A few months ago I was contemplating making a big change to our family routine—one that involved a whole lot of driving, with the kids.
I hate driving. I fantasize about moving somewhere where I can sell my car and walk everywhere. For now, we’ve deliberately chosen to live near what we do. We love staying close to home.
And yet—we were thinking about it. I thought the end result might be worth it, but I couldn’t see any upside to the actual driving part.
It was a big decision, so I turned to some friends for advice. The most surprising feedback came from a friend whose life is structured quite differently from mine. She lives in farm country and spends hours and hours in the car each week, driving herself and her kids around.
When I told her we were contemplating a change—and the driving it required—I expected sympathy, or a are you sure? But she didn’t hesitate: That’s golden time, she said. I have my best conversations with my kids in the car.
She went on to explain that if her kids are ever going to pour out their souls, they’re going to do it in the car. My friend had theories: they were a little bit distracted, there was no pressure, they didn’t have to look her in the eye. She wasn’t sure about the why, but she was sure their family’s quality car talk was a real thing.
I was reminded of this the other day when I listened to Seth Godin talk about why he makes his family dinner every night. He explained that there’s nothing like a relaxed, semi-distracted environment to promote low-stakes but important conversations with the people that matter to you. It’s an environment that builds trust and encourages truth-telling.
There’s a misconception that life’s important events—and conversations—look like Big Moments. But so many of my life’s meaningful moments—including the Big Conversations—have zero fireworks or fanfare. Instead, they unfold on a walk, or at the kitchen counter, or in the car.
As for my family: we made the change. We’re driving a lot. And we’re having lots of good conversations in the car. It’s not the non-stop meaningful sappy sharing hour, by any means; sometimes we just listen to the radio. But it’s a safe space for my kids to talk about what’s on their minds—and they’re talking.
Where do the important conversations and meaningful moments unfold in YOUR life? I’d love to hear your thoughts on fireworks and fanfare and cars and kitchen counters in comments.