Are you texting with your young kids or teens? I don't mean checking up on them or getting info about their location. I mean "texting" - like what their friends do. Share your day, ask about their day, that kind of thing. Perhaps you should start before it's too late.
Like it or not, texting has quickly become the communication tool of choice for a generation or two of young people. The immediacy, intimacy, and instant gratification is a strong pull that not many can resist. "Leave a voice mail? Seriously?" As adults, some of us might not find this a very fulfilling way of communication, but our kids do.
So, why would I advocate "texting" with your kids? Let me tell you a personal story.
Three years ago, my wife and I welcomed two of my nephews into our home. Due to circumstances at the time, they needed a safe and stable home. The youngest boy was 8 and the oldest 16. As we already had our own 6 and 8 year olds, the youngest nephew just fit right into our way of life. The oldest was a bit of a culture shock for us. Don't get me wrong, he was a great kid. However, we had no first hand knowledge or experience raising a young man.
Because Spencer had been uprooted from his friends in another state, I wanted to let him keep in touch with them. We gave him an old iPhone he could use to text and call. My first shock was the initial bill after 1 month of his use. Oops. I didn't have an unlimited texting plan. I had no idea how much kids text. After making sure Spencer was assigned some appropriate chores to pay for the cost, I upgraded to an unlimited texting plan. He routinely sent 3000+ texts per month. Actual "phone" usage - about 20 minutes per month.
It was clear that Spencer's preferred method of communication was texting. However, we didn't really communicate that way. We talked in person, sharing a text only when information was needed. After 2 years of staying with us, I felt we had a pretty good rapport with Spencer. Then, he left for college.
Because virtually all of our communication with Spencer had been verbal, we sort of lost all communication with him when he left. We went from daily interaction to virtually none. We weren't in the habit of keeping in touch with him in a way he was comfortable with. His "phone" was just a device that allowed texting. It wasn't a verbal communication tool for him.
Since my wife and I hadn't texted much before, we weren't very comfortable expressing ourselves that way with him. So, the last year has been a bit of a start / stop spurt of occasional texting with Spencer. It feels odd and unnatural; so, we don't do it much. For Spencer, he wasn't used to communicating his day with us via text; so, he doesn't do it naturally. We weren't in his circle on the phone.
For us, communicating by text is getting easier. We now use Kids In Touch to keep in touch with the younger kids. Even though we can talk to them every minute of the day, we're making sure we'll know how to communicate with these kids when we become empty nesters.
You can avoid this situation as well. Just pick up your phone and text once or twice a day. Teach your kids to get used to communicating with their parents while they're young. It will pay dividends later.