Want to talk to your kids? Stick them in the car.
That’s the word-for-word headline atop a recent post on Driving, a Canadian web site that also believes lowering speed limits in cities — you know, those places where kids and parents walk — is “an exercise in futility,” because drivers.
Both columns were penned by the same writer, Lorraine Sommerfeld, who among many other things suggests that “allowing” people to cross the street is a good way to teach courtesy. But the gist of her advice boils down to: “The family vehicle might be the single best place to talk to your kids, when you’re all held captive.”
Take it away, Family Friendly Cities:
While maintaining the attention of your child long enough to talk to them is a challenge for any parent, we shouldn’t be accepting of an environment built so poorly that we have to hold our children ‘captive’ in a car in order to talk to them.
Let’s ignore the fact that attempting to seriously engage your child in a thought provoking conversation is another distraction while hurdling a two ton piece of metal through space while risking the lives of others. Accepting that the car is the best place to engage, learn, and understand your child is disturbing … Children were meant to run, jump, play, or [engage in] just about any other form of movement that doesn’t include being restrained inside an automobile. The same can be said for how they learn about their environment and how, as parents, we teach, engage and converse with them.
Children learn nothing about the world at 30 mph. They cannot feel the world, they cannot smell it, and they certainly aren’t moving slow enough to experience all of its nuances. Unless a child’s parent happens to be a Picasso with words, talking to them about the world while captive in a car will do very little to expand their experiences with the real world.
We should probably add that health experts say car crashes are the leading cause of death for Canadian children. Auto collisions are a leading cause of child mortality in the U.S., with more than 9,000 kids age 12 and under killed in the last 10 years, according to the CDC. All things considered, it could be that rearing from the rearview mirror isn’t the best idea.
Elsewhere on the Network: The League of American Bicyclists has a new report on equity of access to cycling infrastructure, and nextSTL analyzes the difference between “urban” and “suburban” in St. Louis.