My family is fortunate to live less than 5 miles from school. But I spend most weekday evenings driving my kids around town between sports, piano practice, jobs, and youth group. For us, nothing is less than a 30-minute drive one-way. On one hand, this much car time could be a huge hassle. On the other hand, I have one or more kids stuck with me in the car for an hour-plus every day. If we were home, they would be in their rooms or outside, but in the car they talk to me. When my oldest daughter started driving, I missed those conversations! Luckily when the newness of her driving independence wore off, she often asked me to go with her again… so we could talk.
I know many of you have a long commute to school or you have friends who resist coming here because of the commute, but I challenge you to see the commute as a gift. Ask them to put away their devices and take out their headphones. Set the expectation that car time is “together time.”
Car time like this is called parallel talk and is a much more effective context for older kids to share than direct questioning. Stories will pour out as they process their days, their relationships, friendships, and events. You can:
Listen to the news and discuss it.
Sing together (or learn about the music they love).
Plan your dinner menus and grocery lists.
Or you can just be quiet together.
It’s in your power to reframe the commute that our location and the modern lifestyle create as a benefit of The Fulton School, rather than a liability. It’s a non-negotiable chunk of time for sharing and reflection. It is built-in quality relationship time — and that is rare in modern American life.