How To Text Your Parents When You Don't Want To Call Them, According To An Expert
Let's be honest: Most of us don't mind talking on the phone with our parents, but sometimes, they can be pretty chatty. When you don't live with your parents anymore, you don't always have time to fill them in on everything. Of course, some things are worth sharing, like if you're desperate for roommate advice or have a question about your taxes. When you get good news, you might contemplate calling home, but then you remember it could turn into hours of conversation — and you have to go grocery shopping! Needless to say, knowing how to text your parents when you don't want to call them is key.
Truth is, you can't expect your family to quit calling you cold turkey-style. (Unless, of course, that's something you want.) More often than not, your parents and/or siblings are really just reaching out because they care about you a whole lot. Instead of trying to craft a text that won't leave your parents really moody after you ignored their 10th call, knowing how to balance the communication is crucial to making everyone happy and keeping the peace. Dr. Gary Brown, a prominent relationship expert in Los Angeles, explains just how to do just that.
1. Send Them The Good News
When it comes to good news, parents can't get enough of it. They love to hear about the things that are going well in your life because it's rewarding for them, too. Yes, you've outgrown some pretty big milestones, like riding your first bike or even landing your first job, but they'll always have a listening ear for the little things that are equally worth celebrating.
The best part is, they'll likely always reply with encouraging advice or a supportive cheer made out of emojis. They were always there on the sidelines of your soccer games, and being your number one fan doesn't stop just because you're 20-something now.
According to Brown, it's always safe to send them a text with "good news" when you get it, and maybe even a little humor here and there. But if it's really big news and worth a once-in-a-lifetime reaction, don't leave it just up to the screen.
2. Come Up With A Time To Talk More
A text is a good way of letting someone else know that you're thinking about them, or appreciate their presence in your life. But some things call for having an actual phone call instead. Particularly when it comes to your parents, you'll want to plan a time that works for both of you for a more lengthy talk than what can be done over text.
"It seems completely OK to text a family member that you are currently busy with friends, work, or school," Brown tells Elite Daily. "What I would also say is that it would be polite to also offer them a few times when it might be better to talk." Truth is, as a 20-something, your schedule is pretty hectic, and sometimes talking to your parents can't be so spontaneous. I used to call my dad when I was walking to my car during school because that was the only time I had.
Sending parents a simple text setting up something for later has a lot of advantages. According to Brown, "It is short. It helps to set a nice tone. [And] they don't feel blown off."
3. Texting Is Good For The Small Stuff, Too
Brown notes that you shouldn't always rely on texting. But this particular text works for the day-to-day casual conversation that doesn't quite need a phone call.
In college, I probably texted my mom almost every day some weeks, asking her how to cook chicken, or if she saw something funny on Facebook. I'd send my dad Game of Thrones trailers and theories that I knew would brighten his day. Little things like that never go unnoticed, and can be a great way to keep communication simple and strong.
4. Seriously, Don't Have Fights Over Text
Nobody likes to deal with drama, but doing it over text is never a good way to confront the issue. So much can be misunderstood, whether it's the tone or the way a sentence was worded. This applies to every kind of relationship — and not just texting your parents.
According to Brown, people often use texting as a barrier between themselves and a problem they need to face. Especially if their relationship with their parents is going through a rough patch, it's ideal to be honest with the situation.
"If you are in a bad place with one or both of your parents, you need to ask yourself why you are avoiding talking with them," Brown tells Elite Daily. "The reasons could be too numerous to mention, but could include: You don't feel safe having the conversation, you feel too vulnerable, you are afraid of being judged, [or] perhaps you are judging them as well." If this situation is sensitive, he suggests that you handle it in person.
5. If It's An Emergency, Always Call
No matter what age you are, no parent ever wants to hear the tough stuff over text. They probably still look at you as a little kid whose backpack was too big for their body in kindergarten, and a text just doesn't give them the right peace of mind or details when it comes to an emergency.
Like finding out about an engagement over text, Brown considers a text like this as something you shouldn't send to your parents. A situation like this one is on the other side of the spectrum when it comes to significant life events, and will definitely disrupt their whole day as well. In the midst of all of the chaos, find time to call and keep your parents updated as often as possible.
6. Know Their Texting Lingo
Parents don't always have the same texting lingo as we do. It can definitely be hard for them to keep up with the way even the simplest of words are shortened.
You've probably seen all of the ways parents have messed up their texting, and it makes for some pretty interesting memes. "WTF" becomes "Wow, that's fantastic!" and "Y" apparently means "Yes." Truth is, parents often have their own code, too.
A lot can get lost in translation when texting, so steer clear of using abbreviations that might not make sense to someone right away. For example, shortening "right now" to just "rn." How obvious would that actually be to your parents?
7. Always Follow Up With FaceTime
"Calling is almost always preferable to texting when it comes to significant life events," Brown says. "This is particularly true when something of significance has happened, is happening, or is about to happen in your life." When you have something particularly good to share, it's always amazing to see — or at least hear — your parents' reactions firsthand. Nothing quite compares to seeing your engagement ring or hearing about a big raise or promotion at work IRL. It's just a moment in time that's really irreplaceable.
Of course, this isn't always possible. Especially when distance comes into play, sometimes we have to settle for FaceTime or video chat. But Brown tells Elite Daily, "I think a phone call is always nice whenever possible." Brown also says, "I mean, nothing can ever replace the human voice. Not texting. Not Instagram. Not Facebook. Not Twitter."
Text your parents to make plans for the future, when you can have a conversation face-to-face. Sometimes you just can't call, and that's totally understandable.
8. If Talking To Your Parents Feels Toxic
The reality is, sometimes our relationship with our parents isn't so ideal. We might still care about them, and appreciate when they have been there — but it's turned toxic, and conversation doesn't always feel comfortable. If this sounds familiar, then you're not alone by any means.
"Nobody is born toxic and that applies to your parents," Brown tells Elite Daily. "It's highly likely that they came from a highly dysfunctional family as well - and now they have now transmitted that dysfunction to your family. To that extent, try to have some empathy for them if you can."
Brown continues to say that toxic people, including parents, don't always realize their impact on others. Odds are, they're more concerned with being right in a situation than building a close relationship. In that case, you need to make your own health a priority and be self-aware as to what would feel best for you.
Reach out to other family members first, and get some advice. "You might want to call one of your siblings and ask them for their perspective," Brown says. They know what you're going through, too, and could probably help you handle all sides of the situation.
9. If You Just Don't Get Along
You just might not get along with your parents. Maybe you don't share the same values, or can never find a common ground. This kind of relationship is not rare.
"I think it best to seek out some guidance from people who are aware of the situation so that you can gain some extra perspective before texting them," Brown tells Elite Daily. Use the text as a way to break the ice.
Try to offer up a chance for resolution on topics that might have been rough in the past. After all, they are your parents and sometimes talking it out in a healthy way can smooth things over. Having a comfortable space to talk with them in the future will for sure feel good.
10. If You Don't Really Have A Relationship With Them
If you don't really have a relationship with your parents, then texting them in any situation can feel awkward. Sometimes the reasoning behind the distance is rough. Brown suggests the following: "It's quite possible, that an opening text to the parent you feel safest with may be the way to go if you are want to open up the door to potentially seeing if the wounds can be healed." In other words, use a text as a way to break the ice again.
"Although I generally recommend that we engage in verbal conversations as opposed to texting, sometimes you just may not feel safe enough to pick up your phone or meet with your parents in person," Brown continues to tell Elite Daily. Truth is, as much as we hate hiding behind our screens, in some situations, those boundaries are much-needed.
Everyone's relationship with their parents is different, and your gut will tell you what's best for your situation. If you want to text your parents instead of calling them, consider this advice if you're coming up blank.