If you’re a parent, you know how difficult it can be to get your kids to open up to you. Especially when they reach those tender tween-to-teen years when suddenly anyone above or below their immediate age group becomes the subject of suspicion and mistrust.
We’ve all been here. Even the most beleaguered parent understands that simply throwing up your hands and declaring “Kids will be kids” isn’t good enough. Getting your kids to talk to you about the problems they’re facing and the emotional upheaval they’re experiencing is critical to giving your child the kind of support that they need and helping them make the kinds of life decisions that will benefit them greatly in the long run.
But short of hogtying your child and giving them a dose of truth serum, is there really any effective method of breaking through the ice and finding out what’s going on in their private lives?
If you’re of a mind to hunt high and low for the best advice, there’s good news. Parents these days have the kinds of resources that those of earlier generations would have done backflips over. There are innumerable online organizations and trusted parenting experts that post free, daily updated advice to coach parents on some of the more delicate aspects of raising their kids. Even news organizations like CNN have gotten in on it, answering the overwhelming demand from parents for helpful resources. But while these and many other credible sources can be highly educational, there still exists that final, impenetrable barrier: the child unwilling to talk.
What then? Glad you asked.
Of all of the approaches you may not have yet tried, there exists one that has proven to yield some rather astonishing results. No, it doesn’t involve truth serum or secret Vulcan neck pinches or installing spy-cams in your kids’ backpacks. It’s something called chauffeuring. And as any taxi driver throughout the world can tell you, backseat passengers sometimes have an uncanny way of forgetting all about the stranger behind the wheel and spilling their deepest, darkest secrets.
To test it out, offer to drive your kids and their friends someplace. It may be an inconvenience to do so and you may have to shuffle a few things around in your busy schedule, but give it a shot. (Tip: the longer the drive, the better.) Quietly insert yourself into the driver’s seat, strap in, and listen. Odds are, you may be amazed at the things you’ll overhear your child and their friends discussing. Issues and life events they’d never bring up to you while in a one-on-one conversation will come floating to the surface and the kind of honesty you’ve been aching to hear will come flowing out in buckets.
But before you finish reading this article, there’s one thing to bear in mind. In your undercover assignment as invisible driver, it’s imperative that you do nothing other than listen. At least for the time being, and until you’ve had a chance to digest what your ears have suddenly become privy to. Do your best not to react and don’t blow your cover! If you do, you might tip your kids off to your ruse and you may never get another chance.
Have you ever taken this approach to listening in on your kids’ secret life? What have you learned by taking the stealth approach? Got any advice for the newbie first stepping into the role of invisible driver? Tell us your experiences by sharing your personal stories in the box below – we’d love to hear all about it!