In my work, I’ve been encouraging parents lately to communicate to their children via text. I’ve encountered abundant resistance to doing so, from “We Johnsons don’t communicate that way. We talk to each other,” to “I get headaches trying to focus on those damn little buttons.”
But there is an increasing recognition that texting is the way young people communicate a majority of the time, and we parents best get on board, or miss a lot of opportunities to touch base with our kids.
The rocky road to parental texting success is beautifully highlighted in a very funny new book, “When Parents Text: So Much Said, So Little Understood” (Workman) by Lauren Kaelin and Sophia Fraioli. This little gem of a book cracked me up with recognition of an undeniable truth: newbie parents are terrible texters, but the results are often so funny, they create a nice bit of family mythology unto themselves. The book is effectively a list of text exchanges between themselves and their parents, and they ring so very funny and true. At times, like many of us, these parents are expressing stream-of-consciousness thoughts (“Someday I want to hold a penguin and rub it’s belly. It looks so soft.”). The authors also offer ongoing threads of hilarious miscommunications and misspellings (autocorrect is clearly not friendly to the parental texter!), such as “Higgy higgy!” in place of “Hi. How are you?” Beautiful.
And at times, the authors’ parents turn out to be flat-out funny on purpose, such as when one of the Dads writes, “I hope you are committing all the small crimes someone you’re age should be!”
When you read through these texts, you get a real feel for these relationships as well. Deeply loving and good-natured, there is plenty here to satisfy that reality-TV voyeur lurking in all of us.
This book is reminiscent, to some extent, of the wildly popular “S*** My Dad Says.” “WPT” skips the crassness and meanness, and the result, although a reflection of our technological age, is very sweet somehow, cute, even quaint. Not easy to pull off when we’re talking texting!
So pick up the book, read it with your family. Bet you’re sending ‘Higgy higgy” messages to each other before you know it!
You can check out the book trailer here: