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When parents and kids communicate
via text, there's a lot of potential for miscommunication. Smug Millennials may
have launched a thousand memes off the seemingly LMAOROFL ways their parents
text. But take it from this Gen X mom: I'm afraid for future generations.
My worst fear used to be that my
kids would grow up to be the kind of teens who would communicate in text
language, typing "u" instead of "you", KWIM? My children's generation is getting
smart phones at unprecedented young ages—pretty much every sixth grader we
know owns one—meaning their language skills are still quite young and tender
when we are giving them the ability to smash proper spelling and grammar to
bits with just a few taps of their thumbs.
Since my 12-year-old recently got an iPhone,
we've started sending each other messages. He lets me know when he's staying
after school for tutoring; I let him know if I'm running late to pick him up.
It's great. Or it was great…
It's just so much easier to find a snarky image than to actually, you know, think of words.
The other day, he jumped into my
car and grabbed my phone, telling me to turn on the emoji keyboard. Without
waiting for me to answer that I actually wanted
access to a full range of smiley faces and cute animals, he started scrolling
to the settings, and now I have an emoji keyboard.
Just like Facebook's introduction
of stickers a few weeks ago threatened to reduce otherwise articulate, grown
adults into smiley cats and lattes, it's just so much easier to find a snarky
image than to actually, you know, think of words. For the tweens who aren't
even done acquiring their vocabulary yet, really…why bother?
I was stuck in traffic on my way to
the middle school one day and this is the text I get:
French fries, coffee cups, wine
glasses, flora and fauna, and very angry red faces fill four text bubbles
before words finally appear.
Another time, I get just lots of mad faces while my kids are waiting for me to pick up a few things at Target.
Sometimes, the texts remind me that
my 12-year-old is still just a little boy at heart.
Then, there are other times when I
am driving (gotta get to the middle school pickup line before those angry faces
start filling my screen), I hand my phone to my 9-year-old and ask him to reply
to his brother's texts.
But just like the generation before
mine is lurching toward the future one awkward text at a time, I hope my
children will someday find a happy medium between the Queen's English and a
screen full of emoticons.
Until then, I guess I'll just have
to learn to text with to my kids in terms they can understand.