More than just Listening

by Belinda Letchford

We live a little bit out of town on a farm and over the years we have spent many hours in the car together.  Our town is in a remote part of Australia and though we have a airport we have often driven 10 hours to the closest capital city to catch a plane from there – many more hours in the car.  I have done a lot of talking and training with my kids in the car.  When they were young we worked on self control and kindness (read here – don’t hit your brother/sister even though you are tired!)  As they get older the conversation topics change but being in the car for either a short trip to town, or a long day trip there is always opportunity to talk about God and his goodness and His purposes for us, there is opportunity to talk about heart stuff and of course there is opportunity to be silly and just have fun!

Another thing that happens in our car is that we listen to a lot of music.  As I look back over the years we have used music as the starting point for a lot of discussions.

  • Colin Buchanan was our children’s favourites when they were young.  They learnt the 10 Commandments and many other memory verses from listening to ‘Colin’.  In fact these days when the scriptures get read in church they have to hold back the urge to sing the little ditty that matches the verses being read.  Colin also sings good doctrine – I remember a day the car broke down and we had to walk 1.5k (in town shoes!!) on dusk with 3 little children.  I had Nomi in my arms, Jess at 4 following and Josh at 5.5 bringing up the rear.   There was this huge storm cloud building – lots of thunder and lightening and it was a little scary.  (This was the days before the mobile phone so I couldn’t phone anyone!!)  I was praying that we would get home before the storm broke.  From the back Josh piped up and said, “Do you know why that storm is there?” To be honest I wasn’t really wanting to hear what he had been thinking because his mind often thinks of the oddest things and I was focused on getting everyone home but I said, “Why Josh?”  He replied – “God put that storm there to give us light.  Nothing takes God by surprise.”  WOW  – out of the mouth of babes.  Yes, God had put that storm there to give us light for when we arrived at the house the storm completely dissipated – gone!  Nothing takes God by surprise was something one of Colin’s songs teaches.
  • Judy Rogers has also had a few cd’s that have given us opportunity to talk to our children’s hearts.  Go to the Ant was all about work ethics – her lyrics became a part of our family vocab.  Her Walking Wise has given our older children many things to think about – how do we line up the word of God in our everyday lives, do we please our friends or God, how do we dress and what is the focus our heart or fashion.
  • Hymns are not necessarily in favour with young people these days but we introduced our children to the old hymns intentionally and what a joy to see our children sing it out with the oldies when we sing these songs in church.  The old hymns have a richness in doctrine that is a great lead into conversation about our beliefs.
  • We have also enjoyed some Country music- Colin Buchanan, Lee Kernaghan and John Williamson would be our favourites.  Sometimes we have talked about heart issues but mostly about relationships, responsibilities and country identity.
  • Classic Music – I must admit classic music either stirs us to sillyness as we enjoy the loud rhythm or it turns us reflective and we just have quiet.  I don’t know enough about classic music to use it for any specific teaching but we still enjoy it.

Then there are a few other things that we can learn from playing music:

  • Respecting other people’s likes (and dislikes) of music, learning to listen to somone elses’ choice without making a fuss. This goes for parents too – we have intentionally allowed our children to choose music they like, and we give them opportunity in the family to listen to that (we do have some boundaries on this – it is a balance between teaching our children to appreicate lyrics and also respecting them as individuals.)
  • Learning to sing – yes, some people don’t naturally sing – they have a talking voice, but not a singing voice.  Surrounding them with music can help.  And for those who can sing – what a joy to hear them in the car!

And then lastly – but not any less significant:

  • We learn to drive in the car with no music on at all – and no talking either.  Peace and quiet.  It is all too easy just to turn on sound.  Our children need to learn (and maybe we need to learn ourselves) to be okay by ourselves, without noise. Just me and my thoughts.
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