Mar 2, 2011
My Kids Return the Car on Empty

Modern Day Etiquette for the Little Frum World: My children frequently ask to borrow our car for various errands and outings.

N'shei Chabad Newsletter

Dear Ettie,

B”H, I have a large family and a few of my married children live near me in Crown Heights. Like many young couples in the city, they do not own cars. I do. My children frequently ask to borrow our car for various errands and outings. I am happy to lend my car to them. I am not so happy the next morning when I’m running late to an appointment, ease in to the driver’s seat (which is always too close or too far from the pedal) and find that my car is on empty! What should I do? I don’t want to stop lending my car, but I can’t be constantly annoyed at my kids and their spouses either!

- Shvitzing Shviger

Dear Shviger, I hear your frustrations!
Young moms and dads sometimes get so caught up in their own needs and wants that they use and abuse the people who allow it (mommy).

You are right that this cannot continue the way it is. If you are like my father (G-d bless him) you would come roaring into the house and proclaim: “My car is NEVER to be lent outagain. Period.” And that would be that. But you are probably not like my father.

I would suggest typing up a polite reminder and taping it to the dashboard of your car. It could say something like this: “Yourloving Mommy and Shviger is happy to lend you her car. Please remember to put gas in the car before you return it. Thank you!”

I would also add something about cleaning out banana peels, receipts, diapers, food wrappers, half-filled milk bottles (which turn sour and then smell, causing a frantic call to pest control in search of a dead animal).

Hopefully this communication will be effective. If it is not, take my father’s approach without any guilt.

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Opinions and Comments
I'm not sure you would get a good response
I think the note is kind of a daughter-in-law- that is what I would think...
I would feel more comfortable if you just said it straight up!
Guys would you mind filling up when you see the car is on empty?
(4/28/2011 7:01:42 PM)
#1 is right
Open and straight forward discussion face to face has the best results and is most effective.
(6/2/2011 7:49:18 PM)
Gas fillup
Just ask them when they take a trip to fill $10. Or if it's empty to obviously fill it. Don't be embarrassed to ask, just say " You used the gas, why should I pay for it".
(10/26/2011 9:55:42 AM)
effective solution:
they're your kids! starting a new life and everything, it's probably not only time consuming, it an extra expense!
If you want them to fill it up, give them cash to do so!
(11/9/2011 2:26:39 PM)
(12/15/2011 12:30:09 AM)
Number 4
then let them take the train. Im sorry to say, but now a days, children are getting more and more selfish, and even if they dont have alot of money, they could put 5 or 10 dollars worth of gas.
(1/25/2012 11:36:57 AM)
A daughter
Just remind them. If they don't own a car they probably don't think about it. If you simply say something about gas when they come to take the car, that will hopeful bring it to their attention.
p.s. when ever i borrow my mothers car and move the seat forward i think to my self to make sure to move it back afterwards but when i leave the car i always forget to move the seat back. I don't mean to be rude, I just forget. A friendly reminder when i walk into the house will solve that issue.
(3/28/2012 12:58:04 AM)
to #4
You are out of your mind!!!!!
Who cares if its hard to do it! you borrowed OUR car and u cant fill it up!
life has expenses deal with it. to say that they should give money to the kids??? that's ludacris!!!!!!
I hope your married already and have kids of your own cuz if i had to have u as a child in law i swear, things would not end well with your attitude

(12/30/2012 3:18:08 PM)
Chinuch at any age
There is nothing wrong to educate your children and their spouses even if they are married and they are borrowing your car. Derech Eretz needs to be reminded at all times. If they do that with you, what would they do with others. It is our duty as parents and in-laws to teach them the proper ways of behaviour and not to take anything for granted.

I am often flabberghasted when I see people behave with minimal consideration and pure selfishness. Although I have a friend who has mentioned that it is not common to have common sense, it is our responsibility to speak up, especially if they are our children.

Imagine what other people would say if they would do the same to strangers. It is still our responsibility to provide chinuch even if they are married, even more so with our belongings.
(2/3/2013 10:36:00 PM)
I agree
I do not drive, nor do my daughters. Some people ask how i survive. I tell everyone, is it better that i buy a car then buy food?
I can't afford it!
(3/19/2013 8:07:10 PM)
what's the question
I would take my daughter/ son aside and explain that the mensch like thing to do is fill the car at least to how much has been used. Chinuch is a responsibility which never ends.
(12/29/2014 10:27:00 AM)
No 4
Why should she have to give the kids money to use her car, if they dont want or cant afford to chip in and put gas in the car, they should not ask her to use her car, even if you use public transportation you have to pay for a mta card
(3/12/2015 6:29:42 PM)
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