Kids and Parents Bond Best in Car

When it comes to bonding with your kids, perhaps you should take a road trip to get the lowdown on what’s going on in their minds? As our motoring journalist and dad-of-three, Tim Barnes-Clay, reports, taking a drive with your offspring could help get them talking.


It seems that more kids are likely to open up to you if you’re a mum or dad, if a recent study is to be believed. According to the research, 54 more per cent of youngsters are more likely to come clean about things going on at school, as well as any issues with friends, when you’re behind the wheel.


I know it’s true for me. I’m lucky to get a word out of my daughter at home, but when we’re driving somewhere, we often end up having quite deep conversations. Indeed, the study showed that over half of parents feel their child is easier to chat with in the car because there are no other interruptions, while four in 10 people believe it’s because they’re not under a condemnatory stare at the time of the one-to-one. A third of parents also confess that they find it easier to have a tête-à-tête with their young ones when driving, particularly about delicate subjects, like the ‘birds and the bees’. One in 10 concerned mothers and fathers have even gone on a car journey deliberately in a bid to get their son or daughter to shoot the breeze with them.


The survey of 2,000 parents was carried out by Renault, and looks into the significance of family time in the car as a place of storytelling and straightforward discussions. Dr Linda Papadopolous is a family psychologist, and speaking on behalf of Renault, she commented: “This research suggests that the car journey can be a really important time for families, as for some it can be the only time where a conversation can take place with very little distraction.”


Dr Papadopolous added:  “Based on the findings of the study, it appears that parents feel that their children are more comfortable addressing deeper and more meaningful issues if they’re not under the spotlight – if mum or dad are focused on the road they can’t be under their watchful gaze, and sometimes this can make it easier to open up. And given the fact most parents are driving their children around more than eight times a week, this means families have plenty of time to talk.”


The analysis uncovers a catalogue of the top ten ‘car confessions’ from kids – which involves 22 per revealing they hadn’t done very well in a test and the same ratio admitting to getting into trouble with a teacher. Fourteen per cent of youngsters have communicated with their folks in the car that they had neglected to do their homework, and one in 10 divulged that they’d had a detention for doing something wrong. Another 10 per cent of kids acknowledged that they were concerned about a change to their body, while eight per cent have quizzed their mums and dads about the ‘birds and the bees’. Alas, 12 per cent of schoolchildren have talked to their parents while motoring along that they’ve been bullied, while 13 per cent made known they thought nobody liked them, and a third of youths have discussed friendship worries.


Over a third of parents asked, think their talks with their offspring are far more frank in the car than any other place. And six in 10 parents say it occasionally helps not having to look their youngster in the eye when thrashing out more sensitive issues. A quarter of mums and dads state they are less likely to react if their offspring confesses to being in trouble when motoring, and one in five parents say they think their child is more open to having a serious-minded discussion because they can’t instantly be banished to their room. A third of those interviewed, say their kids can conceal little in the car, which makes sensitive or embarrassing talks easier to handle. Just over a third of parents say they listen more when in their motor with the kids, as there are no other disruptions. And therefore, 31 per cent of folks feel more clued in on their children’s favourite music and TV programmes after a car journey. What’s more, 22 per cent feel they know more about children’s friends.


22 per cent of youngsters are more at ease talking about family issues when in the car, while over a quarter are more likely to chat about their school worries. What happened with a boyfriend or girlfriend, puberty issues and bullying fears are all topics which are more regularly brought up in the car than in any other place. While some folks find it easier to talk to their kids about homework, and tackling queries about the world in general.

Top Ten Car Admissions

1. Something happening in a friendship at school

2. They didn’t do very well in a test

3. They had been naughty at school / got into trouble with a teacher

4. They forgot to do some homework

5. They accidentally hurt someone in the playground

6. They thought no-one liked them

7. They were being bullied

8. They were worried about a change in their body

9. They wanted to know more about the birds and the bees

10. They got a detention for something

Top Ten Easier in the Car Chats

1. What happened at school that day

2. Trouble with friends

3. Whether they are enjoying school

4. Family issues

5. Homework

6. Questions about the world in general

7. Getting into trouble at school

8. What happened with a girlfriend / boyfriend

9. Growing pains / puberty

10. Bullying