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Entries in Text (1)

Wednesday
Aug312011

Parenting via Text

When I moved to Boston from Cleveland, I kept in regular touch with my parents.  This was the early 80’s, a timeframe the local “oldies” radio station now considers in their wheelhouse.There’s little need to text when you’re together

As I would drive home from Boston, I would call to check in on the parents.  Often, I would be bored on the call listening to mom describe what color the neighbor across the street had painted their front door.   Sorry mom, I really wasn’t concerned with the color of the door.

Fast forward 30 years, and I’m now the elder male in the family.  Staying in touch with my kids is an important part of my life.  I do silly things to try and engage them, like setting up a camera so they can watch a Tropical Storm. 

Communicating with young adults is different now than 30 years ago.

The phone is passé.  While they each have smartphones (iPhone or Android), and both carry their smartphones like they are jewelry, neither have learned how to enter a number and press the green “call” button.  In fact, my son claims the Verizon phone service is so poor in his neighborhood he can’t make/receive calls…although Verizon does offer an extender.

This generation only talks when they are in trouble.  Then the phone will ring, with an immediate loud, staccato greeting of, “Dad!  So and so has happened…..”

Otherwise, this crowd prefers texting.

Here are some samples…take note of the times:

Son: You are completely welcome to stay here until the power is back on.

(After the hurricane)   Sun 7:12PM

Dad:  Thanks, Bud.  If this goes to tomorrow night, I might.

Sun 7:12PM

Son:  Any idea when the power is coming back?

          Mon 9:52AM

Dad: Thanks for asking.  I’d guess 7:21AM (It’s back.)

Mon 9:52AM

 

Or this status update from Daughter:

Daughter: I did an orientation for a blind person today.  Makes u want to stop taking everything for granted.

Tues 6:45PM

 

Dad:  No kidding!  Be happy.

Tues 6:45PM

 

A couple things I’ve learned from this:

 

  • The children select the communications time and the medium.  Consistently, they choose text over other vehicles.

    Text is NOT my preferred communications vehicle.  I’d rather see them (first), or talk (second).  They choose text.
  •  If I don’t hear from them for a while, I’ll send them a quick message…something simple like:
Hey…how are you?
A missing person’s report has been filed on you.
$1,000,000 if you see me in the next 5 minutes.

And patiently wait for a response.  They may be in the gym, or on a call, and not immediately see the message.

  • If I find myself exchanging a long series of texts, where I believe we are arguing or “talking past each other,” I’ll insist on a phone call.  If necessary, I’ll let them know we need to talk, and disengage from the texting. 
  • You’ll need to understand a new language.  Because texts are limited to 140 characters, abbreviations are used.  Here’s a great list.
  • Texting is a big part of the next generation’s life.  So, when we actually are in person…I insist for some “electronic free” time.  This is hard, especially for me, as I’m always reaching for my BlackBerry.
  • Texting eliminates the “flowers” around the communications.  No small talk.  I try to close my communications with ILY.  And frankly expect ILY2 back.

GTG.  Hope this has you LOL. 

Now, it’s your turn.  Share what works and doesn’t work communicating with your kids.