A drive in the car with children can be transformed into precious moments of intimacy.
Years have passed, but I can still hear the quiet muffled voice telling me in a seemingly detached way: “About the 5 dollars you were looking for … I think it was I who took them.”
Would such a difficult confession from my child have come about in a room full of people? No way. There is something about riding in the car together that offers a unique opportunity for frank and intimate conversations.
The art of initiating an honest conversation with children
Even less talkative children have a deep desire to be heard and understood. They want to share their thoughts and feelings. They are also the ones for whom the environment, in which a conversation takes place, matters. This is the reason why in a group, they remain silent and sometimes seem almost hostile or withdrawn. These children need car trips more than most. They get to feel, for a few minutes at least, that they’re at the center of their parents’ attention.
Parents should know how to approach them without hurting their feelings. Obviously, asking questions is important, but it’s no less vital to accept their silences and timid replies, because “closed” children are both eager to share their interior wealth and to protect it. They are revolted by indiscretion and intimidated by indifference, but once they feel confident, they can share things with a great sense of honesty.
A prayer to recite as you start your car …
Sometimes, approaching a conversation with your child is so difficult that it requires the help of the Holy Spirit, so here is a prayer to say as you start the car, in both Latin and English:
Flecte quod est rigidum
Fove quod est frigidum
Sana quod est saucium
Loosen up whatever is stiff within us.
Ignite within each of us a tenderness that allows us to understand each other.
Heal the wounds each of us carries, and any wounds in my child that I have caused.