Parents Using Technology to Communicate


Many years ago, my wife and I started communicating during the day by email. As a lawyer, I spend most of my day at my desk. As a teacher, my wife has the opportunity for planning time at her computer. As parents, we have the early morning rush getting the kids off to school and the evening rush getting the kids bathed and off to bed.

Our daily time together did not afford us the luxury of extended communication; therefore, we relied upon email to discuss important matters. My wife’s friend was shocked. He couldn’t believe that we did not have the time to discuss things face to face. He thought it was ridiculous that technology had become our staple for communication.

Face to face communication is important, and can’t be replaced; however, in today’s society, technology is an important tool to enhance communication, and it should not be overlooked. Technology can especially be effective for divorced parents.

Email and texting are lifesavers for divorced parents who do not communicate well. It is not uncommon for conversations to become angry and profanity-laced. By sharing emails and text messages, parents can relay the important factual information without getting embroiled in conflict. When speaking (not writing), divorced parents have a tendency to react immediately to the other parent. The conversation deteriorates quickly while the parents get caught up in the emotions rather than the information. Emails and texts can help parents move beyond the emotional reactions.

The problem with email and texting, however, is that they can help parents avoid the serious conversations that are necessary to heal and move beyond the conflict. A website called JournalForTwo.com may help in that regard. JournalForTwo.com is a private, online communications journal that is intended for use by two people. Members use the journal to communicate in an open and honest way without embarrassment or face-to-face confrontation. The JournalForTwo.com website says that it “provides enough distance for both parties to feel relaxed about sharing their innermost thoughts and feelings.”

Technology can also be used for organizing. It is difficult enough to juggle activities, school, and work in one household. It is further complicated when the juggling act involves two households. There are now companies that provide organizing and calendaring services on the internet. By using a service such as OurFamilyWizard.com or ShareKids.com, parents can post important appointments and activities to a shared calendar. They can communicate about exchange times and locations. They can also communicate about medical and other shared expenses. Everything is all in one place so the information can be posted at the convenience of the parent and read at the convenience of the other parent.



Don’t Get Scrooged

For some reason, the book, “Don’t Get Scrooged”, called to me from its place amongst countless other books on the library shelf. I pulled it from its slot, and reviewed its cover.

How to thrive in a world full of Obnoxious, Incompetent, Arrogant, and Downright Mean-Spirited People.

This book sounded interesting. It’s within the realm of my work as a lawyer. It’s written by Richard Carlson, the author of “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff”. And it’s timely, as the holidays are just around the corner.

As I read through the book, I recognized it has many communication and relationship lessons families can use everyday, not just Christmas Day. Carlson writes, “Although airing your grievances with others may help you feel less alone and on rare occasion gets you good advice, more often than not it keeps you stuck in a bad mood.”

He explains that when some scrooge wrongs us, we spend time thinking about the incident and growing angry and resentful. Meanwhile, the offending scrooge has moved on without any further thought. “You, not the offending person, are the one who is suffering.”

Carlson says to quit rehearsing their wrongs. Quit rehearsing your rights. Only you can fix what’s running through your heart and head. Free yourself.

Carlson then goes on to offer practical advice that I will now share with you, and apply it to your daily family life.

Tip #1 – If people are not fulfilling your needs, or are walking all over you, you may not be clearly communicating what you need from them. You must take responsibility for your needs by clearly stating your rules and enforcing them. People learn what you will tolerate by your words and actions.

Tip #2 – Let scrooges win when it only has a short-term effect. Let them have their way, avoid them, and let them think they won. Why change your routine or habits or inconvenience yourself? Carlson answers, “To stay sane and happy, that’s why…You wouldn’t be changing your routine for (the scrooge). You’d be changing your routine for you.”

Tip #3 – Respect others and build a rapport with them. You’re not looking to manipulate others; rather, you are seeking to build a connection. “Once that connection is made, the person you’re working with will do everything in his or her power to help you.”

Tip #4 – Smile and keep a good mood. “If a bad mood can rub off on others, why not a good one?”

Tip #5 – Stop before you respond immediately to a scrooge. “Feeling wronged sets off our adrenaline and our instinctual fight-or-flight mechanism, but pausing puts us back in control, creating a sense of spaciousness, choice, and calm.” Pausing gives you perspective and may help you avoid worsening the situation.

Tip #6 – Expect less. If you already expect an unsatisfying outcome, why are you disappointed when that outcome occurs? Be realistic and plan accordingly. The outcome will be more bearable and less stressful.

Tip #7 – Scrooges don’t change because you made them change. You can lend them a hand, if they ask. You can point out impending disasters that they don’t see. The scrooge, however, is the only person that can make the change.