This image is close to what it looked like when we traveled with our young children. Unlike today, maps are seldom used. Instead we plug into a GPS or ask SIRI. We included the family dog, because we couldn’t afford boarding, nor did we have a family member to take care of him. Dad was totally focused on the road, mainly to shut out the noise of the kids and mom acted as navigator, also to avoid communicating with the kids.
Today, instead of singing camp songs, each child has a set of earphones and so do the parents. Kids are often on their phones either texting or playing games or filling their brains with indecipherable music. Mom listens to her own kind of music and dad continues to tune everyone out and focuses on the road. If they have anything important to say – like stopping for a potty break or a snack – they text each other within the car. Even in a car of five living human beings and a dog, they make very little human connection. Of course the dog is up for it, but he doesn’t know how to talk, so he looks out the window and slurps all over it so no one could see outside if they wanted to.
So what do parents talk about with their children? What do kids have to say to their parents? You might start by asking questions. What did you think about that last place we visited? What was it like taking a vacation in the old days? How are things going in your life? Are we there yet?
You have that audience available to advise, share memories, to counsel and encourage. You wouldn’t expect those chauffeuring moments to create long time bonding, but they do. Certainly many cab drivers get an earful when delivering their patrons to their destination.
Lots of good family connection can be obtained when deled out in the car. You can use that valuable time to get to know each other. Since we live in a world which revolves around getting from one place to another, those precious moments can be a boon to parenting. There is nothing like open communication.
Treasure the time you have with your children. Soon they will be leading their own lives and it’s good to know that they can talk to you anytime – even in the car. As parents we are setting the example for how they will parent in the future. They need to know that they are loved, cherished and worthy of listening to. Too many things are left unsaid today – things that can change the course of a child’s life. On the other hand, if a parent is opening the door to communication with their children at an early age, they’re setting a precedent which will last for a lifetime.
“Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”