In honor of Alec Baldwin calling his daughter a "rude, thoughtless pig" because she did not answer his phone call (when he called at a pre-arranged time), I am presenting some low-tech and high-tech options for alieniated dads to help them communicate with their kids. I discussed my own personal thoughts about this on the Silicon Valley Moms Blog.
10. READ SOME BOOKS ON COMMUNICATION WITH KIDS - The low tech solution is to read some books to understand how to talk to kids in the first place. For younger kids the book "How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk" can help with communication. Or buy "Kidisms: What They Say and What They Really Mean" for yourself and "Dadisms: What He Says And What He Really Means" for your kids . This will help find alternatives to the word "pig" when communicating with your child. Unless you are talking about a farm.
9. USE SOCIAL NETWORKING: If you have college or adult kids, ask nicely if they participate in any of the online social networks. For those Dads who don't know what internet social networking is - read Wikipedia, the Red Herring article and look at the site Hitwise that recently published a list of Internet social networking sites used.
If they use social networking, ask if you can be added to their "friends" or just read their blog if it is public. Many will list their interests, blurbs and what they are up to. Again, don't use any rude language if they say no. But if they do, comment on their blog or send their profile a message mentioning how "cool" their site is. Ask nicely that they do not post too much personal information on the social networking sites or meet with strangers. And if they restrict access only to their friends or use passwords. Say that you ask because you love them (not that you do not trust them).
8. TWITTER OR INSTANT MESSAGE WITH YOUR KIDS: See if you child wants to add you as
their Twitter friend (for kids over 13). Then you can see what they doing every moment of
the day, just like when they were young. Be careful not to enter your
own twitter judgements like "I sitting at home worried that my daughter is going on a date with a guy that seems irresponsible". That deserves a phone call at least. Which goes on to the next point, if they don't use Twitter ask them if you can instant message or text them on their phone. And say that a one word text response is fine if they are busy. Tell them you know about the instant message text abbreviations <grin> <smirk> <chuckle>.
7. GET SOME EXAMPLE QUOTES: Look at BrainyQuotes to get an example of what Dads are quoted as saying. See which type of Dad you want to be in quotes. For some creative alternatives, look at what William Shakespeare said. I don't think he said the word "pig".
6. EMAIL (including E-Cards): Ask for their email address and say they can get back to you when they have time. But remember, emails are permanent documentation so if you get upset they have not replied, deal with it by keeping it to yourself. You can even email them cute electronic cards saying you miss them. Here is a good example of animated Amazon E-cards that show you miss your child without using bad words....
5. SKYPE: Well, Skype is free and can be used around the world. Send your child a video camera and you can both use Skype to video conference. But, if they use social networking sending a video camera can be dangerous.
4. GET THEM A PHONE CARD: Get them a phone card and ask that they use it somewhat regularly. Promise that the call will just be a quick hi (and keep your promise unless they want to talk). Don't leave any messages reminding them that they have not called. That does not work.
3. SEND THEM A DIGITAL CAMERA AND ASK THAT THEY SHARE SOME PICTURES WITH YOU: A picture is worth a few words at least. Help them find a good online photo sharing site if they don't have a blog or want to use email to send the pictures.
2. SEND THEM AN AIRLINE GIFT CARD (If they live far away). Say they can use the airline gift card when they want, or you can fly to see them. If they say they don't want to see you, ask them if you can socialize online with the other options listed. If that does not work.....
THE NUMBER 1 WAY FOR ALIENATED DADS TO COMMUNICATE WITH THEIR KIDS: HAVE AN HONEST TALK (AND BE PATIENT). Just say you miss them, you want to see them and that you can make it happen when they are ready. No technology needed.