Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Why the car is the new kitchen table

Now that my girls are a bit older it's getting trickier to get them together for our family chats. We used to always do that over the kitchen table - and still do whenever we can - but now that they have their own interests, boyfriends or friends coming for tea, homework classes, etc. it's not always easy for us to eat together as a family every day. That's one of the reasons we recently started doing our Family Tuesdays, where we do something together - just the three of us. That's when we get to talk properly, as a family.

Getting them to talk to me about personal stuff, or asking tricky questions (i.e. questions that may not get a positive initial reaction from me) seems to happen more often in the car.

I've had some very interesting conversations with my daughters in the car such as this one which made me laugh. In fact Tall Daughter is particularly good at talking in the car, she'll tell me a lot more while I'm driving than she will when we're sitting at the dinner table.

I've often wondered why that should be the case and assumed it was because there's little or no eye contact and we're physically facing away from each other. It somehow makes it more comfortable for her to reveal something, or perhaps ask a difficult question when she's not actually face to face with me.

The Teenager is also good at picking her moments, choosing car journeys to ask me things like "Can I invite 24 friends to my birthday party?" or "How old would I have to be before you'd let me go to a music festival?".  See, it's the non-confrontational body language that makes her more comfortable asking that sort of thing when we're driving.

So I was pleased to read some research that confirms I am in fact a genius my assumption is right and families do communicate more in the car.

The Secret Lives of Cars reveals why families talk more during car journeys and how we can use the time to share important information. It's an interesting subject, and one that many parents will find very revealing.

Of course, I also understand how to use car conversations to my advantage. They're the ideal time to ask questions they might otherwise try to wriggle out of.  If we're in the car, just one on one, it's private and there's no escape! Unless they want to dive, commando stylee out of the car door, but so far that hasn't happened. Phew!

Keeping your children talking to you, especially when they're teenagers, is always going to be hard so I don't mind where they choose do it it. Kitchen table or in the car, as long as they're still talking to me that's all that matters.

This post is sponsored by Allianz Your Cover Insurance