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The Secret Sauce of Road Trips

Long car rides might be the secret sauce for connecting with your child.

When I was going through a particularly rough patch with my teenage son, my friend Sally suggested taking a road trip. At first, I thought this was strange advice, but she was right.

There is something about riding side-by-side, both eyes forward in a car which allows space and freedom for your child to open up. Having an opportunity to truly connect is vital for parents. This is especially true during the teen years when emotions run high and a simple, “How are you?” can come across as a loaded question.

Sally was brilliant when she suggested a road trip. The journey doesn’t have to be far, but trips can be a wonderful chance to come together with your child. Traveling with your child may be educational, career exploring, cultural or fun. There are so many travel opportunities in high school with college visits, concerts, museums, or an activity related to your child’s passions. Set an intention to spend some time away with your child as a way to pour into your relationship.

I remember driving home from a time in the mountains with my son. Somehow, we wandered onto the topic of college applications and plans for the future. I asked my child how he was feeling about the whole process as it was unfolding. Then I did a miraculous thing, I shut up and listened.

My son poured out what was on his heart. He shared how much he doubted his abilities. How he saw older family members that had it together and how he could never be like them. He talked about how his dad and I appeared to be perfect people and that he was sure to disappoint us. He felt inadequate when he compared himself to all of his peers, who came across as so much smarter than he was. He was unsure he could do college well.

My son was right, and he was wrong. In the position from where he sat, it did appear that his dad and I had it all together. What he didn’t know is how much we, as parents, struggle too. He didn’t see how many mistakes we still make all the time. He didn’t know how much all his friends and family members, myself included, have to wrestle with constant doubts and fears. I assured him none of us are perfect people, but we can trust a perfect Savior.

From that day on, I reminded myself my child needed to see my examples of failures, equally as much as the successes. What he needed to see was that we mess up often and we have to seek forgiveness from God and from each other.

Our children need us to show them what it looks like to make mistakes, ask forgiveness, and move forward. They need to know their parents are human and still have doubts and fears about life. They need to see our model what to do with those screw-ups, doubts, and fears by giving them to God and asking for forgiveness.

Homeschooling well isn’t simply picking out academics, courses, books, and activities. All of those things are important. The richer, deeper education is how we are encouraging our kids and families to follow hard after Jesus all of the days of their life. It is important to show them how you struggle with difficult things, yet still seek the Lord’s face. Our kids need to know we are not perfect people, but we serve a perfect God.


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