I’m not too lazy to walk across the living room. Well, okay, maybe sometimes I am. But that’s not (usually) why I text my teen, even when he’s under the same roof.
And I’m not talking about requests to move the laundry to the dryer or please grab me a Diet Coke. It’s more “How was that math test?” and “Do you need help studying for your vocabulary quiz?” and “What time is practice on Thursday?”
It might sound silly to text someone who’s within shouting distance. Or that I’m condoning poor social skills, lousy manners or even bad grammar. And I worry about that, too.
However, when I took a tip from my teen and starting texting a little bit more and talking a little bit less, I discovered something surprising: Texting can be a helpful tool in my parenting arsenal. In fact, it actually fosters better communication between my teen and me, at least when I use it in certain, specific situations. (There are plenty of circumstances where I won’t text my teen, as well.)
Four reasons I text with my teen
1) Check-ins aren’t so abrasive
What starts off as a simple question on my part often sounds like an accusation to my teenager. As a result, my attempts at casual chitchats can escalate into arguments in seconds flat, especially when I try to sneak in a school-related inquiry.
However, if I text a check-in about this or that, it’s usually better received than popping into his room and questioning him. Plus, my attempts at bringing up little reminders in casual conversation often turns into my asking about that big project or homework assignment seven times, when a single text would have been sufficient.
I’ll admit, I struggle with nagging. He struggles with tone. We know this. So we use texting to help us. I say what I need. He answers. Or vice versa. Message received and done.
2) It couldn’t be clearer
I also find that when we take the emotion out of our conversations, we can be a whole lot clearer.
Yes, you can go to Ryan’s but after you finish your homework. What time do you work tomorrow? Did you turn in the fundraising money?
Bam. To the point.
Especially on our busiest days, when we’re running from school to practice to work and back again, it’s sometimes best to text about the little stuff, the details.
3) There’s a written record
What time was I supposed to pick him up from work? Which baseball mitt was I supposed to order? When’s that meeting with the school counselor?
It’s not only helpful to have a written record of those little things, it’s handy when we have a disagreement, too. Or when mom-brain gets me all foggy and confused.
Look, you can see the text, I told you to be home by 10. Oops, now I see your text that practice was cancelled today.
No, I don’t do it for the I-told-you-so later on, as tempting as that is. Ultimately, it’s helpful to have a record of what we agreed upon and something we can always go back to, if needed. Plus, it stops me from asking the same question over and over, which I have an annoying habit of doing. In the end, it’s good for both of us.
4) I’m speaking his language.
Texting is how my teen and his friends prefer to communicate. Period. Personally, I’d rather talk in face-to-face. But that’s not always possible or even preferable.
While I’m not the biggest fan, especially for more serious topics, there’s something to be said about speaking in my teenager’s preferred language, which increasingly means texting. And you can’t deny that it’s the height of productivity, being able to check and send messages at your own convenience, especially when we’re in the midst of work, school and activities.
I’ve seen that sending off a few texts can really help keep the lines of communication open with my teen. It prevents arguments and even gets me to quit nagging. In the end, if texting my teen in the next room can improve our relationship and help us connect better, well, then I’m all for it.
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