These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Deuteronomy 6:6-7
Moses spoke these words as an encouragement to the people of Israel. He wanted them to understand that it’s a parent’s role to disciple their children and to know that it’s not difficult! He showed them that God had placed these natural rhythms in our lives and that we can leverage those rhythms for our family’s benefit.
Last week we looked at making sure we help our children start the day in the best possible way. Today let’s look at one of the more fun times we share with our kids…drive time!
There is something disarming about being in the car together. Whether you’re heading out on a vacation or just running errands drive time is a fun time to really connect with your kids!
For us, drive time is different with our individual kids. Our oldest wants to jam to her top 40 music and talk about what’s going on in her life. We talk about what happened at school that day, problems she’s having at school, who likes who, what teacher said what, etc. We do a lot of goofing off, but we have some serious talks as well.
Jenna turns 16 on May 2nd and she’s talking about what she wants to do in life. She’s thinking about college and next steps. She’s stepping up her academic classes for her junior year knowing those colleges will be taking a close look. She’s finding babysitting jobs to earn money for school trips and a car. She’s becoming more and more responsible. And a lot of these things are discussed on drives to the store or to someone’s house for babysitting.
Her mother and I can easily impart spiritual and practical life lessons to her while in the car that we couldn’t while in other places.
One of my favorite seasons of drive time with Jenna was when I coached her middle school softball team. On the way to games and practices we talked about what we expected and how she could achieve those. On the way home, we looked at how she performed, what she did well and what she could improve on for next time. We had honest talks that helped her become not only a better player but a better person.
Brock is in a different stage for drive time. He’s almost nine and he wants to be silly. We roll down the windows, crank some rock and sing at the top of our lungs. He loves to have the wind flow through his long hair while he’s belting out his tunes.
He also loves to play YouTube videos about our galaxy and space that we can both listen to on the way to school. After the short video is over we’ll talk about how amazing God is for creating such a wonderful universe. He is in this moment of discovery and it’s in the car that we talk about it.
With drive time you need to have some ground rules in place to be able to leverage it. Here are some suggestions to make your family’s drive time the best it can be.
It’s start with you parents. You must be present. It’s easy to turn on the radio and just zone out, to go on autopilot and get to where you’re heading. But don’t do that! If you do you’ll miss out on some amazing conversations.
Start by asking how their day was or what they have going on for the day. Tell them about the weird dream you had last night or about an interesting story you read. Ask them if they heard the latest news or sports story. You know your kids and what their interested in. Whatever it is they like to talk about use that to get the ball rolling!
Cell phones and tablets are a part of today’s world and more than likely your kids. It just is. There are some cool things we can do with that (like Brock and I with YouTube) but if we’re not careful we can become isolated even while sitting in the car together.
So maybe you limit when your kids can use devices in the car. For instance, if you’re in town no devices. If you’re driving on a long trip set time limits for how long a stretch they can be on the device.
Growing up I can remember going on trip and taking my cassette player with headphones and isolating myself. Today’s kids are no different than we were. They just have cooler toys.
Instead of devices grab some on the road games for trips like Mad Libs! We travel to our home state of Missouri once a year to visit family and we always grab a Mad Libs and have a riot coming up with the dumbest or grossest stories possible.
For in town errands you don’t need anything elaborate, you just need to be intentional.
Practice Makes Perfect
If this isn’t something your family has been doing, then yes, it’s going to be awkward when you start. But don’t give up just because it’s a little weird at first. Push through that initial weirdness and have some fun.
These natural rhythms are in place to give you opportunities to fight for your children’s heart. If you just give up because it’s awkward, what does that say to your kids? So push through it and keep trying. The weirdness won’t last forever. One day it’ll just stop being weird and you’ll find yourself laughing at something they said or rocking out to a song you loved in high school or just listening to your child open up. And you’ll realize it was totally worth it.
Drive time is maybe the most fun time of all these rhythms so use as such. Have fun. Open up and let your kids mess around with you. Use it to grow closer as a family to each other and God!