Go Ask Mom

Go Ask Mom

Amanda Lamb: Car talk

Posted September 9, 2013

“How was your day?”


“Who did you play with?” I ask my youngest daughter.

“Lots of people. Oh, Mom, you know what happened on the playground today?” And for the next five minutes she tells me a very detailed, socially nuanced story about how certain people aren’t playing together well.

Car talk. No, not the popular show about car repair on NPR, but talking in the car with your kids. Recently, I’ve discovered this is a great place to connect with my children whether I am driving them to school or ferrying them from one activity to another.

I think the car is a good forum because it allows them to speak without having to make eye contact — this makes it easier for them to talk about more serious subjects without the fear of your immediate facial reaction.

As parents, it also gives us the opportunity to seem casual when asking them questions. This is particularly helpful when I am really probing a situation, but don’t want to come across as prying.

I had the opportunity to drive a group of teenagers home the other night from an outing. Mostly, I listened to their banter as I pretended to be concentrating on the song on the radio. But, eventually, I saw an opportunity to weigh in on what turned out to be a conversation about the pros and cons of 13-year-old boys. Then the tables turned…

“How did you meet your husband?”

“How did you get engaged?”

“How did you know he was the one?”

They came at me in a barrage of words, each sentence spilling over the other one in a way that only excited 13-year-old girls can master. I answered each one, and then asked them about their parents’ history, which they gladly shared.

“So did you date anyone seriously before your husband?” I heard a lone voice in the back of the dark car ask me as we hurtled down I-40 towards home.

Game over, I decided. Time to turn up the radio …

Amanda is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including three on motherhood. Find her here on Mondays.


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  • lec02572 Sep 10, 2013

    Funny. Listening is ok, but when you participate you should expect anything.

  • Killian Sep 10, 2013

    Oooh yeah. My kids used to hit me with some of the best/worst questions when I was driving because they knew I couldn't escape! =) They would hear something at school, laugh with everyone else so they didn't seem out of place, and then ask me about it on the ride home.

    Some of their bigger ones: "What's an alcoholic, and why does Pop-Pop want to be one?" (*ouch*) "What's the difference between a sl*t, a wh*re, and a prostitute?" (That one almost made me drive off the road!) And others that I really wish they hadn't heard at school, which I won't repeat here!

  • hsiflee Sep 9, 2013

    snowl...Hope you are not the driver of the vehicle.

  • snowl Sep 9, 2013

    Nope. I know we've discussed this before somehow Amanda. My kids and I did not talk in the car because of my severe motion sickness. We made up for it at home because we lived in a small ranch house with an open floor plan! No where to hide!

  • jabbo22 Sep 9, 2013

    I miss "car talks"! They practically ended after my girls got their licenses. But now they are back to wanting me to drive and they have resumed--when they are in town. And only now that they are in college did I answer the question about past serious relationships! :) Love reading your column Amanda!

  • Obamacare for everyone Sep 9, 2013

    “So have you dated anyone seriously after your husband?”

  • baldchip Sep 9, 2013

    Amanda-great column.

    In Dr. David Jeremiah's book" Exposing the Myths of Parenthood",
    he talks about the old fight of quantity time vs. quality time with children. His premise is that parents must have quantity to build the relationship and opportunities for the quality time. Amanda-you were doing that quite well.

    Raising children in today's world is a real challenge. Getting help from teachers, Sunday School teachers, Church Youth leaders, and Scout leaders are all big helps. Ultimately, kids are watching parents all the time, plus they know what their piers parents are about. If Jane's parents live together without being married or are same sex partners, most kids know. That raises more questions and challenges for parents.

    Talk to them-listen to them. God placed them in our care for a reason!! If a parent is having trouble, find help!! It's available.

    And, be the best you can be. Success breeds more success!!

  • WorkinMom Sep 9, 2013

    I am glad someone else feels the same way I talk is where I get the REAL story. More and more I find that parenting is about seizing spontaneous opportunities to connect. I also seem to get valuable conversation while braiding my daughter's hair...

  • JAT Sep 9, 2013

    We have some of our best talks in the car, too!