We really live in a different world today.
I remember when I was a little kid growing up. If I wanted to do an extracurricular activity after school, I had to have a conversation with my mom. I had to ask her if I could do it. She would always tell me:
"It's okay with me. Let's discuss it when Daddy gets home too."
So I learned as a kid that I have to discuss an idea with both parents. I'd have to talk to them both and get their opinion. To see whether or not they agreed to allow me to play on an extra sports team, or whatever it might be.
It was good for my communication skills. It taught me not to fear my dad or my mom. It taught me the importance of open lines of communication. Something happened to me the other day, I have to tell you. It's was something that probably happens to a lot of parents these days.
My daughter is 4years old. She took a gymnastic class camp on a Monday. She was absolutely ecstatic and loved it. She told her mom that she'd like to do it again on Wednesday. So mom says, "You've got to ask Dad."
What did my daughter say, at 4 years old?
She said, "Can you text him for me?"
Can you text him for me?
Wow. Think about that. You no longer need to talk to Dad or to Mom to get permission. If you're with one parent, the other can text to get you an answer. It may seem like a small thing. But it has a direct bearing on how are kids will (or won't) be able to communicate as they grow into adults.
It's creating a bad habit.
This little kid knows that whenever she wants something, she can just send a text. So she never needs to communicate anything face-to-face. Which could easily build up a fear of talking to someone face to face when she gets older.
I told my daughter's mom, "When I see her later on tonight, have her ask me. I think that's a better way to have her start the communication."
Then she texted me back about 10 minutes later and said, "I told her to ask you later and she said, well you already texted Dad."
We live in a society now where kids don't need to communicate with both parents. They only need to communicate with one, and the other parent will conveniently text to get an answer.
To me, that's wrong. I think it builds poor communication skills. I've been a leading relationship expert for the last 15 years and the biggest issue most people have in meeting the opposite sex, is poor communication skills.
Here we are teaching our kids poor communication skills and shortcuts. The beauty of childhood is learning to communicate. How to speak, how to read and how to write.
I remember how difficult it was sometimes, having to ask my father things. But because of that challenge, it turned me into a good communicator. By the time I got out of college, I more at ease socially than the kids who had trouble communicating with their parents.
Our kids now, think all we have to do is text the other parent and get an answer. They don't even have to do it themselves.
As parents, we should be teaching our kids the importance of direct communication. No matter how communication evolves the future, they're still going to have to communicate face to face. They are still going to have the tough conversations. As a parent, I believe it's our duty to teach our kids inter-personal communication skills.
So, the next time your kid wants to take an afterschool gymnastics class, or anything else they like to do, instead of texting dad, (or mom), tell your kid, "You know what? It's okay with me, but you need to ask your dad."
Teach them how to communicate in person. They'll thank you later.