Years ago, I was a housemother in a children’s home. At the time, I noticed many of the teenagers’ best discussions with me were when we were in the car, driving around town – boys and girls alike seemed to open up and spill their thoughts on life, what was happening in school and with friends, and fears, wants, and desires for their future.
So, it came as no shock to me when I learned in grad school that an effective counseling technique with older children is to have them in the car – driving to and from doctor appointments, counseling, etc. This particular instructor was encouraging those of us hoping to go into clinical social work to not be afraid to think outside the box. The professor wanted us to consider expanding counseling sessions to outside the traditional concept of sitting on the couch in a stuffy office with neon lighting.
It was a technique I effectively implemented, especially when I conducted Intensive In-Home Counseling. The teenagers were more open and honest about their feelings as we drove around, and I coached parents to turn off their radios, and use the time in their car to talk to their children.
Fast forward to becoming a mom, and having two littles. I have noticed my son chatters incessantly in the car, as we are driving around. He shares his thoughts and insights with me, asks questions, and volunteers his unsolicited commentary at every turn. Given the many months we drove around where he was peacefully slumbering in the car seat, it has taken me some getting used to, having to remember to pay attention to the constant chattering from the back seat.
Two days ago, with just E in the car, it dawned on me – the talking with children in the car doesn’t begin at the teenage years. It doesn’t even begin at the toddler age.
In my household, given the amount of squeals and incoherent chattering coming from Little Miss, and the reciprocal “discussion” she felt we were having, the communication between driver and passengers begin as babies! Because, when E is not falling asleep in the car, and is not surrounded by others talking, she will fill the void and make her own voice heard!
So, now I will have to make a concerted effort to turn off the music and the songs as we drive around, and open my ears to the joyful communication being directed my way by both my children.
I will gladly forgo quiet rides, and instead find the bliss in the beautiful noise of our family!