Anyhoo, a few weeks ago, while chatting with a fellow mom, she let me in on a little secret:
“Our ‘coolness’ lifespan is getting shorter and shorter,” she said.
(Of course, we have to assume that we were ever actually cool, but that’s another conversation.)
She went on to explain that, generations ago, parents were first considered an embarrassment when their child turned about 13-14 years old. Later, by the age of 10, an outward cringe was necessary when hugged by mom in public (I think I was in this generation). And now, in 2014, the same mom confided that her 8-year old rarely spoke to her for more than 2 minutes at a stretch – preferring to chat via Facebook or text emojis to her little girlfriends instead.
“I’m just not cool anymore,” she complained. “I mean, I knew it was coming, but I didn’t think I’d be the dweeb parent for at least a few more years!”
Yikes. Ryder is almost 6 – how much more time will I have with him? When will he begin to walk 5 feet ahead of me – barely looking back as I hurry to keep up? What or who the heck are Skylanders?
Now I know my coolness lifespan is sadly out of my control – I’m really not willing to bleach out the tips of my hair, sport Justin Bieber nail polish or follow Lil Wayne on Twitter. At the same time, I don’t believe parents have to ride off into the sunset – there are less dramatic ways of connecting with your kids and tapping into their world (without changing the pre-sets on your car radio).
So I polled the experts – moms of tweens who make a concerted effort to connect with their kids. And a very interesting trend arose early on – it seems that in today’s crazy world (parents working, organized sports, music lessons, round-the-clock computer usage, etc.) – the only time these moms were really having a conversation with their children was via the little pockets of time they had strategically carved out: in doctor’s waiting rooms, on the way to hockey practice, while dinner was being made (not consumed, contrary to popular belief), and during television commercial breaks. In essence, while “waiting” for other, more essential tasks to take over. After hearing the suggestions, I was inspired to share their relationship-building techniques.
(Family game night? Puh-lease. It just does not exist outside Hasbro’s marketing department, according to my sample group.)
So how does a busy mom keep in touch with her kids? By making every moment count. And that means creating bonding opportunities in 10-minute intervals. Here are some tips and tricks that I’ve put aside for when my coolness factor wears thin:
1. Buy a teen magazine. Take it with you when you’re stuck in waiting rooms with your children, are attending a sibling’s sporting event, or have a few moments alone on a quiet afternoon. And read it together. Ask your daughter to explain the fascination with Harry Styles. (Is that his real last name? Cause it’s awesome.) Giggle as you read each other’s horoscope. And let her know which mini skirts are approved – and which are definitely a no-no. You’d be surprised where the conversation goes, and many topics you come across can actually serve as an ice breaker for things you’ve already had on you mind.
2. Let your kids know more about their elders by playing “Guess Who”. The next time you’re in a car ride, tell your kids a tale about yourself, their father, uncle, grandma, etc. and have them guess who did the deed. I tried this game with a friend’s 10-year old son and his eyes literally popped out of his head when he learned that his father once shaved his legs after he lost a bet. He retold the story to his siblings, and the whole family had a laugh at poor dad’s expense. The point is, it’s just as important to talk about yourself as it is to try to get your children to open up.
3. Feign ignorance. Young children are always excited to be asked for their opinion or help, especially if it’s outside the realm of normal everyday chores. The next time you’re cooking dinner, pretend you’re not sure which pasta to use – penne or spaghetti? Forget how to mix a pitcher of juice. Or ask for an official taste tester when baking cookies. Once you’ve lured them in, use the opportunity to chat with them about whatever comes to mind, especially those touchy subjects which are best discussed in a light-hearted way. Moms that I talked to insisted that it’s during the preparation of a meal – not the meal itself – where they were able to make the most of their child’s time and attention.
4. Talk just to talk. Sometimes kids just want to talk, but our parental instincts take over and we turn the conversation into a lecture or an opportunity to teach them something. Bah! Kids don’t always need to be preached at; it is okay to chat with them without having to prove a point. An example: When I was about 12 years old, I told my mom about a girl at school who lost her math textbook (covered with a New Kids on the Block book cover, of course). My mom instantly launched into a lecture of why it’s important to keep your belongings secure, yada, yada, yada – when all I was looking for was a “Gee, that’s too bad!” Sometimes an important goal in communicating with kids is simply talking just to talk.
5. When all else fails, create 10 minutes of quality time. Drop in their room before they go to sleep. Press mute during TV commercials. Get into the habit of waking a little earlier so you’re not rushing around in the morning. Take a moment to call them from work if you know they’re already home. It’s so important to continually find moments to connect and make every moment count.
I think I’ll be saving this blog post for when my little guys are little older. Thankfully, as both are under 6 years old, I’m still part of their inner circle (although my husband definitely outranks me). I’d love to hear more suggestions of how to stay connected when your coolness factor runs out – and to all the moms who work hard to stay relevant in their child’s life – y’all TOTALLY rock!
Chandra Christine O'Connor
good ideas, I think Im still cool they think weird lol weird is good
Weird is good! LOL
I have graduated from “cool mom” to “cool Nana” – I must be doing something right LOL !
I have no clue why they think that – maybe because I know instinctively what they like (clothing, games,activities etc) ? I also let them talk out their day without interrupting them (or at least interjecting a “wow” or “oh, that’s a shame” every now and then).
Cool Nanas are the best :) You’re awesome Flora!
I dunno, I think my mom is cool. lol
Judy C (Judy Cowan)
Good pointers, not sure a mom can be cool 100% of the time but it can be fun trying!
Ha! I don’t think I’ll ever be cool :)
I have been trying to do tip #5 on a regular basis. Just a chance for my girls and I to check in and spend at least some quality time each crazy day together.
That’s so good to hear, Heidi!
never had a problem with my girls, in fact I couldn’t even leave the house by myself without hearing I’m coming, they both think I’m cool, weird, nuts and funny, I’m their friend but they also know when I’m their mother and not to push my buttons.
That sounds like a wonderful balance Lynda!
It does hurt to lose your cool mom status, my daughter started at about 13 or 14, but now that she’s older I’m cool again in her eyes, and I LOVE it.
Aw, love that! And thanks for confirming the “uncool” age, LOL
It is all about relationship, so yes spending as much quality time with your children is the most important.
Couldn’t agree more!
I have daughters and I don’t want them reading silly magazines like that. Haha, I think we’ll deal with that when we get there.
Like you said, just listening is important.
My sibs still have family game nights all the time. Really! And they’re 10- 16. And they’re the Hasbro type board games too. It does exist.
That is so refreshing to hear! My boys are too young for games night, so I’m always interested in hearing what others are up to.
Just wear a leather jacket. it makes anyone cool.
Uh huh, I don’t think so!
Hope your ankles are better now too ! Missing your posts :)
Still recovering :)
i;m sorry … i have to comment before reading past the 1st section …
if an 8 year old is texting and using facebook rather than talking to his/her mother then something has gone terribly awry.
my son is 10 and he has electronic limits, does not text or use any social media and is perfectly fine with that at his age. yikes!
I think there is an age requirement for Facebook too – think it is 13, so that 8 year old shouldn’t even be ON Facebook to begin with – the parents need a smack up the side of the head with a reality check LOL !!
I know, scary right??? I hope my little guys stay naive to social for as long as possible!
And signing up for a FB account is as simple as lying about your date of birth – but in those cases, that’s the parents responsibility to kick them off!
and we ABSOLUTELY have family games nights – since they were old enough to play games – and my kids love it! it’s quality time – be it cards or board games or sometimes mario kart on the wii. whatever it is it’s time together and we make that a priority.
So wonderful to hear, Angie!
These are great ideas! I will be revisiting # 4 because I tend to want to solve the problem for my daughter instead of just listening and sympathizing. Although my 8 yr still kisses me before bed, I am only allowed a hug at the bus stop.
Aw, hang on to that bus stop hug. I love that.
i am dreading the day my kids don’t want anything to do with me.my oldest is almost 5 and will be starting kindergarten this year. my youngest is almost 2 and is still very much a mommys boy. while it will be nice to have some one on one time with my youngest it will be a huge adjustment because ive been home with my oldest since he was born.
Both my boys are still very clingy, so it will be an adjustment for me too. Not looking forward to it!
I love number 4. My mother turned EVERYTHING into a lecture which completely turned me off of sharing anything with her, whether good or bad or meaningless.
Thank you so much for the feedback, Victoria – I’ll definitely keep that in mind as the boys grow!
Hello?! I’m darn cool ! lol!
I just got back from a heavy metal rock cruise where I was sporting my (usual) white and blue streaked hair. Got tons on compliments on my skull accessories too. My son thinks I suck just cause because I didn’t take him along :D
But really – I do have to keep up with the world of computer games to be able to talk with my son. Minecraft, Train simulators and many more that I have no clue about. I found just listening to him talk about his current obsession keeps him open and happy to share.
You are amazing, Lisa! And I’d love to see a picture of your hair!!
Okay! But I’m not one for posting selfies all over, so I’ll email you a pic.
well so far I’m the cool mom, but yet again my boys are still young lol but the oldest is 6 and he will not be getting a phone or facebook for a long time so he will have to still talk to me lol
That’s the way to go, Clair!
Haha i dont get the cool mom thing… I never thought my mother was cool growing up.. and my son probably isnt going to think Im cool. too many rules haha
Yup, I’m definitely NOT cool in my boys’ eyes, LOL