Kids off at college? Did your sweet baby girl get married and move away? Did your son or daughter take off to study abroad? Do they have their own kids and families? Our kids grow up and we tend to lose the frequent, close communication we once had with them. It can be heartbreaking and difficult for us to deal with emotionally. Here's a simple thought for you to think about today:
How and when do you communicate with your children?
I'm not talking to the parents who are still raising kids at home. I'm speaking to those who have children that have left home and moved on to adulthood and "life."
After speaking a few weeks ago, I had a gentleman come up to me after I made a point about communication styles and preferences among the differing generations and he said one thing that struck me. He said, "You are totally right! I don't ever hear from my son anymore. We hardly talk since he went to college. You know why I hardly hear from him? Because I don't TEXT him. When you talked about generations and how they like to communicate, I realized that's the reason. I try to call him and I either get sent to voicemail or he doesn't answer or call me back."
I put my hand on his shoulder, as this appeared to be more than just a simple realization for the man, but a deep, epiphany. He recognized that in order to speak with his son more often and keep contact, he would have to alter his communication preferences to the needs of his son. If you are dealing with this in your life, here are a few tips for you to help bridge that communication gap between you and your loved ones.
This specific gentlemen I spoke to was well aware this his millennial son preferred text (regardless of length) over chatting on the phone or emailing. How do your children prefer to communicate? Are they fine with picking up the phone and calling you or having you give them a ring? Do they prefer Skype or Zoom? Do they want you to send them an email or text? ASK THEM. Then, recognize that if you want to connect with your children, you need to adjust your preferences to what it is they prefer (this is different in the workplace as we tend to sacrifice our own desires the most for our closest loved ones and relationships in the workplace need to be managed much differently).
How often do you communicate with your kids? Do you talk every day, every week, or once a month? Is it longer than that? What do they prefer? Do they like that you call so often or do they wish you texted or emailed more often? The reality is, once your kids leave the house, your life tends to change drastically and life becomes..well, different. You aren't planning your entire day around them anymore. You don't wake up seeing them and saying goodnight before retiring every single day like you always have. It's hard. That's the only way to put it—it's hard.
Talk to them and ask them what their preferences are and expectations. Find out their schedule. Do they work? Are they taken by their studies? Do they have kids of their own? You've been there before. Just plan your chat sessions or catch-up phone calls around their schedules.
Communicate About Communication
This step is crucial to building and maintaining your relationship. Communicate about your communication. TALK TO YOUR KIDS. Find out what works best for them. What do they need or want?
Don't allow there to be a gap between you and your kids, especially if it's because you talk too much or don't talk often enough. Just be conscious of how and when you talk to them. If you do not talk to them about this openly, then you may find yourself stuck in the lonely, long-dreaded days waiting and hoping for them to call you.