles. Honestly assess what you as the parent would be able to contribute to the cost and what the children realistically are able to contribute,
2) Are both siblings emotionally ready to handle the day-to-day responsibility of caring a car? As most parents know, car ownership goes way beyond putting the key in the ignition and driving. Can you trust both twins to keep up with regular maintenance checks and oil changes? How about keeping track of the amount of gas in the tank at all times? What about the cleanliness of the car? Will you constantly have to scold one or both to keep the car clean? If your twins aren’t able to handle the responsibility of the upkeep, maybe they’re not quite ready to handle the independence of driving.
3) Do both twins work? Would both kids be able to finance any portion of the upkeep, including monthly payments and insurance? This would need to be thoroughly discussed between parents and both siblings so that roles of responsibility would be clearly defined. Maybe you would be willing to pay the car note each month, but your teen would be responsible for insurance and fuel costs. Or, if one twin is deeply involved with extra-curricular activities at school and one isn't, will both kids have time to work to contribute to any costs? If so, then that would be a good foundation to build on. If not, then you may have a situation where resentment builds between the kids because of the perception that the responsibilities aren't being handled equitably.
4) Scheduling could be the deciding factor. Once teenagers reach high school, their schedules can become grueling. Juggling school attendance, work and extra-curricular activities can be taxing on an entire family. If there are one or two cars in the family and more than two people who have busy lives to tend to, having an extra car or two could greatly ease the burden.