The Ride Along Lifestyle


Impress the commandments on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.– Deuteronomy 6:7.

A ride-along is when a civilian rides along with a police officer, to learn more about the job.  If you want to know what police work is really like, a ride-along puts you in the front seat.  Want your kids to know what real life – adult life – is like?  Put them in the car with you.

Whether you’re homeschooling, have the kids home all day for summer vacation, or just drag one or two victims along for errands on evenings and weekends . . . bring them with you.

And I don’t mean buried in digital devices to keep them entertained, though I’m a fan of the electronic entertainers when I need a rest from hosting the Mom Channel 24/7.  But kids need to ride-along with eyes wide open, because they need to see you being an adult.  They need to see how you handle the obnoxious lady in customer service, how you fill out your deposit slip, how you rush down to city hall to pay the water bill at the last minute because you forgot, again, and then you finally set up auto-pay to spare the family another scramble next month.

That’s one part of the ride-along, the teaching by example.  The other benefit?  The moments when our children sit by our sides, cruising through traffic, doing nothing at all.

For homeschoolers, it is tempting to feel that every minute of the school day has to be filled with formal “educational” activities.  I have had friends who successfully car-schooled as they crisscrossed town, traveling from one extracurricular activity to the next.  Inspired by that example, a few years ago, I purchased some second-hand educational CD’s, so I could make the most of our errand time.  A month later, we sold the car with the CD player, and my new truck had just a bare-bones radio.  Oops.  The CD’s gathered dust.  And the strangest thing happened: I started talking to my kids.

What do we talk about?  Everything.  They want to know how debit cards work, how you pronounce N-A-U-S-E-A, what I thought of so-and-so’s outfit . . . if it’s on their mind, it comes out in the car.  I don’t have to plan a talk on the 6th Commandment; sooner or later the kids will ask me about this relative who got divorced, or that friend who had a baby before she was married.  Yes, these difficult topics are also mentioned at the appropriate time in the curriculum for religion, and science, and social studies;  but when they really want to know the answer?  That’s when they’ll remember it.

Do you have “nothing” planned for this summer?  Are your kids “missing out” because you don’t have the budget for clubs and camps and lessons?  Good for you!  Next time you’re doing your same old adult stuff, bring along one or two or the whole crew, and give your kids a real-world education.

Copyright 2012 Jennifer Fitz


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  1. I totally agree with this idea. I have 4 children and I take them everywhere with me. You are right they ask so many questions in the van! Education happens everywhere when they are not distracted by electronics!! Great article.

  2. Lori — thanks for the feedback! I thought as I was writing, “well, yes, this is all so obvious . . .” but at the same time, I think as moms we can feel like we’re “doing nothing” if we don’t have a lot of formal activities (at home or elsewhere) planned. I think it’s good for all of us to have the periodic reminder that just being there on-call is the biggest part of what we do as parents.

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