The car journey – A time to talk

In role as a life coach, I have a lot of sessions with teenagers and it amazes me how many of them say they don’t or can’t talk to their parents.

Maybe it is because it is so difficult to drag them away from their devices and have a conversation? If I’m being honest the same applies to many adults too. There is so much stimulation online – with friends on social media, You Tube or Netflix and then there’s the habit of checking and replying to emails, texts and other group chats. Talking in person is becoming more of a rarity and therefore people find it more difficult to talk as they aren’t practicing this important skill.

When I was a child we ate our tea together at the table most nights and we talked about what had gone on that day. We used to sit in the living room watching one of the three channels on T.V. and we would and pass comment whilst watching the programmes, a bit like ‘Gogglebox’ on Channel 4. I am not saying things are terrible now, I love the internet and technology. I do however believe it comes at a cost. A lack of communication and understanding between people.

‘Taxi Run’

Last week I was listening to Jo Whiley on Radio 2 as I was on my way back from dropping my daughter off at her dance class. It was the phone in where Jo invites listeners to choose a song whilst they are doing the ‘taxi run’ for their children. I began calculating how much time I spend in the car each week on the ‘taxi run’ – at least 8 hours.

I am fortunate in my job that it has highlighted the importance of communication with our children. Maria and I have an arrangement that she doesn’t go on her phone in the car so that we can talk. We talk about anything and everything. School, friendships, boys, teachers, feelings, worries, dance and even politics. Although it takes time out from my day, instead of it being a burden, dead and wasted time, I see it as time well spent.

A lot of the time we talk about trivial things that happen but these are ‘gold dust’ in my opinion. A problem with a friend turns into a conversation about what she can do about it, increasing her resilience and helping her to become a confident adult. For me the journey is an opportunity to question and open up and get to understand my children better.

On Tuesdays after I have dropped Maria off, I pick my son up and we spin at the Gym together. On the way back in the car, after the class when we are truly exhausted, I can’t shut him up. I asked him what he feels about being able to talk about anything to us. “Because I can talk about anything, I feel a lot less stressed than if I kept it in to myself. The stress is taken away when I have talked about it”.

It’s Good to Talk

The main philosophy of organisations like the Samaritans is that the power of talking and being listened to should not be underestimated. I came across this article in the Guardian from my friend at the Samaritans which I think explains the power of talking in the car extremely well: read it here.

I am afraid I can’t claim to be the person with wisdom here, my mum can claim this one. She told me years ago that the car was where she felt most able to communicate with me and my sister. Her view was that we couldn’t get away from her, there were no distractions and it was a safe place and she could give us her full attention.

For anyone who sometimes feels they are spending dead time in the car, back and forth, I wanted to share her wisdom on and hope that ‘taxi time’ might be seen in a different and more positive way.