5 Indispensable Parenting Lessons Learned While Chauffeuring Kids Around

5 Indispensable Parenting Lessons Learned While Chauffeuring Kids Around

One mom discovers important parenting moments while driving her kids around.

By Judy Koutsky

Confession: I didn’t learn how to drive until I became a mom. Growing up in a family with six kids, I never got a turn with the family car (I was fifth in line, so my siblings always had the upper hand). In college, I didn’t need one and I moved to New York City, where nobody had a car. Then in quick succession, I got married, had kids, moved to the suburbs and bought my first vehicle. Little did I know that chauffeuring my kids around would teach me some valuable mom lessons. Here, five things I learned about parenting while spending so much time in the car.

1. Creativity is a great tool. As any parent knows, it’s important to think on your feet when your child has a meltdown, or your kids get into a big fight. If this happens when you’re driving, it’s even more important to come up with a solution (because driving with yelling kids is just about the biggest safety hazard I’ve yet experienced). So I’ve learned to be creative in a moment’s notice. When my kids veer toward the dark side, I quickly come up with games. One of our favorites? Try and find a lady on the street without a purse -- a truly hard game, and one the kids love.

2. It’s better to deal with things immediately. When my kids do something really naughty in the car, like say a bad word or hit the other on the head with a hard object (like a book), I have two choices. Stop the car and having a teaching moment right now or keep driving and deal with the situation later. I’ve learned it’s almost always better to pull over and deal with it. Even if it means being late to the party or play date. That way, they know it’s unacceptable behavior that needs immediate consequence and I’m nipping it before it can escalate.

3. Talk to the kids without the pressure of talking to the kids. Ask my kids directly “How’s school” or “What did you do today?” and they clam up. Instead, while driving my oldest to soccer or my youngest to a party, I can casually ask, “If an alien were to come down and take two kids from your class, who would it be?” This can help you find out whether your child is having problems with anyone in school. Or as we’re talking about the leaves changing colors, I’ll say to my son, “I used to press leaves into books at school when I was a kid. What are some of the things you guys do at school?” I find that talking, without making eye contact and using a casual tone, can elicit the best responses.

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4. Love can be educational. My kids and I came up with a game in the car that shows who loves whom more. My son will say, “I love you more than India.” Then, I’ll say “I love you more than Africa.” Then he’ll say, “I love you more than Mars.” We go back and forth finding larger and larger items. It’s a geography, social studies, and science lesson all in one.

5. Families work better as teams. Because I started driving so late in life, I often ask the kids to help me navigate. When I’m backing out, changing lanes, or parking, they’ll let me know if I’m too close to the car or if it’s all clear. I usually know the answer ahead of time, but I always ask their input or advice, so they feel important. They feel helpful and part of the family team.


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What have you learned while chauffeuring your kids around?

Judy Koutsky is the former Editorial Director of KIWI magazine, a green parenting publication. She was also Executive Editor of Parenting.com, AOL Parent and BabyTalk.com. Follow her on Twitter @JudyKoutsky.

Image ©iStock.com/digitalskillet

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