Being a Better ParentHumorRaising Teenagers

Communication Breakdown? Start Writing…

I’ve been thinking that the joke about “people texting each other inside the same house” might not be such a bad idea. Or carrying around a white board. Or sticking notes in lunch bags.  According to a study released last week from Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital, 1 in 5 teens now has at least a slight hearing loss, due possibly to iPod volume.  The study, conducted with almost 5,000 kids, showed slight hearing loss increasing in the past 15 years, with the number classified as “mild or worse” increasing by 70 percent (1 in 20).  (Oh, so when my kids say “Mom, you never reminded me” when I’ve told them something important and then they forget—it might not be a lame excuse?) 


Hearing loss or not, written words might just be a great “extra” way to communicate with kids. It would definitely help younger children build their writing and reading skills. And it might be a way for parents to say a lot to teens who think everything over two words is a “lecture”.  (I once read about a mom who wrote letters to her teen daughter and stuck them under her bedroom door once in awhile.  It was a way for her to give advice to a girl who “didn’t want to hear it.”  The mom figured the daughter probably just threw them away, but years later, the daughter showed her she’d opened and read them all and had saved them all, they had meant so much to her!)  I also remember, from my years working at a community college and giving “learning styles tests “, that people understand things best in different ways—there are those who learn best through hearing, those who need to get “hands on” to understand a concept, and those who need visual elements for something to sink into their brain, like pictures, or words.


Lately I have noticed a few other positives with the written word as a way to communicate.  My teen is usually a lot more polite in phone texts—I see the words “thanks” a whole lot more than I hear it.  And when she’s not polite, it’s not quite as annoying in print as it is in person.  I mean, reading “WHERE R U?!! U WERE SUPPOSED TO PICK ME UP!!!!” is so much better than having it yelled in my ear.


Of course, as I mentioned in a previous post, writing things down is often necessary for us to communicate with our French foreign exchange student.  But sometimes it can be a case of the blind leading the blind, if we don’t spell things right.  (“CYOTE” read one scrap of paper I found, as Andy tried to let her know about the wild animal that has been stalking our neighborhood…I don’t think she found that one in her English-French dictionary! ) It got really confusing when my teen tried to help her understand a science assignment.  Go figure– her first week in AP Environmental Science, and the teacher has them read Dr. Seuss’s “The Lorax” as a parallel to the study of sustainable development and deforestation.  Can you imagine her confusion with the English word combinations, and the “unique” words that Theodor Geisel is famous for creating? My daughter tried her best to explain “Grickle-grass”.  And a “Once-ler”, who lives in a “Lerkim”, in clothes made out of “miff-muffered moof”. (Gee, even my MS Word spell check is going crazy…)  It’s hard enough explaining everyday stuff like “homecoming mum” and “armadillo” to her, let alone a Snuvv (that lives in a gruvvulous glove…)


“I don’t understand the questions,” our exchange student said later, as she tried to fill out a worksheet about the book.

“It’s okay,” I told her.  “Just write your teacher a note.”