High Stakes

What I Learned About Communication From My 16-year-old

Cross another boyfriend off the list. What, I asked, happened to this promising two-week relationship? She answered succinctly, “He was a boring texter.”


Apparently, the reports of the death of the written word have been greatly exaggerated. It’s important to my Millennial. She communicates with words (and photos and emojis) all day long. She’s thoughtful about what she sends. Her texts with me are different than her texts to her friends. Her texts with senior boys are subtly different than those with her male buddies from her own class. I can usually tell with whom she is snap-chatting by how silly her photos are. Her Tweets are not the same as what she posts to Facebook, even if the subject matter is the same. (Apparently Facebook is cool again? She eschewed it for a couple of years, but she’s back. Just FYI.)

She’s subconsciously doing something I struggle with every day. She’s getting the right message to the right audience at the right time using the right medium.

So maybe there’s something we “professionals” can learn from our teenagers. I’ve put together a list.

  • Don’t be boring. Boring = no girlfriend.
  • Get to the point. If you have to scroll, it’s too long.
  • Everything needs a photo. It doesn’t illustrate the point, it often IS the point.
  • Think before you hit send. You can’t take it back.
  • Understand your audience. What will he/she be most interested in?
  • Be responsive. If you wait too long to answer, they’ve moved on.
  • Even the small stuff deserves attention. Eating a sandwich? Take a photo. Passed your driving test? Send a group text. Witnessed a cool sunset? Tweet it!
  • If you didn’t document it, it didn’t happen. Every moment must be photographically memorialized.

What have you learned from your kid lately?


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