HOW TO STAY IN TOUCH WITH ADULT KIDS
I love technology. I’m not a “techie.” In fact, I’m severely technologically challenged. I only recently got on Facebook, and I’m years away from pinning, tweeting, or linking anything. You may be able to relate, but I love technology because it’s my ‘go-to” for staying in touch with my adult kids and connected to my family.
Reach out and text. Beat them at their own game.
You see, rule Number 1 when kids head off to college: Mom takes a few giant steps backwards (…I negotiated that number down to 1) to give kid some breathing room as he begins navigating the world. Thanks to technology, I can step back AND still stay in touch.
Here are a few ways I stay in touch with my kids after they’ve moved away:
1. Use Social Media
The nice thing about the Internet, Face Time, and texting is it still allows me access to them, no matter the distance. I can be as involved in their lives as they want me to be (or don’t want me to be).
As with anything, there’s an upside and a downside. My kids can more readily communicate with each other and with us. They can contact us immediately if they need advice or encouragement . . . or money. We’ve spent countless hours Skyping with kids who are away from home to ease the burden of homesickness. My kids greet each other each morning, say good night before going to bed, encourage one another, instantly celebrate victories, express their love for one another, and, yes, insult one another. Told you there’s a downside.
2. Communicate Often
A few weeks ago, our family was separated by three different time zones, but technology knitted us together. Two of our kids were in California on a retreat with church, one attends school in New York, and our oldest daughter lives on campus at a Colorado university.
4:08 a.m. EST/2:08 a.m. MT/1:08 a.m. PT
Eastern Standard Time awakes, followed by the Mountain Standard people, followed by the Pacific Standard folks.
And, so our day begins…
One of the advantages of staying in touch is that the kids still have opportunities to debate the more profound issues in life.
Middle Boy Child to Oldest Boy Child: Did you know Superman got a new super power?
Oldest Boy Child: …No, he didn’t.
Middle Boy Child: The “super flare.”
Youngest Girl Child: Yeah, he did.
Middle Boy Child: Look it up.
Oldest Boy Child: Is it like solar flare?
Middle Boy Child: No, it’s his heat vision but from every part of his body at once. In a supernova blast, he shoots out all his solar energy. Afterward, he becomes human for 24 hours.
Oldest Boy Child: That’s stupid.
4:00 p.m. EST/2 p.m. MST/1 p.m. PT
And, sibling rivalry stays alive and well.
Oldest Boy Child: It was minus 13 here yesterday. WITHOUT WIND CHILL! It’s so cold that my face hurts.
Youngest Girl Child: It’s cold in Colorado, too.
Middle Boy Child: Except our faces don’t hurt because we get to stay inside. LOL! (He’s referring to Oldest Boy Child’s current status as a cadet at the Military Academy where weather never stops anything. Oldest Boy Child recently got pneumonia after standing out in the rain for an hour waiting for a parade to start.)
Oldest Boy Child: It feels like my face is broken. . . . I could have gone to school in California.
Husband: Put on that cute little mask and the air won’t hurt your face.
Middle Boy Child: Is there a military academy in California?
Me: Suck it up! It’s not like your arm’s broken.
I still get to take advantage of teachable moments.
Middle Boy Child: We’re in California. We’re going to hit the beach. It’s 81 degrees. The sun is going to burn me up.
Oldest Boy Child (still angry at Middle Boy Child for the “we get to stay inside” crack): You won’t get sunburned. You never have, and you never will.
Oldest Girl Child (jumping in on the side of Middle Boy Child): How do you know, Oldest Boy Child? Can you feel what he feels? Not at all. Not all of us are afraid of jellyfish.
Middle Boy Child to Oldest Girl Child: Hay Guuuuuurrrrl!
(At this point, I am totally lost, so I get the conversation back on point.)
Me: Anyone can get sunburned.
Oldest Boy Child: Really?
The wisdom of a mother.
They can conveniently hit us up for money (with the added bonus of getting to insult someone).
Middle Boy Child: Mom, will you give me $$ so I can get ake-ay a irthday-ay present. (He was trying to say “get Jake a birthday present in Pig Latin.)
Oldest Boy Child: You suck at Pig Latin, Middle Boy Child.
(Yes, I home schooled my children, and they still say, “you suck.” Sigh. No judging!)
Me: Apologize, Oldest Boy Child.
Oldest Boy Child: Orry—say
Middle Boy Child: No, you suck!
Me: Middle Boy Child, apologize.
Middle Boy Child: I‘m sorry that you suck, Oldest Boy Child.
Oldest Boy Child: I am sorry that you are inferior to my being.
Me: Boys, don’t make me come up there! (One was in California and the other in New York.)
Oldest Boy Child: It’s okay mom. He’s just jealous of my supreme-ness
11:30 p.m. EST/9:30 p.m. MST/8:30 PST p.m.
And, best of all, they can still express love for one another.
Me: Good night, everyone.
Oldest Boy Child: Good night, Mom. I love you.
Me: I love you, too.
Middle Boy Child: I love you, too, Mom and Oldest Boy Child.
Oldest Boy Child: I love you, too, Middle Boy Child and Youngest Girl Child.
Middle Boy Child (He just can’t let it go): I love you, more.
Youngest Girl Child: I love you 100,000,000,000,000.5
Middle Boy Child: I love you infinity.
Youngest Girl Child: Good Night!!!
Husband: Good night, John Boy.
Oldest Boy Child: Good night, Dad.
Oldest Girl Child: Nite, Jim Bob.
Middle Boy Child to Oldest Girl Child: I have a question. Why are you super grammatically correct, but in your texts you use “nite” instead of “night?”
Oldest Girl Child (clearly annoyed): Nite, Mom.
Middle Boy Child (unfazed): Good night, everyone. I will be sleeping until I wake.
Husband: Good night, family.
Me to Husband: I’ll say good night to you when you get home.
Husband: Awww, shucks!
Middle Boy Child: Ugh!
Middle Boy Child: I don’t like it when my folks flirt in an OPEN text room.
Me: Sooorrrrrryyyyy. : )
3. Let Your Kids Know You Are There
We don’t communicate extensively daily, but, even though many miles separate us, we try to stay connected as a family. (However twisted it may be.) It’s not always pretty, but it’s real. Our kids truly love each other and technology allows us to still be somewhat involved in each others’ lives. As kids begin trusting their own judgment and following their own instincts, technology gives them sort of a safety net until they are steady on their feet. They know we are always a phone call or text away.
Staying in touch is more convenient today than it ever has been in the past. Like anything else that’s important to us, it takes time and effort.
If you have college-aged kids or adult children who don’t live nearby, please comment and tell me how you stay in touch.