Why I’m Teaching My Kids to Talk to Strangers

What is the number one life lesson that every mother gives to their children from the earliest age? DON’T TALK TO STRANGERS! What are the reasons? It is dangerous, you can’t trust them, you might get hurt. Those are the probably the worst nightmares of any mother. Have I raised the hair on the back of your neck? Did you just put down your smartphone to look out the window at your kids? Good, I’ve evoked some strong emotions. What if I told you that I WANT my kids to talk to strangers? Would you call Child Protective Services on me? Before you do that, let me show you something.

I’ll bet you’re already talking to strangers

Some of you may be introverts, that’s great! I’m not one, if you haven’t figured that out. In fact, one of the first times I hung out with my wife (super introvert) before we were even dating, I told her point blank “I could NEVER marry an introvert.” Well never say never, am I right?  I want to give you some warm feelings here. Think about a favorite character from a book. I know from looking at my site statistics that he’s probably someone like Mr. Darcy. You want to hate him but you can’t, there is something appealing about him. Now imagine that he is in the room with you, sitting in a wing back chair reading a book by the fire. You get the urge to talk to him but you won’t, why? Because you are afraid, because he is a STRANGER. Now put him back inside of the book, you spend the entire book having a conversation with him and by the end of the book he has ceased being a stranger and you, just like the lucky lady in the book, have fallen head over heels for someone who only a few hundred pages before was a complete stranger. This is an example where YOU just spoke to a stranger and fell in love.P3213425

What does Jane Austin have to do with Sunday Drives you might ask? Well I’m glad you asked. I like to imagine Sunday Drives like a story that I’m reading. Each mile is another line on the page. When I simply skim through a book, I often miss those subtle references, the inside jokes, and the emotions that are being thrown at you by the author. Studies show that the internet is training our brains to read everything in an F shape where we read the first line, skim the next few, pick back up at the next section, and rinse and repeat until we get to the bottom only having comprehended about 40% of what we read. I would reckon that you are doing this exact same thing every time you step into your car. You never engage in a conversation with the characters in the story. Why not? Because they are strangers.

The Stranger’s House that started it allschoppenhorst home

Let me tell you one of my stories, and its a story that really could and should be credited with the birth of this blog. We found a house along the side of the road. This house was certainly not much to look at and for most people driving down that stretch of MO-94 it got lost in the background of the bluffs and rolling hills of Wine Country. But this house intrigued us and we got out. We pulled off that road and had a conversation with that house, we took pictures, we asked who had lived there and what it must have been like. Obviously that house couldn’t talk back, but you know who could? Strangers. The very next day, I sent an email to the Warren County Historical Society to see what they knew about the house and they directed me to a woman who had written a book about it. That day I called her and had one of the most fascinating discussions of my life. I learned new things about the Civil war, about life in the frontier in the mid 1800s, about Missouri Politics, and about a family with eleven kids who loved that home as much as we did. We got excited about this, and in fact even had thoughts about helping our realtor buy the place as a rehab project. In the end we didn’t, but you know what we got out of that? I now have a new book about a fascinating part of Missouri History, a number in my phone to ask any questions I want about Warren County, and perhaps most importantly a new found love for a small piece of my home state. I never would have known what I was missing and you never will either if you don’t get out and talk to strangers.P2292799

Join the Driving on Sunday movement!

This is the skill that you should be teaching your children right now! Every single stranger that you meet has a story. Have you ever heard of Humans of New York? That’s all it is, it is one guy talking to strangers and sharing their stories. Every single house, park, cemetery, or store has a story that you will not know until you get out of your car and talk to strangers. These skills are essential for getting more enjoyment out of life and they can even help make you more money. We’re doing it, we’re #drivingonsunday and falling more and more in love with our home and you can too.

This weekend commit yourself to talking to one stranger, just one. I’ll even give you a question to ask them, and no its not a pick up line. Just ask them “Do you come this place often? What is your favorite thing to do here?” And when you do that I want to hear about it. Share this post on your favorite social media site with one thing that you learned from that stranger using the #drivingonsunday. If you do that, you could win your very own Driving on Sunday bumper sticker that you can use to show everyone that you are not afraid to talk to strangers. Are you with me? Will you do that? Will you become part of the movement to fall in love with your home?

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