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The Car-free Facts of Life?

February 24, 2011

Aw, com'on Mrs. G., can't we get a car?

Is that “You take the good, you take the bad …” song running through your head right now? Mine too. But that’s not the subject of today’s post.

Today’s topic is how to talk to your kids about being car-free.

Do you tell them:

  • Why other kids and their families ride in cars and you don’t?
  • That cars—and, in effect, the people who drive them—cause damage to the environment?
  • How they should make transportation choices when they get older?
  • To toughen up when it’s below zero outside?

In her article, “‘Mom, can we get the kind of car that we keep at our house?’”  in Grist, Carla Saulter tries to answer these questions.

While her discussion is interesting, she doesn’t get too far, before she asks for suggestions from her readers. Some of their ideas include:

  • “Although you don’t want to judge other people, think about inviting friends to take a walk with you or pointing out the people on a local bike path. Help your children to see that there is also a community of people making choices like you have and working together.”
  • “My basic parenting creed seem to apply here, as elsewhere: Be firm on rules, structure, and your own values, and then make it clear that you respect your children as individuals, and that they are allowed to be different (but after they leave home!)”
  • “As much as we want to have perfect answers to totally impossible questions, I think that honest and spontaneous (albeit thoughtful) conversation is the best way to really teach children how complex these things are.”
  • “Maybe you should get off the bus and onto bikes for a while to emphasize the fun side of your freedom from traveling about in steel boxes.”

The verdict:  It’s probably easier than the sex talk, but still no walk in the park.

Any other parents out there struggling with this?


5 Comments leave one →
  1. February 28, 2011 2:20 pm

    Alyssa Alt of eGO Carshare tipped me off about your blog, and in a very short time, I’ve become a fan. I just your humor and layout, plus teaching us to live without cars is a noble quest. Tip of the hat for the effort.

    I hope you don’t mind but I’ve included a link to your blog in the Sunday edition of my newsletter. You can find it under the NATIONAL headline.

    Would like to sit down and have a chat with you in the near future. In the meantime, keep up the great work.

    Bill Spriggs

    • avaerewyck permalink
      February 28, 2011 10:41 pm

      Thanks so much for the encouragement and feedback, Bill! Tip of the hat for your efforts for community and public transit too! That’s so great that Alyssa has connected us. I’ve subscribed to several of your newsletters and look forward to receiving them. Do you use public transit regularly?

  2. pawl permalink
    March 1, 2011 10:20 pm

    I do not have these struggles as a parent, but as a bike advocate, my biggest struggle is taking time out of my day to encourage my friends to get a good bike and then showing them basic bike maintenance, kind of like teaching a person to fish.
    I’ve taken a number of friends bike shopping, and then encourage them to hop on their bikes as often as possible, and be sure to shower them with praise & approval when they tell me they have.

    • avaerewyck permalink
      March 2, 2011 8:38 am

      You are truly a role model, Pawl – so much so that maybe you’d like to do a No Car Go guest post some day?! Let me know.

  3. pawl permalink
    March 1, 2011 10:21 pm

    And of course biking everywhere I go and doing my best not to complain about biking related things… ya know the whole role model thing.

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