by Lori Richey, former youth director
When your child gets a driver’s license, it’s easy to imagine all the ways this momentous event in their life will free up time in your own. Driving themselves home from after-school practice, picking up groceries, helping shuttle siblings – wow!
And while these things are a blessing, we sometimes don’t realize the negative impact that comes with no longer riding regularly with our kids… the disappearance of “car time” as a consistent time for conversation.
Something magic happens when we’re riding in the car with our kids – maybe it’s because there are fewer distractions or we’re trapped in a smaller space together. It could be that the fact we don’t have to look directly at one another that makes car time so beneficial in engaging in conversation.
In order to maximize the car time you do get with your teen or young adult, asking the right questions is crucial. The key is steering clear of questions that can be answered with a yes, no, or other one-word response, and remaining open, curious, and non-judgmental about the responses you hear.
Here is a great list of 100 questions that teens indicated would elicit more than a monosyllabic answer.
Open-ended questions like these can create an atmosphere in which young people feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and opinions. And creating a safe environment can in turn lead to more in-depth conversations that explore where God might be leading or calling your child.
Utilizing car time with your teen or young adult well allows you to hear about their interests and passions, which school classes bring them the most joy, which are the most challenging, and other topics that can illuminate (for both of you!) where their specific gifts and skills can best be used in life.