Driving In Cars With Boys

If your son is anything like my almost 17 year old, generally the most communication you get from them is a grunt or some mumbled response that you need a braille machine to decipher. Being an avid communicator I find this some what frustrating and a challenge to keep our connection strong and meaningful. Since I cannot talk with any indepth knowledge of the right body boarding conditions or what motor bike is the best, finding complimentary topics that interest us both and that don’t revolve around the mundane, has me wracking my brain for inspiration. 

Well I have discovered a new secret weapon. Driving! My son is clocking up his 100 hours which equates to plenty of one on one time in the car. In his book ‘Raising Boys’ Steve Biddulph  suggests that if you want to have meaningful conversations with boys then don’t sit them down in front of you and try and make eye contact and conversation. Too threatening. You are better off engaging in an activity where you can ‘work’ or ‘play’ side by side. They will be much more open to talking in this scenario. And of course learning to drive is the perfect example of this. 

While we have been negotiating the road rules and traffic we have talked about everything from girlfriends, his guy friends, school, dreams, religion, expectations, perfection, growing up, drugs and alcohol and of course body boards and motor bikes. It is not every time we get in the car but the topics seem to emerge organically. So as much as it can be a pain clocking up and keeping tabs on the hours, I am treasuring the time we are sharing. I finally feel as though our bond has strengthened again and I know him a little better.  

Soon the 100 hours will be up and he will be driving by his-self and in fact I will probably see less and less of him as he ventures out into the adult world. I hope that in retrospect he will value the time we spent driving in cars and will know he can come to me if ever he needs. It looks like I may have to take up body boarding so we can have some ‘ocean conversations’ too. 

Natalie Hennessey is creatrix of Spirited Women’s Network, an online directory and calendar of transformation workshops and events and Ruby Moon Dreaming, a one-on-one sistering business to assist women in rediscovering their sacred and sassy selves. 

13 Responses to Driving In Cars With Boys

  • Jeanne says:

    Hey Nat, I secretly loved my time with my son while he was learning to drive. Admittedly we did have a few barneys due to his actual driving skills, but like most of the time we engaged in a lot of great conversation. We also spent a lot of time singing together (we really rocked with Billy Joel)- so precious! He’s now moved away but we have a close bond he and I, and I think that year of driving with my boy had a lot to do with it. Enjoy it while it lasts. xx

  • Madonna says:

    Lovely post Natalie and a clever way to engage your son. Mine is 18 so I can truly relate to the grunting except when he wants something and then he calls me Mummy.

    • natalie says:

      Sometimes when I hear him talking to other people and when he is serving in his job I think “Who is that person”. He can be so articulate and social! They must save the special grunts for us. LOL

  • Sue Murphy says:

    This is such a good post Nat. Codys almost 15 so I’m not too far behind you and love hearing how you girls handle your teenage boys. They are so precious and not with us for a whole lot longer.
    You forgot to mention his driving. Is he good or are you having panic attacks every few km’s?
    Sue xx

    • natalie says:

      Hi Sue, they are precious and when I think of how delightful he was as a baby, I miss those days.
      He is an excellent driver. I think because he has done so much motor bike riding. No close calls but I have had to do the ‘watch what you are doing’ sometimes.

  • Chris Shana says:

    Hi Natalie, I am just beginning this journey with my 16 year old son, and did have this exact same thought. I am very grateful to be able to have this time with him after a few quite turbulent years and have found it pleasantly surprising how interesting and thoughtful he can be, aside from the grunting. While his father chooses not to be in his life, I have the pleasure of getting to know the beautiful young man I always new was in there. His loss, my gain. Not sure how well I will do with the girl next though, and another 3 boys after that.
    thanks for your post
    from my soul to yours
    with love
    Chris Shana

    • natalie says:

      For out Chris that is a lot of driving by the time you get through them all. My children’s father is in their lives but he only sees them twice a year. I call him the good time Dad, all the parenting left to me. Really all we want is for our boys to be happy, respectful and fulfilled. I just pray that how he was raised will get him through most things in life. Good on you for being a champion mum.

  • Liz See says:

    Thanks for a great post….as a mum to a 14 yr old boy (and the only female in a house of boys…husband, dog, bird haha) I have learnt to communicate with them and it is always best when they are doing something they love to do. So I may not be good at Xbox or I can’t ride a motorbike, I may not be a car lover but spend the days walking through car yards…..but those times are the ones with great memories that I would never change. I think they really are just an extension of all of us…..we all want to be understood and related to ….teenage boys are no different. X

    • natalie says:

      Yes Liz we find, adopt and accept what ever it is to keep the love and connection alive! I am also in a house full of testosterone now that my daughter is overseas. I find disappearing to the bedroom for some time out helps on occasions.

  • Me too Nat, I always used the journey to and from school to talk to my kids and more particularly my sons. My oldest son and I journeyed to WA together when he was 18 and took 3 weeks to come home we talked, sang, hooted, danced on the side of the road (long story lol), slept in the car, saw friends and have memories to last a lifetime> My younger son and I are doing the same thing you are now Nat getting up his 100 hours..

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