As we made our annual Thanksgiving drive from Phoenix to Los Angeles, I noticed the Call Boxes along the side of the road. To be honest, I was a little surprised to see them, I figured cell phones would have replaced the need for them. But lo and behold, if you look for them, the signs and yellow boxes are still there - whether there is a working phone inside the box, remains to be seen. Thankfully I didn’t have to stop and find out.
It’s interesting to think about how forms of communication have changed in a relatively short amount of time. In the 1960’s and 1970’s, the CB radio was revolutionary, allowing long distance drivers the ability to communicate. Today cell phones and GPS/satellite technology have overtaken the practical need for a CB radio (even though many drivers still use them).
When I was in fourth grade, we each had a pen pal. We would write letters in class, address the envelopes, drop them in the mail and wait for weeks for a return letter to arrive. Today, within seconds, students can video conference into a virtual classroom with other students half way around the world.
I was hired for my first job out of college after replying to a Classified Ad in the Sunday edition of the Los Angeles Times. A couple years later that job sent me to Europe while the University of Arizona was playing in the NCAAA “March Madness” Tournament. Email and the internet were still relatively new, and connections were inconsistent and expensive. So, every morning I would go to the front desk of the hotel where a fax from my dad was waiting with the news article recapping what happened in the game the day before. These examples make me feel ancient, like I lived in the dark ages, but it really wasn’t that long ago!
Technology has been moving at a rapid pace over the last 20-30 years. I doubt any of us still have rabbit ears on our televisions or rotary phones attached to the wall. It’s hard to remember a time when smart phones, computers and cable/satellite television weren’t a part of our lives. We’ve adapted seamlessly because this new technology offered easier and faster ways to communicate and connect with others. The words and the feelings were the same, but the ways we did it, the forms we used, changed.
This trip down memory lane is fun, but what’s my point and how does it relate to parenting? It’s two-fold. The first point is that in reflecting on how things were when I was growing up, it’s blatantly obvious how drastically things have changed. Our kids have a completely different frame of reference. My daughter was mortified one day when I suggested she call her friend on the phone instead of text her – “Why would I do that?!?” (Naturally I thought a phone was for talking, oh how much I have to learn.) We have to accept the fact that our kids will look at us funny when we tell them how exciting it was to receive a letter in the mail from a friend. (Really, how slow and boring is that in their eyes today?) Conceptually we all know this is true, but it’s so easy to forget this is all they’ve ever known. They are the on-demand generation where everything they want, or need, is a couple clicks away. They will never see things the way we do, similarly we will never fully relate to their perspective either, and that’s ok. Knowing our perspectives will always be different is an important thing to remember.
All of this talk about changing technology also made me think about how much we have to continue to grow and change with our kids. We spend a lot of time in the first years of life with our kids teaching them how to communicate – we listen to their cries and teach them sign language. Eventually we teach them words, sentences and how to carry on conversations. At that point many of us assume we’re done, once they know the words, then the rest is just talking, right? Not quite. Like the introduction of new technology, we must adapt our communication style to our kids as they get older. It might be cute to use sign language the word for “more” or “all done” when they are ten, but you’re not going to fully understand how hungry they are. Your communication style must continue to grow along with them. If you want ideas on how to do that, I compiled the best tips and tools on how to continue communicating effectively with your kids and reinforce your relationship, in my online course, Communicating through Connection. (And if you purchase this weekend, you’ll save $50 and pay only $47.)
Sometimes we get stuck because the “old ways” of communicating still work, you can still stop on the side of the road and make a call from a call box, but is it the most effective and efficient way to get help? Are your ways of communicating with your toddler, still working with your school ager? Communicating with our kids is ever evolving and ever changing, but if you can stay in tune and attuned to them, you will continue to build upon your relationship for years to come.
If have questions about the class, feel free reach out to me on Facebook or send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow this link to get the special price or enter JOY1750 at check-out.
I started writing this blog because I wanted to have deeper conversations beyond "How are you?", "Busy", with other parents. Over the years I've shared personal stories, articles, authors and topics to facilitate conversations with parents about the joys and the challenges of parenting.