My 15-year-old son is one of the kids we all see with his nose buried in his phone texting constantly—in restaurants, walking down the sidewalk, riding in the car, watching a movie . . . and it drives me CRAZY! Yes, I am something of a hypocrite because I have my own iPhone addiction issues, but this isn’t about me. Unlike him, I can put my phone down, really I can. I can quit any time.

My son is also very typical in the ways he relates to me. We have moments of blissful, funny, in-depth conversations, and then there are the other 23 hours, 45 minutes of the day where getting even the most trivial information (like what he wants for dinner or whether he has any homework) from him is painful for both of us. All the child development experts espouse the need for open communication between parents and teenagers. I agree wholeheartedly, but it just isn’t easy!

In the spirit of “meet him where he’s at,” I have resorted to texting my son. This strategy works. He will “talk” to me and tell me things by text that he might not tell me face to face. This is also a successful strategy for this child who splits his time between my house and his dad’s.

A couple of months ago I texted him while he traveled with another parent and fellow team members to a distant basketball game. I wished him luck and said the requisite mom thing, “I love you.” Amidst several of his peers, he replied, “I love you too.” This exchange wouldn’t have happened face to face and certainly not openly in front of his friends.

Texting teenagers

More recently, he texted me on the first morning of my new job. He had stayed overnight with his dad, but on his way to school he remembered it was my big day. He said, “Good luck today broski” [sic]. (I can’t explain why he sometimes calls me “broski.” It is some form of “bro” and meant to be funny. This seems like one of those things we might laugh about a couple of decades from now. Or not.)

Have I caved to my son’s addiction? Am I enabling him? Maybe, but I will do whatever it takes to keep us talking through these sometimes difficult years. Thank goodness we have the unlimited texting plan.

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