When my three kids were younger, driving them around with their friends— whether it was to school or to the beach– always meant extra time with them which I loved. However, it als0 meant I needed to pop some Advil because kids seem to ramp it up about one-hundred percent when they are together.
It’s always been worth it (well, almost always) though because I get to have a peek into their world I might not normally get. Like the time I learned my daughter was nervous for basketball tryouts, something she never shared with me. Then there was the day I found out my oldest son was being harassed by another kid in his class because he and his friends started talking about it.
When my children are with their friends it’s obvious they are more comfortable talking about things and sitting in the front seat and listening to their conversations has let me in on more information than asking them questions ever has.
When they come home from school or from a night away after being with friends I always ask them questions and get nothing. They always respond with “fine” or a shoulder shrug. It’s as if as soon as I ask them anything about an experience or how they are feeling about something, they shut down and can’t come up with anything to say.
I’m not sure if they just don’t want to talk to me or they aren’t sure what to say but I do know it’s normal since a lot of my other mom friends are frustrated by the same thing.
It seems that part of the solution to the problem is to get a few of their friends in my car and to drive around….and eavesdrop. There have been so many times I’ve had some great talks with my kids and their friends on our way to get some fast food or to drop them off at a party.
They are so much more relaxed in front of their friends and a lot more candid. I still ask them questions but I try very hard not to pepper them with too many of them and let them do the talking. The quieter the parent, the more the kids will talk with their friends and the more you find out.
It has also been a great way to get to know their friends better. When I was a kid, I always found it easier to talk to other kids’ parents especially if they were cooler than my parents which was always the case. I didn’t feel like there was as much at risk or if I said something that made them question my judgment, it wouldn’t be held over me later.
It’s important for kids to know they can always go to an adult and as much as I try and remind my kids of that fact, it doesn’t mean they will always come to me. But, when they see their friends opening up and talking about things that bother them or they are excited about, it seems to give them the okay to do the same.
I have three kids and it’s important to me to connect with all of them as often as I can. Since they have gotten older (they literally turn into teens overnight), it has become harder. But one way I can keep the communication going is to bring them to as many places as I can. There are times I don’t always have the energy or I’d rather not take them and their friends to the mall. Or a game when they have a sleepover but I do it as often as I can.
Because one thing I know for sure is that you never regret getting to know your child better and all the moms I know are willing to do whatever it takes to get closer to their kids.
Do you eavesdrop on your kids when you are driving them around?