Your car is already the taxi of bringing everyone to and fro. Did you know that this is also the best place to have real conversations with your teen? Especially those conversations?
That’s because your teen knows there will be a limit on this conversation. You will eventually be arriving at your destination. That ten or twenty minute drive is plenty enough time to talk about what is concerning you.
Plus your teen gets to ride shotgun. This means that you are having this conversation without having to look each other in the eyes. Or sitting face-to-face. You both have the advantage of looking forward while being in this small space together. You both have the added distraction of traffic lights and whatever may be outside the windows to break up any discomfort.
Besides cars are more comfortable than the kitchen or the bedroom. Cars feel like freedom. You are going somewhere. You are leaving the house to go to some place different. You are both moving forward to somewhere, just like what you want this conversation to do. Sitting back buckled up in that bucket seat with wide windows around you doesn’t feel like entrapment. Even with the seatbelt on. Plus the ride and discussion is going to come to an end sometime soon.
But phones are still in that car with you. Phones are that constant blocker of communication as your beloved’s cute nose is buried into the screen–even if your teen is fake-scrolling to appear busy. You can ask for the phone to be put down. Because this ride will be over before you both know it.
Talks to save for the car ride:
- “The” talk about sex.
- When you’ve found porn on a device – You can let your beloved know he/she has been caught and both of you will be relieved to have this conversation be a car ride in length. As this conversation is very important to have. Maybe more than once. Porn is damaging.
- About who the friends really are – You have a convenient lead-in when your teen has started scrolling on his/her phone. Just start asking the deeper questions about who they talk with on the phone. Or at school or at church. Ask character questions. Ask how that friend influences your teen. Your teen may grow defensive but so what, the ride will be over with soon. And you will have gained some valuable information.
- Gab about peer pressure – I use that word “gab” on purpose. On that car ride just start gabbing about how peer pressure hasn’t ended for you, stories of your adolescent peer pressure times, just gab, gab, gab. Maybe your beloved will also share a story. Maybe your beloved will just giggle and anxiously await to exit the car. Either way you will have taught something.
- About drug and alcohol use – There is a good chance you will have overheard some conversations or seen some texts about what sort of exposure your beloved has had to drugs and/or alcohol. Use this taxi drive time to drop what you’ve overheard and ask the questions you have. You may need to lecture a bit (as you certainly know more than your teen) so this conversation having a limit will help that lecture sink in a bit more.
- About the honest beliefs about God – Believe it or not, teens are not asked about their honest beliefs very much. They are told a lot of things. They repeat back the answers they believe they should give. But their doubts, which keep them awake at night, are rarely revealed. Make the car a safe place to have those conversations. Ask pointed questions to help them realize their doubts are not damning but growing points. Remember that, “Doubt is not toxic to faith. Silence is.” Thankfully you have so many car rides to not add to this silence.
- About something deep that is going on with you – You are not perfectly managing your life, right? Teens don’t need to know everything about a parent’s life but you are actually helping your beloved figure out adult life by showing some vulnerability. The added bonus of doing this while on a car ride with your beloved will feel like you both had a moment together as just the two of you. And that you trusted him/her with your vulnerability.
- Dreams of the future – While enjoying that feeling of the open road, randomly ask questions about how your beloved sees his/her future. Your teen may have no idea at that moment but you asked so some thoughts may start rolling. Your teen may have lots of thoughts (maybe fears) about the future but has never vocalized them to anyone. Here in the limited car ride your teen may take the chance to speak these dreams.
What should not be talked about on that car ride:
- Asking your beloved to yet again be responsible with chores – Don’t make your teen hate taking a taxi drive with you.
- Academic expectations – Chances are you could be driving to a location that is adding stress to your teen’s academic expectations. No reason to add to that stress in the car along the way to that stressor.
- Anything to do with puberty – No reason to make your teen feel so awkward before being dropped off somewhere where they may already feel awkward to be at.
- Teaching points about money and budgeting – Some one-off teaching points may come up during a taxi drive but these life lessons really need to be side-by-side, probably with a computer and a stack of bills.
- Honesty about your past – You may wish to share this on a taxi drive because you want the conversation to be short. However your teen will need the lingering time of another setting so he/she can ask you all of the questions that come to mind.