How to Connect with Your Child in the Car Pool Lane
I am Car Pool Queen … but it’s a disputable title!
As school is well underway, I have plopped on my crown as the personal Car Pool Queen for Lexi and Autumn Gresh. Soccer practice, soccer games, voice lessons, birthday parties, play rehearsal, and “just one more thing” on the school supply list. I might as well put my desk in the passenger seat beside me. And here’s the deal: it’s not my favorite part of being a mom. In fact, until I did the research for my just-released book, Six Ways To Keep The Little In Your Girl, I was convinced it was one part of mothering I could let moms who liked it do for me. (I would bake cookies, host parties, suffer the sleepovers … just don’t sign me up for car pool!) Boy, did some straight scoop fix my heart. Lean in and listen because I’ve got some encouragement and ideas for you if driving car pool has driven you nuts in the past.
Here’s the deal: 67 percent of tween girls say that “having a lot of friends” is among the top three factors that give them confidence. But — here’s where it gets tricky — somewhere between the ages of 8–12, many girls tend to feel strongly that Mom should not be involved in friendships or help select them. In fact, 67 percent say Mom should never be involved, and 21 percent say “it depends.” Only 12 percent say Mom should be involved in friendships and help select them. (Thank your daughter today if she’s in that small but wise minority!) Boys are a little less in tune with their moms being around, but what I’m about to share matters to them, too!
This is no small issue to be tackled. The Bible teaches that, “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm” (Proverbs 13:20). The friends your kids hang with will make or break them!
Driving car pool is a great way to do research on your kids. As you keep the volume on your radio turned down, you can really tune in to the generally unfiltered interaction of friends. You learn who burps loudest, who’s the meanest teacher, and who has a boyfriend. Just enjoy and learn. God will guide you in how to use this … ah … “intelligence” later on.
And while it really is the journey and not the destination that counts, you may learn a lot at the destination, as well. Sitting on the sidelines of a soccer match or munching on fries at McDonald’s with the Bible quiz team just might turn out to be the wisest investment of time a mom can make. After all, it was with my Car Pool Queen crown on that I sat at Denny’s at midnight just two years ago, witnessing the shocking conversation of my 14-year-old Lexi and her cussing, sexually open-minded young friend. I, with the exception of my faithful friend Kim Helsel, was the only mom forgoing sleep to “carpool” that night. I’m so glad I was there. I didn’t interfere much with Lexi’s gentle but firm defense of abstinence, but I was able to follow up with her later on and encourage her.
Oh, guess what? I just got a text from Lexi. It reads, “Would you be able to pick Alex and I up from Emily’s birthday tonight at 11?” (I’m not even kidding. Does God have a sense of humor?) So much for a Friday night off! “Should Parents Decide if You Can—or Can’t—Be Friends with Someone?” Discovery Girls, December/January 2008, 20.