NewsHelp! My Family Expects Me to Give My Brat Little Sister My...

Help! My Family Expects Me to Give My Brat Little Sister My Car for Free.

Dear Prudence

She really does not deserve my generosity.

A woman shrugs holding car keys next to a silhouette of another.

Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by VladimirFLoyd/iStock/Getty Images Plus, Nuttawan Jayawan/iStock/Getty Images Plus, and iprogressman/iStock/Getty Images Plus.

Dear Prudence is Slate’s advice column. Submit questions here. (It’s anonymous!)

Dear Prudence,

My sister was born when I was 14. With my brother and me, our parents were strict with high expectations. We were expected to bring home good grades, keep a part time job, do extracurriculars, and all our chores, or there would be hell to pay. With my sister, my parents just gave up. She coasts by with straight Cs, just sits around and plays on her phone, and is straight up rude in ways that would have gotten me grounded for a week at her age.

My older brother gave me the old car he bought when I turned 16. My parents and sister expect me to do the same when she turns 16 this year. Only I laid down the limit that my sister needed to get a part time job and save X amount of money to prove to me that she would be responsible enough for it. My sister has quit 10 different jobs since the beginning of summer with an excuse each time. She still expects the car despite going back on her promise. My parents just shrug and say what can they do? She is a teenager. She is someone who is going to find a very rude awakening in the real world.

My car is quite old but very well maintained. I would honestly rather sell it outright or donate it than give it to my sister right now. The last time I spoke with her, she “joked” she was doing me a favor by accepting my old car rather than making me buy her a new one. If I don’t give her the car, there will be hell to pay, but I honestly feel it would be better for my sister if she got a taste of the consequences now rather than later. My brother agrees with me but warned me that I will never hear the end of it if I don’t give the “princess” her due. What do you think?

—Car Trouble

Dear Car Trouble,

You’re obviously under no obligation to give your car to your sister, despite what she and your parents “expect.” Especially since you made your expectation that she would contribute clear and she hasn’t been able to meet it.

But the intensity of your feelings about this teenager’s not-that-unusual-for-a-teenager flakiness comes through in your letter. You seem to be taking her behavior really personally. And I wonder if that’s because you’re angry not just because your parents have been more lenient with her, but because they made your childhood harder than it had to be. In your letter, the two phrases “there would be hell to pay” (with respect to what would happen if you didn’t meet their expectations) and “I will never hear the end of it” (with respect to the consequence you fear if you don’t hand the car over) make me think you feared their over-the-top emotional reactions when you were a child and still do today.

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