You’re driving down the road and your child asks you where babies come from. Well, you can either drive up on the sidewalk, or you can clench the steering wheel a little tighter and go with the conversation.
While this might not quite be the setting you envisioned for this conversation, it could actually turn out to be for the best. At least it can be a great starting point! A car can end up being the ideal setting for many “sensitive” conversations. Whether it is a younger child or a teenager, you can use it to your advantage.
Why? Here are a few things to consider.
1) You can avoid that awkward eye contact. Depending on the topic, it can really make a difference. Sometimes a child (or adult) will feel more at ease to ask questions, make comments, or go deeper into a conversation when you aren’t facing each other. Lying in bed while looking at the ceiling can be a similar strategy.
2) You are not as likely to be interrupted. The doorbell won’t ring. She won’t be pulling away trying to watch television. He won’t be asking if he can play a video game. They can’t exit to another room. There is nowhere to run! (However, you might need to silence a cell phone.)
3) The setting is more casual. And there are built-in distractions if needed. Especially with some of the teenager conversations, you are less likely to give the impression that you are “too interested,” “too concerned,” or “too intrusive.” (For those of you with teenagers, you know precisely to what I’m referring.) If you occasionally make a comment about a car, a street, or make some other observation, it will make it less intense. A random comment can also fill in that dreaded lull, should one occur.
Over the years, I’ve gotten more information out of my children during car rides than in any other place. We’ve also had some of the deepest, most heart-felt conversations we’ve ever had.
Your peripheral vision can allow you to see how much your oldest child is squirming when your youngest child is asking twenty puberty questions. (This is actually a hilarious memory for us!)
My mini-van was the backdrop for topics from school struggles, strategies for asking someone to a dance, to hearing about a first kiss. Admittedly, there have been some close calls, but I’ve never run up on the sidewalk.
Put away the phones and other electronics for some of your car rides and wait for the conversations to unfold!