I want to be an active part of my grandchildren’s lives, but they seem more interested in texting than having a normal face-to-face or even telephone conversation. How can I get my teenage grandkids to talk to me?
You’ll probably have to settle for what you can get –– texting.
At least for the majority of exchanges.
I know many people feel the loss of personal interaction as socializing moves into the cyber world. And I won’t argue that there isn’t a loss. Unfortunately, change always brings loss, in one way or another.
But change also brings gain, in one way or another.
So, you should use texting to your advantage. Teenagers lead busy lives. Although many arguments can be made against such tightly packed calendars, the reality is, whether they should or shouldn’t, they lead busy lives. And texting fits into their schedules. Sending a text allows the grandchild to reply on his time and offers you a little insight into his life, while a phone call would go unanswered and, perhaps, unreturned. A conversation may take longer when held through texting, but at least the conversation is being had.
And any grandparent who is unsure of any communication device driven by new technology can ask a grandchild to teach them. Those moments of sharing bring another chance to bond and, with the right attitude, plenty of opportunities to laugh.
Finally, you can still, of course, use all the other “old-fashioned” methods of contact –– phone calls, letters and cards. And, if you have a good relationship with your grandchildren’s parents or a good relationship with your grandchildren themselves, you can explain that you wish to receive those same things from them, now and then, because those types of interaction feel more personal to you. If they see you as willing to adapt and learn for them, they just might return the favor.
Tips For Texting Teenagers
Beginning a text conversation may feel a bit daunting for the uninitiated, so here are a few suggestions to get you started.
Ask specific questions about the hobbies, activities or people that play a significant part in the teenager’s life. Ask about the baseball game or cheerleader tryouts or the band competition. Or ask about a difficult or favorite class or the new part-time job.
When you know the teenager is facing a challenge, pass along encouragement before and praise after the event. Or after you have spent a day with them, send a quick follow-up text, sharing what you enjoyed the most.
Also, you shouldn’t be afraid to talk about yourself a bit. Feel free to throw in a sentence or two about your own activities. They just might learn to ask questions as well.
Finally, don’t be overwhelmed by text talk. You can find guides to the abbreviations on the Internet, if you really want to know. But writing with actual words and full punctuation is perfectly acceptable.
Have a relationship question for Angel? Email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. She will select reader questions to answer, along with questions she finds, in upcoming issues of Inside Columbia’s Prime.