The Car as a Safe Place –or- Placing Conflict on Auto-pilot

Point your kids in the right direction (and) when they’re old, they won’t be lost. (Proverbs 22:6 – The Message)

Living life together is the best way to raise kids. If you are living your passion and sharing it with your children, there will be fewer times that you come into conflict. When you are investing quality AND quantity time with your children, there is more joy in the moment.

Conflict initiated is conflict pounced upon.

Whether we sometimes want it or not, we as parents are the leaders of the family and our children respond to our leadership, both negative and positive. If you are having conflict with your children, could it be that you have possibly created that environment? A few adjustments can sometimes make a rigid relationship into a right relationship with our children. The following is one suggestion that may be helpful to you.

One of the things that we encourage parents to do is to create safe places for your kids. One environment that many families reside in more often now than ever before is the car.

It’s called ‘windshield time’According to a study done by the Harvard Health Watch, an average American spends 101 minutes (or 1 hour and 41 minutes) per day driving. That means that in a lifetime, an average Joe spends a whopping 37,935 hours driving a car (assuming that s/he starts driving at 17 and drives until 78.7 years old). In that time, average Joe will drive around 798,000 miles (1,284,256 kilometers), which is approximately the distance it takes to drive to the moon more than three times!1

If you have children and they are involved in school and extracurricular activities, your time in the car will be spent going back and forth to these activities and the time spent in a car will most likely be more time during this cycle of your life.

I have found that some of the most meaningful conversations that I have had with my own children, children that I work with, and now my own grandchildren, have been had during time in the car.

Here are some ways that you can establish meaningful ‘windshield time’:

  1. No Cell Phones: Cell phones have become, in many ways, the bane of our existence. Though they are meant for communication, I believe that it has actually reduced deep conversation. I mean, OMG, how can you really communicate when everything has been reduced to an acronym, LOL? My wife and I were walking from our car to a restaurant one day and a mother and her two daughters were sitting on a bench, all of them texting on their phone.
    • Why: No cell phones mean that you are able to communicate with each other, thus giving opportunity for meaningful and deep conversation. This strengthens the parent/child relationship and gives opportunity for your bond to be so strong that it stands up to the daily challenges of life.
    • How: If your children are young and don’t have phones, make a decision to put your phone aside when you get in the car. Just like our rule, from the time our children were young, we instilled in them to put their seatbelts on until it became habit for them, the phone should be the same. Then, as they grow up, they know that, as they open the car door, the phone should be set aside. This may also help as they get to the age when they are driving on their own, an added benefit.

If your children already have phones, it is a little trickier to create a new rule. I would NOT call it a rule. Just start doing it yourself and as you develop a positive environment of communication, they may begin to follow suit. Your role is to set the tone in creating an atmosphere that is conducive to conversation.

  1. Make it Positive: Everything you say should be geared towards finding out how things are going with your child. Even when they bring up something that is serious, be a listener and encourage them through it. The conversation should be focused on them.

When I was young, my mom used to come to my bedroom before bedtime. She continued this well into my high school years. I am sure that there were times that she really wanted to be done with her day, but she never showed it. She created an atmosphere that gave me the freedom to talk and talk we did. These were the times that I shared my dreams, shared my fears, times that we talked about life.

Let that be what happens in the car.

1 http://blog.tempo.io/2013/7-time-consuming-things-an-average-joe-spends-in-a-lifetime/

Kent Robson©2016

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