Get a group of suburban parents together and you’re bound to hear grousing about the time they spend behind the wheel chauffeuring their kids around.

I have a secret for you: It’s the best place to learn about what your kids are thinking and feeling. Somehow, my sons seem to forget that I’m in the car with them and their friends. It’s as though there is Plexiglas between the front and back seats. I admit, I absolutely love to eavesdrop on their conversations. What girl they have a crush on, which girl they think has a crush on them, which boy causes trouble in the lunch room, who plays the bully at recess and so on. I get so much more insight into the rhythms of their day than I do when I ask them, “So, how was school today?”

It also seems to go both ways. I’ve noticed as my kids get older, we do most of our serious talking when I’m driving them somewhere. For example, the other day, both my kids (ages 7 and 9) were asking me questions about the facts of life—in detail. We’ve also covered what G-D looks like, where do people go when they die, how do you find someone to marry and more. It could be that the car is just where they think of these touchy topics. But I also think they feel less threatened and are more willing to ask difficult questions when my attention isn’t directly focused on them. Whatever the reason, I cherish my role as chauffeur.

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