Having Trouble Talking to Your Teen: Try the Car!
By: Beth McHugh 2008
How common is it to have a problem with some aspect of your teen’s behavior and be told to sit down and have a good heart-to-heart with them? And how often has it ended in a screaming match and a series of slammed doors?
Well, if it wasn’t common I wouldn’t be writing this article! It is important to talk to your growing teen about difficulties you are experiencing with them. Yet even with all the best intentions, it can be very frustrating if not outright difficult to do so. But it must be done if anything is to be resolved and some sort of harmony is to be reinstated in the family home.
One of the best places to conduct a heart-to-heart is in the family car. Now the trusty Toyota has many benefits that a bedroom or a King Arthur-style round dining table cannot offer. The car is mobile and you can drive your troubled teen to a quiet place; preferably a park, or ideally, near a river or other body of water. Water makes for increased calmness but so too does the green of trees and green grass. Of course, a park with a body of water is the place of choice. But do not be tempted to get out of the car, at least till the issue at hand is resolved.
The car is a very familiar place– like a home away from home, so sensitive subjects can be brought up away from the interruptions and overfamiliarity of the family home, yet with the comforting reassurance of the family car. A car also offers some form of privacy if tears or tantrums should emerge, not to mention a box of tissues in the glove box.
Studies have shown that conversations that occur in nature yet within the secure confines of a car are more likely to succeed than those that take place within the family home itself. It also works for marital difficulties for the same reason. The calming presence of nature combined with the security of your own “little house” can make those difficult subjects both easier to broach and easier to resolve.