Are We There Yet?
This little family road trip question has become so iconic, that it’s become common fodder for comic routines and movie scripts. I would imagine that this travel question has been around as long as families have been traveling. It’s probably a good thing that all of Noah’s sons were full-grown, or Mr. and Mrs. Noah may have ended up sinking the boat.
Think about the Israelite’s trek through the wilderness. After crossing the Red Sea, they got to the edge of the Promised Land quite quickly, but because they didn’t trust God and refused to go in, God sent them on a forty-year road trip. The idea was that all of the adults who refused to believe, were to die before their children would be allowed in. Can you imagine the conversation, “Are we there yet? Am I dead yet?”
I’ve always wondered why the Israelites didn’t understand that God wanted to have a relationship with them. Moses was the leader but he wasn’t supposed to be the only one talking to God. Instead of whining and complaining, why not call a prayer meeting and ask God just how they were going to conquer a land full of giants and well-fortified cities. They had God’s presence right there, represented by a huge cloud, so you’d think that a little more conversation and a little less groaning would have been a better idea.
Out of that story comes the parenting advice key that we need to solve the age old problem of, “Are we there yet?’ When our kid’s under developed ability to understand time and distance starts to affect the small amount of patience and attention span they have, they can respond in two ways. Like the Israelites, they can start whining and complaining, or they can start a conversation with you.
If they choose to do the right thing, you’ll most likely hear the dreaded four-letter question. Here’s how to turn it into a positive experience.
View the question not as an irritant but as your child doing the right thing and opening up a dialogue with you. Grab the opportunity to not only engage in conversation and strengthen your relationships but to teach your children about conversation.
Children don’t learn conversational skills by osmoses, we need to teach them. The reason they ask the same question over and over is because they want information from you and interaction with you (that’s conversation) but the only conversational tool they have is the basic ‘question.’
Try this, first make sure you explain (very simply) where you are going and how they’ll know when you’re there. Then ask them if they understand. Now that the answer is out of the way, continue the conversation. Ask them how they’re feeling, or about the backseat activities their involved in, etc. As the conversation moves forward, praise them for starting a conversation and for what conversational skills they are practicing well. Then give them a tip about how to get better like, don’t use one word answers and here’s a beauty, don’t ask the same question twice.
Each time you do this, you’ll find that after awhile, your child will feel satisfied that they are included, that they’ve gotten some of your attention and they’ll return to their quiet activities. If the same question comes up again, remind them of their wonderful conversational skills and help them find another question with which to start a conversation with you. Then follow through with more conversation.
Road trips and questions like “Are we there yet,” are actually great opportunities for teaching our children skills that will benefit them their whole life. It will also make your family trips more pleasant as you grow closer to your children.
If you’re looking for a great Christian family resource to help make the travel time more pleasant and help your children learn more about their faith, check out the best selling ‘Singing Bible.’
It has been highly recommended by thousands of parents for use in the car.
(RICK OSBORNE / Christian Author, Speaker & Dad – your source for Christian Parenting advice)
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