The summer has been lovely, hasn't it? Kids playing with friends, leisurely family time spent at the beach, no homework to complete, no hectic schedule to stay on. And now we're about to rev our engines, line up at the starting line, and begin the nine-month race to the finish line of yet another school year. I'm panting just thinking about it.
Sometimes in the heat of the race, in other words the busyness of everyday school life, we start zooming along so fast in our effort to get each project completed on time, that we forget to have calm, quiet conversations with our kids. And when, WHEN could we possibly do this?
Maybe the breakfast table is not a place for easy conversation - "Did you put your lunch money in your backpack?" "Honey! Please come downstairs, we're leaving in 5 minutes!"
Or possibly the dinner table is not an opportunity for peaceful conversation - "Have you finished your math homework?" "Please do not toss the soccer ball in the air while we're trying to eat. "
And while carpooling to school or soccer practice or dance rehearsal, in our effort to successfully run this daily school race, could be used to review spelling words, see how fast we can say the "9" times tables, or practice our poem for the Speech Meet, it could be used instead to have calm, quiet, relational conversations with your kids. Oh, there's a thought.
Now this might not happen naturally. We, Moms and Dads, have to be intentional about this.
Give your child your attention. After all, isn't your relationship with your son or daughter one of the most important things in your life? And, one more thing... Don't appear as though you are working at this. Even if you are.
Here are a few conversation starters you might try:
Granted, sometimes it might be quiet, no one saying a word. And that’s ok. But when they talk, listen to their answers. Reflect back what your child is saying in a way that he/she knows you have heard and understand. Use questions as a jumping off point to begin a two-way conversation.
What questions we ask will depend on whether there are others in the car and how old they are. You know your kids. If this is a group of kids who have been together for a few years and are
comfortable with each other, you could even put a question out there and see who answers!
Being together in the car for a period of time creates the opportunity for interaction among family members and with other kids who are part of your carpool. Don't underestimate the ways you could be an encouragement to other children simply by listening to them.
Here’s the thing: You have a captive audience in your carpool. Use this time with those kids God has given you (your own and maybe others, too) to begin to develop and nurture a positive relationship with them.