We Bought Bill a Truck

Mark, We made contract with [our son] Bill when we bought him a truck. It said he would keep grades at C's and have no more behavior problems. The second week of school, he was suspended for telling the bus driver to shut up and flipping him off. We have the truck for sale. This was stated plainly in contract. Are we doing the right thing? ~ Sharon


Hi Sharon,

As you read my ebook, you'll discover where I fall of the issue of "advanced credit." The deal you made with your son goes something like this:

"We'll give you a truck in exchange for (a) grades no lower than a 'C' and (b) no more behavior problems."

With unconventional, strong-willed kids, "advanced credit" is the kiss of failure.

For example, son says, "Mom, can I go over to my friend's house to play basketball."

Mom says, "No, not until you get your homework done."

Son says, "I'll do it when I get back ...I promise. I've gotta play basketball."

Mom says, "O.K., but you make sure you're home in one hour and get started on that homework."

Son says, "Alright!" ...and he takes off out the door, fully intending to do his homework when he returns home.

You know the rest of the story. Does the homework get done?

No ...of course not.

Unconventional kids are not into "compromising" or "making deals" with parents -- they simply want to "have it their way." You will NEVER get your son to work for what you want, but you WILL get him to work for what he wants.

Here's what I recommend:

I know it was stipulated in the contract, but don't sell the truck!

The development of "self-reliance" is key. This is a golden opportunity for your son to EARN that truck and develop some self-reliance.

Here's how:

He earns his own money and pays for all or half of the truck -- you decide. He can earn money from doing chores at home, as well as his place of employment (if he's old enough to drive, he's old enough to be working somewhere).

When he reaches the dollar amount that you have agreed to (no contract, simply tell him what the expectation is), he can possess the truck -- and not a minute earlier. If there’s no way he can afford to pay at least half, then trade the truck in for a cheaper vehicle and proceed as described.

Remember: No Advanced Credit!

Tip: When a parent gives a child a vehicle, the kid has it pretty much destroyed in about 9 months. When a child pays for all or half of his vehicle, he washes and waxes the damn thing every weekend.

Please keep me posted regarding the progress of this matter.

Here's to a better home environment,



==> My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents