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Family Dynamics

Car Conversations With Our Kids

Personal Perspective: Having weekly family time in a less conventional setting.

According to Shira Offer (“Family Time Activities and Adolescents' Emotional Well‐Being” in The Journal of Marriage and Family), family leisure time is shown to be beneficial to teens' well‐being.

When I gave birth to my eldest daughter, I pictured all of the family rituals that would take place as my children grew up:

  • Board game nights
  • Summer trips to the lake
  • Cozy bedtime stories
  • And, of course, nightly family dinners

Well, then life happened.

Those seedling ideas of traditions grew and were replaced by new and often quirky routines that have helped to color the fabric of our family.

The one ritual that did fall to the wayside was, however, nightly family dinners. Life during the week was often too hectic; between balancing everyone’s work and school schedules, eating together was just not a priority.

This idea was replaced with something that we have found to be equally awesome: weekly family car adventures.

Many Sundays, we get our family into the car, snacks (and coffee for me) in hand, and go on “an adventure.” It honestly doesn’t matter where we are going, we have found. Sure, the actual destination makes the whole activity more fun (who doesn’t love a trip to the beach?), but the memories that stick out most in my mind are the car rides themselves and the talks that accompany them.

Being in such close proximity to each other, without the distractions of technology, physical space, or anything else besides each other’s company and the visual landscape of the scenery outside the car windows, makes for the best conversations that we have had as a family.

In these moments, I have learned so many things about my children that they hadn’t shared during the week. Thoughts, worries, opinions, new inventions, ways that they want to change the world.

It doesn’t matter if we are unable to stop somewhere (which has happened during rainy or freezing weather). It’s the physical and emotional togetherness of this type of activity that fosters a sense of adventure and connectedness.

So why not give it a try? Just don’t forget the snacks (and coffee.)

More from Lauren Brukner MS, OTR/L
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