Praise for Buying a Minivan…or Not?

We’re buying a car at the end of the year and my husband wants a minivan because it’s practical for our family.  I DON’T want a minivan. It really is practical but how can I overcome my dislike and accept buying a minivan?  Trisha – Bozeman, MT


My best advice is to test drive the different types of vehicles that you and your husband would consider buying.  Take your kids along with you to test drive and see how comfortable it is for the entire family. Imagine a trunk full of groceries, soccer gear, backpacks, car seats, and the numerous other items that fill a family car on a daily basis. Speaking from my own experience with various types of cars as my family has grown; I too was turned off by the thought of owning a mini-van. However, after finding out how much utility and comfort they offer, I wouldn’t trade my mini-van for anything….at least in this phase of my life when I spend countless hours shuttling my family around.  Marjorie – 30 something


It depends on what your dislike comes from.  Is it because minivans embody all the dowdy stereotypes of modern motherhood?  I agree, they are butt-ugly. However, there is something to be said for having a car that is designated as a kid-friendly space.  Our minivan was trashed — red Gatorade spills on the carpet, old McDonald’s french fries found under the seat, ground up goldfish in the floor.  I am so glad that we had a work horse of a car when my kids were small.  It was one less space for me to keep perfect, and the fact that the kids could climb in by themselves (not to mention I could fit all their gear) was a huge stress reliever.

You know when you have a baby and have to give up earrings and necklaces and perfume for a while? Think of the minivan as a similar stage.  They don’t last forever and you will truly appreciate the replacement when time comes!  Amy C. 40 – something


I have one question for you – is he driving the car, or you?  We spend quite a bit of time in our cars – and it is important to consider practicality along with self-satisfaction.  If he is driving the car, maybe you can find a way to enjoy the perks of a minivan.  But if this is going to be your car – maybe you can find a way to find something that meets some of his needs for practicality (not a minivan) and your need to enjoy getting in your car each day.  Jamee – 40 something


Hi Trish, I’d say the better question to ask yourself, if you truly don’t want a minivan, is how you and your husband can collaborate / compromise on a vehicle that works for all the members of the family. There could be other practical solutions that would work for both of you even if your husband is married to the minivan dream. I’d consider that once you understand all the features that are important to your husband, and to you, that you research other options to bring to this joint decision making process. How you make decisions as a couple is one of the most challenging terrains to navigate, and in my experience if one person constantly accommodates so the other decides, long term resentment can build. And who wants that?  I wish you good luck in working through this, and hope you as a couple find an option that can meet everyone’s needs.  Amy B. – 40 something


What is your main objection to the mini-van: the look, gas consumption, it’s large size? Are there ways to diminish those aspects? For example: if the less than hip look is a downer, can you afford options that give it a little more zip, such as a sunroof, upgraded sound system, or custom paint? Would your husband be wiling to pay more for custom features if it made the van more appealing to you? Is he open to other cars that aren’t mini-vans, but are still practical? A car purchase is such a significant investment, that it would be better to take the time to find a compromise you can both live with, rather than going along with a car you really dislike for the sake of keeping peace, especially if you will be the principal driver, i.e, picking up kids, running errands.  Maria C. – 50 something


I’m assuming you have valid reasons for not wanting a minivan?  Or is this merely an emotional thing?   Figure out which of you spends the most time in the car and that percentage should dictate who has the most say about which model to choose.  If you are the primary driver it makes no sense for you to be steaming every time you get behind the wheel.  However, you don’t mention what kind of car you would consider acceptable.  Is there a practical option that doesn’t carry the baggage you are loading it with?  If your “dislike” centers on the image of the minivan rather than its practicality, and you can’t overcome it, talk to your husband and see if you can’t compromise.  Cars are a home away from home for busy mothers, and it is important he understand you must feel safe, comfortable, and relaxed so it isn’t a constant mental irritant.  Marge – 70 something