We just dropped off our rental car at The Southampton, UK airport.
In England, they drive on the left side of the road. I live in France and in the US where we drive “normally” (!!!), that is on the right side.
I had been apprehending this automotive experience, imagining the trail of accidents I would leave behind due to being in the wrong lane at the wrong time.
To add further spice to our adventure, we rented a manual shift car…and stalled while exiting the car-rental parking lot. “Mom, are you SURE you can handle this?” my sons inquired.
23 hours later, I glided into our allotted car-return spot and breathed freely once again. Family and car were safe and sound. Our memories and confidence shine with robust.
It was hard.
WE MADE IT!!!!
Enjoy these precious parenting tips gleaned from our exotic automotive adventure:
- Enlist Help. My weakness contributed to our combined strength.
- Our focus determines our action plan. Look to the problems leads to fear-full measures. Aim for the goal stimulates a solution-finding approach.
- Overcoming challenges builds, rather BOOSTS, confidence.
Boost Confidence: Be weak to let others be strong
I made NO pretense about confidence. I had a teeny amount.
If we could each contribute our small portion of confidence to the common pool, we could have enough…
“Boys, we can include a special adventure in our trip which would require driving. I’m scared and would need your help. Are you up for it?”
Warmed by the children’s encouragement, I reserved the car.
We then created two driver-assistant roles:
- The navigator who would help identify the route to follow so that I could focus on the road.
- The left-side driver coach who would remind me to stay in the correct lane!
Both guides proved vital.
Of course I still missed multiple turns and took us on detours. Some scenic detours. Some traffic-filled delays. No big deal.
An unexpected difficulty superseded what I had anticipated as the greatest challenge. I had feared swerving into the wrong lane.
Instead ended up driving off the road, sometimes barely missing cars parked on the left hand side! This dilemma, the problem that had not even occurred to me, ended up being our greatest challenge.
We sure benefited from those warnings:
“Mom, careful of the parked cars! You almost ran into it!!!” How embarrassing.
“Mom, you’ve passed the white line and are driving off the side of the road…That was the sidewalk you hit.” Oops.
“When they drive on the left, aren’t the slower traffic lanes on the left too? At your speed, are you where you should be…?” Feeling like beginner driver.
None of these comments bespoke, “Shining Star.” or “Wonder Mom.” They all communicated, “Mom, we love you AND we are with you.”
Boost Confidence: Focus on the Goal, not the Barriers
Courage, willingness to take risks, and foresight are qualities I seek to encourage in my children.
This driving adventure created an opportunity for me to model these qualities for my children.
They hear about them all the time. This time, I could speak of their importance through actions, not merely with words.
One of our sons gets discouraged by academic challenges. When he encounters a difficult math problem, he stops.
“Did you ask your teacher? Could you get help from a friend?” I inquire with the most positive intent. He senses my concern and it feels like pressure to him.
My attempt to encourage backfires. Instead my child returns to his math homework, repeats his mistakes, and gives up anew. It’s like he reinvests in his losing strategy.
I wonder if he believes “Smart people don’t ask for help.” It’s an incorrect belief. And it’s bringing him down.Does my child believe that “Smart people don’t ask for help.” It’s false. And it’s debilitating. Click To Tweet
He and I converse about this. And there is a time to stop talking (Now!) or I too would be reinvesting in my losing strategy!
This driving challenge provided the opportunity to model the behavior I seek in him. I could speak through actions instead of with words. Through a fun adventure I showed how
- To set a worthwhile goal that reaches beyond the comfort zone
- To identify potential challenges
- To secure help to overcome them
- To celebrate victories!!!
Boost Confidence by Overcoming Challenges
While standing in line at the airport, I smilingly confessed, “I’m proud of myself. I did something difficult”…
In unison, the boys interrupted me to complete the sentence: “AND YOU SUCCEEDED!”
In fact, we succeeded together and, thanks to the rented car and the additional flexibility it provided, we were able to visit Stonehenge, one of the great prehistoric sites…located deep in the English countryside.