A little brutal honesty, please?

Hello Everyone!
I’ve been a bit of a lurker (okay, I’ve never been anything but a lurker) but I finally decided to get off my ass and post because I need a little honest feedback. So if anyone feels inclined, let me know what you think.
I’m a senior in high school. I moved to a new state last year, and until the end of 11th grade (when I moved) I had always been in private school. My parents agreed that if I went to public school after the move I could get a car. I got a car, and I scheduled my classes for the end of this year (February to June) so that they end at 11:17 in the morning. To be nice, when I did not get out early I would let my dad drive the car, since he got it for me anyway. While he borrowed the car, he never picked me up from the bus stop and it broke while in his possession. Since he was driving it when it broke, I figured that he would fix it. He didn’t, I couldn’t afford to pay the bill and my parents would not help me. My dad went back to driving his own car, my car rotted in the driveway. February came and I had to rot in Study Hall from 11:17 until 3 every day, with a bunch of fucking juvenile delinquents who cannot be quiet or sit down for longer than five minutes.
Last week, my dad’s broke beyond repair. Of course, my car immediately got fixed! I will never get to drive it again, because it’s basically been taken back, and there will be thousands of miles put on it in no time. I’m upset about that, but I decided that it was a gift and I will just have to live with it. Now, my mother says that I have to pay for the car to get fixed because it is still my car. What the fuck?!?! I will never get to drive it, I will never get to see it, I will still be stuck in Study Hall with nasty kids and teachers who don’t give a shit as long as nobody gets killed. Obviously, I can’t talk to my parents about it. I have decided to avoid conflict and just pay. All of my friends agree that it is completely unjust, but I thought that I may get an opinion from a more diverse age group here. Am I right and is this unfair? Or are my parents right and I am a selfish bitch? Thanks for reading this long and tedious rant! :slight_smile:

Well, I know I wouldn’t do that to my daughter and my parents didn’t do that to me. So in my opinion, no, it isn’t fair.

Some questions:

Did the car “break” or did your dad do something to break it while driving it (an accident)?

What did you agree to when you got the car? They’d pay for the car itself, you’d pay for insurance/gas/maintenance etc.? In order to claim that it’s your car, you’ve surely got to have some responsibility for it.

What’s your insurance like? Could insurance or warrantee cover the cost of the damage?

Since your parents bought the car, and you are still their dependent, I’d be inclined to say that it’s their car - they don’t owe you either car or private school education. However, if your dad was in an accident or caused the damage to the car, I tend to think he should pay.

Okay, now that I’ve sided with the parents in car-related dispute and used the word warrantee in a non-ironic way, it can be officially said that I am old.

Well, I was with your parents, mostly, until the part where your mom said you had to pay after the car had been taken over for their use. I could see asking you to contribute some of the money for the repair, since you had prior use of the car and may occasionally get to use it again. But they need to decide whether this is their car or yours. I would certainly let them know that you can no longer afford the upkeep for the car and it’s their responsibility from now on.

Overall it sounds like money is becoming increasingly an issue in your house. When things cool down you might consider a family consultation about whether they think you ought to be contributing something to the family budget. You don’t say if, or how much you are working at any paying jobs.

If your parents gave you the car, it should be your car. That would include such things as having to spend all the money that a car incurs as costs, such as repairs, insurance, and maintenance. It would also include the rights inherent in ownership, such as deciding whether or not to use the car, or allow another to use it.

You can use the above guidelines to decide whether or not your parents actually gave you a car.

Sounds like your family has been undergoing a financial reorganization recently. Moved, out of private school, cars allowed to become maintenance deficit, plans abandoned for cost reasons. It doesn’t seem like a smooth course, financially for your entire family.

So, you tell us, or yourself, is the car the only element of this change, or is it really some fundamental change in the family fortunes? It may be that you are catching the fallout of a financial crisis. If that is so, you might want to decide if afternoons draggin’ the neighborhood in your car is the most important issue for you, and for your family. I can’t tell you that.


If you need the car back, be a man and say so. You wouldn’t treat a stranger like this, don’t give your daughter less. The financial crisis will end, one way or another, your relationship with your child doesn’t have to be a casualty. Family events are family events, and need to be openly discussed.

Let me see if I got the story straight.

Parents: Here son or daughter. This car is a gift for you to use and enjoy. I hope you enjoy it, since it has replaced your education.

Parents: May we borrow that car we decided to give you? You certainly don’t need it. You are going to school.

Parents: Your car no long works. You might think about getting it fixed.

Parents: We just fixed your car. So, we can drive it. Please pay us for fixing it. No, you cannot drive the car.

I don’t see how they can justify charging their son/daughter to fix a car if they are just using it themselves.

Without hearing their reasoning. I would have to say it is unfair.

I could see them telling you to fix it, after it broke while your Dad was driving it. But, if they had it fixed to replace his car. I don’t see why they would expect you to pay for those repairs. Sounds sort of sucky.

I don’t see how Study Hall relates to all of this.

Are you stuck in Study Hall, for a reason that is an important part of the story? Like, you had kidnapped your father and forced him to drive the car through the wall of the school gymnasium. Which broke the car. And also landed you in Study Hall. It also destroyed the basketball team’s chances for a State championship. So, you broke the booster’s hearts, your car, your dad’s spirit, and the prinicipal’s patience. I hope you are happy with yourself. Juvenile Delinquent! You definitley deserve what you got! I blame that Discovery Channel song. It is the cause of all teenage crimes for the past two years.



Wow! Thanks for all of the answers! Some of the same themes keep popping up. As to the financial crisis, I don’t believe that there was one, but I will concede that kids are not always knowledgable of everything in their parents’ lives. Moving had nothing to do with money, though, we moved to an house that we have been using for summers and weekends for years; and my parents have not changed jobs and no new expenses have been added (that I can see). In fact, we have less expenses than we did before, as we lived in a suburb and we now live in a more rural community. Changing schools was my idea. I went to an all-girls’ private school and wanted to experience public school. I’m sure someone will ask, and yes, I regret it. (Not b/c I have anything against public schools, but this one is horrendous.) No-one fixed the car for me to teach me repsonsibility. I understand it already. I do work and I paid the insurance on the car. It wasn’t an accident that broke the car, it was a faulty part. I can understand where they’re coming from, but I disagree with paying for this particular repair, as I only to go to school and work, and will not be able to use the car for those purposes. Thanks for all your help! (Oh, yeah, if your classes end early and you can’t leave, you spend the day in Study Hall until the bus comes. It’s awful. I try to study, they play the Penis Game, the usual.)


Ok, I was all ready to write a serious reply and here you throw me off track…

Ummm… The Penis Game??? Huh?

I got no clue what you’re talkin about there, but then again I graduated HS in 1983.

You say you will not be able to use the car to go to work or to go to/from school. Are your parents expecting your to have any use of the car, or are you expected to be the owner but never get to drive it?

You mention that you do work, so would you be able to pay for this repair if you choose to, or would it be a great financial hardship for you to pay for it? (Are we talking a $200 part/labor repair, or a $2000 parts/labor repair here?)

So far, from the story you’ve told us, I do think you’re getting a pretty raw deal, and you should try and ask why. Lay it out just as logically, and factually as you have for us here, try to avoid whining and make clear you want more information from them as to why this is their stance, rather than an immidiate change of heart on their part.


It’s fair in a way in another way it isn’t. You did drive the car before it broke correct? You are partly liable for the cost of the car breaking down. You can’t simply assume the driving your father did with the car is what caused it to need fixing. You two should split the cost of fixing it.

I do have a problem with your bitching about being stuck in school. It’s high school there are for sure going to be immature little pricks in there your gonna have to deal with that. Another thing you figured the car would never need any fixing or anything which in turn translates to you being able to leave every single day at 11:17? It’s a car things go wrong on them all the time. Why don’t you talk to the principal and see if you can take a non-credit independent study course in the library or computer lab? I had all the time after my lunch free my senior year. I used it to my advantage. I went to the computer lab everyday spent some time learning about computers, some time goofing off, and eventually spent some time helping out around the school. Why is this whole situation all about you?

I’m not trying to be rude or anything here honest. I was in your exact same situation at one point and time. Parents gave me a car. Dad’s car broke down. Parents take car of mine back. I pay to get the other car fixed they take it back. Get my car bac and maybe a week after I had the car a water hose busted the car overheated in a matter of seconds and cracked the head. I had to fix my car after that. Yeah it sucked but I dealt with it. I spent a good $2000 fixing both of the cars, but I learned something out of the situation. Things are gonna go wrong and you can’t avoid that, but you can be cool about things and help your parents out. My parents got divorced recently and my mom stays broke because of my dad not paying her child support and such. On more than one occassion I’ve handed over my checks from work to her so she could pay bills and stay afloat. It’s not all about you in this world. What will it hurt you to help out some? I’m sure in the long run your parents put out ALOT more money for you than it will take to fix some car.

If memory serves, “The Penis Game” consists of two (or more) people taking turns saying the word “penis”. Gradually they increase the volume. The game ends when someone becomes too embarassed to continue, or it gets loud enough that a teacher hears and tells everyone to shut up.

Stupid people find this endlessly amusing.

You give someone a present, you gave someone a fuckin present.
It’s theirs.
Someone uses your car and wrecks it- they pay.
Someone uses your car and a part goes bad- it’s your car, you pay.
Someone tells you they’re gonna use your car- they pay.
End of damn story.

(Based on what you said in your op and subsequent post)

That’s not teaching responsibility- that’s teaching , jeez, I don’t even know what to call it…

I’m with most of the people up there.

I also know I’m not in your situation.

So this is me, shutting up…




Can’t help you out with what you’ve given us, but I’m completely impressed with the common sense posts you’ve received 'till now. I would certainly take their advice. At least, with the information you’ve given us so far.

From what you’ve described, it sounds like you’re getting a raw deal. But I’m going to propose an alternate set of events:

  • Parents gave you a car. They expected you to pay for insurance and repairs.
  • The car broke while your dad was driving, but not by virtue of him damaging it.
  • Your parents told you you had to fix it, but it sat in the driveway and you didn’t fix it. Or maybe they didn’t explicitly tell you, but it was certainly their presumption that it was your car and your responsibility to get it fixed
  • After the car rusted in the driveway for a month, your dad’s car broke.
  • Your parents were a bit disgusted that you hadn’t done anything with your car, and felt it would be a waste to buy your a dad a new car when yours was sitting there unused, so
  • Your dad got your car fixed (which he probably did unhappily, since he felt you had shirked your responsiblity) and has since been using it.

Is this possible?

Ummmm, whose name is on the title?

because if it is, frankly, you have some creepy damn parents. And if you have such creepy damn parents, it seems you would have known it before this. Because the actions described in the OP are indicative of a whole mindset, one that is, to say the least, less than perfectly charming.

I say get your parents in here to give us their side of the story!


As a parent, I actually don’t like the idea of them giving you a car and then taking it back. I try to teach my kids how to behave by example, and if I give them something, I don’t take it back. That is just rude. I understand them wanting you to fix your own car, that is your responsibility. Taking the car back, denying you access to it, and then asking you to pay for the repairs doesn’t sound reasonable under any circumstances I can think of. In what way is this teaching you to be a responsible adult?

I often find that I am alone in trying to treat my kids like I would treat anyone else, but so far they are turning out to be remarkably helpful, polite, and respectful.

I can assure you that under the circumstances you described, as a parent, if you have been a responsible car owner up until that time, I would have offered to loan you the money for repairs, which you would pay back, and you would be able to do with the car as you wished. If I borrowed the car regularly, I would also offer to contribute towards maintenance and repairs. The best teaching really is by example, and that is what I would expect from anyone borrowing my car, my kids included.

I’m also sympathetic towards being stuck in study hall. I may be much older, but I’ve also been a student recently, and was stuck at school from 11-3:30 after my car got totalled. It is hard to study with people everywhere (I was in a cast, or finding a quiet spot would have been easier), and I would have preferred to drive home during my break.

If it’s your car, and you don’t want to pay for the repairs, why don’t you advise your parents that you’ve decided to sell the car instead of keeping it?

If you aren’t getting to drive it, why the heck would you want to keep paying the insurance and other expenses on the car?

I think if you make this suggestion, you will immediately find out who your parents think owns the car, and go from there.

I’ve tried to consider this from your parents’ point of view, and this is a hypothetical that I think explains their actions and might explain their motivations. If you think this is incorrect, please tell me why.

First, I assume the car is not truly “yours” but that your parents bought it for your use but have retained ownership of it? Is this correct? Whose name is on the title, yours or theirs?

Okay. Parents get car for child to drive. Parents tell child “you will have to pay for the upkeep of the car, including insurance, gas, and repairs.” Parents drive the car occasionally, and on one of those occasions the car breaks down – not due to any action of the driver, but due to a faulty part. (In other words, it could just have easily broken down when you were driving it.) Parents tell child “Your car broke down; it was no one’s fault but you are responsible for repairs so you must pay to repair it.” You can’t afford to do so, and the car just sits there, broken. Parents refuse to do so because they are “teaching you responsibility” by making you live up to your agreement to handle expenses for the car.

Then Dad’s car breaks down. It will be very difficult to repair, or very expensive to repair, or take a long time to repair. Meanwhile, there is your car, just sitting there, not being used, and it can be easily and cheaply repaired, and, while his car is out of commission, your dad needs a car to drive. So he fixes yours so that he can use it until his is repaired. BUT, in his mind, the car ought to have been repaired by you, and the fact that he was forced to pay to repair it by other circumstances does not, in his opinion, mean you are not STILL responsible for the cost of the repair. Just as if, if you broke a window, they might repair it for their own ends (to keep the cold out) but they would still expect you to pay for it.

Here’s where you lose me: “I will never get to drive it, I will never get to see it, it has basically been taken back.” If you truly think that your parents have permanently reposessed the car, then you can tell them that you don’t feel you are any longer responsible for the cost of it because you don’t even get to drive it. If, however, your dad is only using the car until his gets fixed and then intends to give it back to you to use, then I don’t think they’re out of line to expect you to pay – or help to pay – for a repair that the car needed and without which it was useless – “rotting in the driveway,” in your words.

But I would think very carefully before I told them that I refused to pay to fix the car because I never got to drive it and they had taken it back. If I was a parent, driving a car I had had fixed because my kid couldn’t or wouldn’t, and causing no inconvenience to the kid because she wasn’t using the car anyway (since it was broken), and I only intended to use it until mine was fixed – and she came to me and said “you’ve taken it back; you pay for it” – I would drive the car until mine was fixed and then I would sell it and that would be the end of that.

This, of course, is all based on the assumption that it really is their car, in terms of ownership and regardless of whether or not they bought it primarily for your use. If it truly is your car – your name is on the title – then they have no right to drive it without your permission.

I’m just going to chime in and say that I will agree with most of the people in here and say that I think that you may indeed be getting a raw deal.

You really should establish whether this is your car or not. Whose name is on the title? If it’s yours, then I really don’t see how they can tell you what to do with it, or even use it without your permission.

I’d be pretty torqued in your situation, if I was told, “Look, we are going to fix your car, but in turn, you won’t be driving it. Oh, and BTW, you get to pay for the fix.” Aroo??!?

Are they saying you have to pay for it period, and you won’t be driving it, or you won’t be driving it until you pay for it? Either way seems screwy to me, but one is a little more reasonable than the other.

Also, on another note, I have done the whole school transition thing myself, so I can completely sympathize with you. Hang in there. At least you only have to put up with it for the rest of your senior year. It could have been longer. Take consolation in that. :slight_smile: