Quit Telling My Teens Not To Text


I hate when I hear know-it-all adults (ok, like me) condemn “technology” and “screen time” as destructive to family life and “real” communication between kids and parents.

Why? Because as much as I rant at my three kids when they bring their iPhones to the dinner table, the truth is simple: technology has improved and enhanced my relationship with my kids.
Not to mention keeping in touch with my wide circle of 1,123 friends, the close acquaintances I have never met except on Facebook, and all of my elementary and high school boyfriends who are getting divorced and politely wondering what I’ve been up to for the past 30 years and would I like to see a cell phone screenshot of their abs.

Technology is one of the best parenting tools going.  I first learned to text when texting emerged as the critical success factor for parent-to-kid communication. My darling offspring would NEVER answer a call from me in front of their friends.  A surreptitious text message allowed them to save face.
I found that, via text, they actually would respond as if I were a human being who cared about them instead of the school principal about to bust them for selling hash brownies in the cafeteria.  Sometimes they would even text “Luv ya!” (I saved those.) Nearly 100% of my texting skills came from my kids.  And I’m pretty good these days:  my latest bill shows I send over 100 texts a day.

But of course there were a few mishaps.

The best ones, in the chapter of family life titled “Mom Learns to Text,” went like this:

Mom: “Son, where R U?”  [I sure was proud of my quick pick up of handy text abbreviations.]

Son: “At Matt’s.  Can you pick me up at 10.30?”

Mom: “Y”

Son: “What do you mean?  Because I need a ride home?  Because Matt’s parents said I have to leave at 10.30?”

Mom: “I said YYYYYY!”

Son: “Mom, I told you why. Why do you need to know all this?  I just need a ride home!!!!”


I could go on, but fortunately the good folks at Life Buzz have compiled an anthology of the Funniest Texts Between Parents and Their Children Ever Sent.  Take 30 minutes out of your life right now and laugh until tears drain out your sleep-deprived eye sockets.  It sure is good to remember that parenthood is a comedy, not the high stakes drama it often feels like instead.

Lastly, I want to survey those adults who condemn kids’ usage of technology.  You know, all those paternalist speeches in the media, on parenting blogs, and at those helpful educational roundtables put on by my kids’ schools.

Here’s my question: how often are those moralists on their “devices” when their own kids are around?NPR Morning Edition recently ran a segment, “For the Children’s Sake, Put Down that Smart Phone,” detailing how children respond when their parents pull out their phone or Droid in the kitchen or while they are zooming up the field to score their first peewee soccer goal.

I mean, just go to a local playground or kids’ T-ball game.  Watch the parents on the benches or those pushing the strollers.  Not to mention the adults driving their kids to all those important extracurricular activities. They are all looking at their phones, not their beloved kids. Or, heaven forbid, the road in front of them.
The easiest way to be a good parent?  Never forget what it is like to be a kid.The easiest way to be a bad parent?  Be a blatant hypocrite.



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