Corollas, Crack and Cash

July 01, 2007 | Fresh Start | Karl Haffner

I won't say my Toyota Corolla is old, but the insurance on it covers fire, theft and chariot collisions. For more than 230,000 miles now, my car has been as dependable as Old Faithful (the radiator does consistently overheat). And I wouldn't trade it for a Mercedes Benz (OK, now I'm exaggerating!).

Recently a businessman hopped in for a ride when I found myself apologizing for the less-than-quiet cruise. "Not a problem," he said, "I'm guessing your kids go to Rogers Adventist School and that's more important than a new car."


Frankly, I'm happy to drive a heap if it helps my kids to receive a quality Christian education. I, for one, am thrilled to send my kids to a school that regularly teaches values that build character.

For example, recently they celebrated Red Ribbon Week at school. Each day the students were reminded of the perils of drugs, alcohol and tobacco. I'm all for help from the teachers who train my kids in this area.

To team up with teachers in this effort, I pass along a suggestion I recently got from my friend Dan Serns, North Pacific Union ministerial director. He explained how he made a deal with his kids that if they would go until they were 20 years old without using any alcohol, drugs or tobacco, he would give them $1,000 ... CASH! All three of his kids determined to drain Dad's coffers some day. Just recently Dan's oldest child turned 20 and he scored a sweet payday. Their son said, "I've been offered drugs and drinks, but I said to my friends, ‘Are you crazy? I'd lose a thousand bucks if I took a swig of that stuff.'"

So my wife and I made the same offer to our girls Claire and Lindsey (ages 7 and 11). We adapted the idea—raising the payoff age to 21, and throwing "no premarital sex" into the deal. The way we figure, a thousand bucks is nothing compared to bailing our kids out of jail or paying for a DUI accident or helping them cope with the pain of promiscuity. I'm happy to offer an incentive to my girls if it helps to save them that pain.

Our heavenly Father wants to spare each of us from such pain as well. The Bible teaches, "Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him; for God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple" (1 Corinthians 3:16-17, NIV).

I've nothing to push on this deal. You can adapt it to your situation. You may be a grandparent wishing to offer this reward for your grandkids. Perhaps you're a kid, and you want to float the idea past your parents. This suggestion comes in a file labeled, "If it's helpful then use it!"

What I like most about this suggestion is that it has opened up the channel of communication between us as parents and our kids. Perhaps the most important factor in keeping our kids drug-free and pure is to have parents who are willing to talk about the real issues kids face. By doing this, I have already had several conversations with my oldest daughter about drugs and premarital sex. The talks have been fun.

"So what are you going to do with your $1,000?" I asked.

"I dunno," she said. "What can I buy for $1,000?"

"You could buy Daddy's car," I said.

"Really?" her eyes swelled to the size of kiwis.