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How often do you speak to your grown-up children on the phone?

(103 Posts)
vdas Tue 19-Feb-19 13:08:00

I'm feeling really upset and disappointed that my two lovely busy grownup daughters hardly ever phone me. I don't have a problem about phoning them, but you can bet your bottom dollar when I do, at whatever time of day or evening, it's inconvenient because they are driving, cooking, out with girlfriends, helping with homework, etc. I have friends whose daughters phone them every day, or several times a week. I'm interested in what my girls and my grandchildren are doing and I miss them. At the moment I'm feeling not just mildly disappointed, but getting cross. What I would really like to say to them is this letter, below, but maybe it's safer to send it to Gransnet . . . . . . . . ! Any advice, views, gratefully received.

"I need to write this. Life expectancy for women in the UK varies from around 89 in Kensington to 83 in Manchester. I am not planning to move to either of those places so I’m aiming for, say, 85 – another 14 years.

I would appreciate it if you would spend 15 minutes each week talking to me on the phone. Yes I know I can look at Facebook, and get all the information you broadcast to friends, people you met through work, or sat next to once on a train, the jokes, the emojis, the sentimental pictures of kittens, the cartoons featuring Donald Trump, and re-posted requests to help find lost dogs, but it’s not quite the same as a conversation.

A 15 minute phone call each week would add up to 7.58 days of time spent in conversation together between now and when I die. Talking of which, on present showing, it will be like my sister’s guinea pigs all over again. She promised to look after them, but boredom set in quite quickly. When they died (not from neglect – my Mum stepped in and cared for them) my sister failed to notice they were no longer there, for about a fortnight. And so it will be with me. You’ll ring up one day, and someone else will answer my phone, and when you ask to speak to me the answer will be ‘No you can’t, she died, a fortnight ago’.

But going back to those 7.58 days we might spend in conversation together before that happy event occurs, it’s not long is it? About the same amount of time as the week we had camping in the Lake District – your first time under canvas, and a happy wet week of pony trekking, paddling, and cooking outdoors. It went in a flash. It’s about the same length of time you spent being ill with measles. You said that went quickly and you can’t remember anything about it, but I can. Sleepless nights, trying to comfort you and do anything I could to help you feel better. Ditto chickenpox, although maybe 7.58 days is equal to two lots of chickenpox which came and went more quickly. It’s the equivalent of quite a few parents’ evenings, shopping trips, burning midnight oil to sew play costumes because you forgot to mention them until the night before the dress rehearsal.

7.58 days, counted out in hours, adds up to a few year’s worth of taxi service – Brownies, gymnastics, missed the school bus, youth club, sleepovers at Debbie’s, riding lessons. Some of those things were at unsociable hours, but I don’t mind if you ring me at times that suit you.

Yes I know I could ring you. And I do. And your answer machine message is polite and efficient. I do not want to talk to you while you’re driving. Yes I know you’re busy, and I can remember what it was like to have a full time job, teenagers, a house to clean. I also had a Mum with serious health problems, who I saw three or four times a week, took shopping, and took on outings. We enjoyed each other’s company and she said I was her rock – long before Paul Burrell claimed to be one. Thank goodness bloody Facebook hadn’t been invented then, or I might be sitting here wishing I’d spent more time communicating with her instead of remembering the laughs we had together.

Please talk to me more often, or tell me when I can ring you at a time when it isn't intrusive or inconvenient. I really miss you.

notanan2 Tue 19-Feb-19 15:32:30

P.s. I dont buy "busy".
I'm as busy as the next person.
I chat daily to the people I have things to say to daily. The people I speak to less frequently I still care about, but the conversation doesnt necessarily flow as freely with them as with the people who I talk nonsense to daily. I need a reason to call certain people otherwise its awkward.

sparkynan Tue 19-Feb-19 16:04:29

Why not invite them for Sunday lunch, have a good catch up and suggest setting up a Whats app family group. Don't moan about not speaking to them or missing them, even though you do. You need to make it fun and make them want to ring.
My late father, was a miserable old S**, he never rang me, I rang him once a week out. he did nothing but moan for 30 minutes to an hour, I hated it, and it was a real chore. When my Mum was alive, I would spend hours chatting to her and catching even though I visited her twice a week and took her out a lot. She was fun and we had a good time.

KatyK Tue 19-Feb-19 16:05:46

I don't speak to my DD very often but we text regularly. We used to do everything together but lately this has tailed off. She had her own life and has been busy with her own daughter's many activities. Now DGD is at uni, DD and myself may do more. In fact we are going out for lunch together tomorrow.

Cherrytree59 Tue 19-Feb-19 16:16:39

Vdas Hi
Its hard but as family they have to do all those things, housework, cook evening meal, help with homework, bath time bed time not mention taxi children to and from clubs.
As another poster said they are living their lives and not deliberately ignoring you.

I help with child care so see my DD every couple of days, she will sometimes give me a quick call to tell me something amusing that one of my DGS'S has said or done.

My Son, Dil and 3 yr old DGS live quite some distance away.
They have no family living nearby and so no help with child care.
I accept that they live busy lives and only speak on the phone every couple of weeks. In between times its just a quick text to make sure all is well.

When we do get together we make sure we all have a happy fun time with no hints or recriminations regarding keeping in touch.

KatyK Tue 19-Feb-19 16:25:30

I wouldn't send the letter. I think it would do more harm than good. They are not deliberately ignoring you. The letter may make them feel that they are doing this on purpose. I think my daughter would be very annoyed.

megan123 Tue 19-Feb-19 16:29:38

Hello vdas I am sorry you are upset and I hope just by writing down how you feel, it helps. Although, I wouldn't send the letter.

One of my daughters rings regularly as do her children, my youngest never calls unless she wants something!

I am with "notanan2* on this although I do think lives are very busy these days and poor old mum gets put on the back burner unless she is needed, as the above post from 27mommy illustrates, quite sad really.

I would send a text suggesting they come over for tea or something like that. I quite often send a text just saying "hope you are ok" and get a reply.

Best wishes to you, hope you can sort something out flowers

Luckygirl Tue 19-Feb-19 16:35:10

I hope that writing this has got it all off your chest - because if I were you I would very definitely NOT send it!!!

First of all it has an inherent guilt trip in it - I am not going to live much longer so just think how bad you will feel when I pop my clogs and you realise how seldom you kept in touch! - no way would I load that upon my loved ones!!!

And you are TBH making yourself sound very needy - and being harassed by someone needy, even if it is your Mum, is a huge turn-off.

Why not send them something POSITIVE?

Here's an example:

"Hello dear children
I would love to set up a WhatsApp group for us all to keep in touch, as I enjoy hearing your news. I know what busy and productive lives you all have and am thinking this might be an easy way for us all to keep in touch. I am so proud of all you have achieved and all that you do, and will look forward to hearing your news.
Love, Mum xxx"

I have a "Dear Daughters" WhatsApp group and they all use it a lot; and they are able to keep in touch with each other that way too - so we are all in the loop.

Try not to sound as if you are harbouring a grudge - if you sound positive then they are far more likely to respond positively themselves.

KatyK Tue 19-Feb-19 16:41:45

Lovely post Lucky. My DD and me have a WhatsApp group set up and 'chat' on it regularly. It works fine.

dragonfly46 Tue 19-Feb-19 16:44:13

Both my AC live a long way away. My son rings every week on his way home from work. My daughter rings less often but if I ring her she is thrilled. She did ring the other day and I told her how much I loved speaking to her.
Never guilt trip your children, it will have the adverse effect. My MiL used to do that and it was awful.

Poppyred Tue 19-Feb-19 17:03:43

She’s only asking for 15 minutes once a week!!

sodapop Tue 19-Feb-19 17:15:57

Good post Luckygirl I agree with your comments entirely. We may not like it vdas but communication has changed and phone calls are few and far between at least with my family. We keep in touch daily via Whatsapp with pictures, messages and voice messages,.
I hope you feel better now you see you are not alone with this. Your open letter did remind me of a song which said much the same thing and I can't remember the title.

SalsaQueen Tue 19-Feb-19 17:23:18

My 2 sons are in their 30s, both have their own homes very close to where I live (less than a mile away)

The eldest son has children who live with their mother (he has them every other weekend, and more during the school holidays. He texts me every day, and I see him at least once a week.

My other son has an hour's drive to work, he has a very stressful job. He lives alone, hasn't got children. He does everything at home, of course, and he has a busy social life. I see him once a fortnight. He's not great at replying to texts I send, but he rings when he needs advice about things.

Farmor15 Tue 19-Feb-19 17:27:39

I actually don't much like talking on the phone, so don't expect or even enjoy chatting to my children on the phone that much! We have a WhatsApp group, and I like seeing photos and hearing what they're up to - prefer that to talking. They do ring sometimes anyway.
With my own mother, we used to have a weekly chat, usually on a Sunday night, and it was usually she who rang me. We certainly didn't have daily phone calls, even when she was very old.
Obviously people differ in how often they expect phone calls from their children, but if it's only done out of duty/guilt I don't think it's worth much. Personally I prefer doing things with children/grandchildren eg going for coffee or lunch.

megan123 Tue 19-Feb-19 17:32:38

That's interesting sodapop and when I look at the OP I now wonder myself.

ginny Tue 19-Feb-19 17:44:27

WattsApp is the best idea for keeping family or friends in the loop. However I don’t think anyone is really so busy that they can’t spare a few minutes now and then to give their Mum a call or have a chat if she calls them. Nothing like actually hearing a loved ones voice.

grannyqueenie Tue 19-Feb-19 17:45:26

I’m another who wouldn’t be sending that letter as it is. My mother did a good line in guilt trips e.g. to me “Hello, stranger, I did wonder you when you were going to ring..” ( I used to ring at least once a week!), to a friend of mine who visited her after my dad died “Oh I thought you’d forgotten the way to this house”. Sadly she never understood why any of this was off putting and didn’t really encourage anyone to put themselves in the firing line again!

Now I’m the granny, the reality is that my adult children have busy lives with many commitments and I’m not necessarily their 1st port of call these days. Yes at times that can rankle or disappoint me, but I’m
proud of the careers they have and how committed they are to their children as well as the voluntary work
they do. That’s because I’m confident that if “the s**t hits the fan”, as indeed it did in the family recently, they’d all rally round and rise to the challenge of supporting us and each other. That’s enough for me!

Bridgeit Tue 19-Feb-19 17:47:57

When they need me😄
And the lovely odd occasions when they call to make sure I’m still breathing 😄

Farmor15 Tue 19-Feb-19 17:52:54

This might be the song/poem you were thinking of sodapop though it's actually the reverse of the way OP was thinking.

Deedaa Tue 19-Feb-19 17:53:25

DD and DS both live about 10 minutes away from me (in opposite directions). DD and I talk on the phone a lot actually but we always have done. DS doesn't phone much but we have very long and involved text conversations - the sort of things we used to talk about at one in the morning when he lived at home! We all tend to phone rather than meet because we can have a good rant about stuff without the children.

annodomini Tue 19-Feb-19 18:46:24

Both sons phone me at least once a week. If there's something I need to tell them, I phone them. Quite often, DS2 phones me from the car which I'm not entirely happy about, but he insists that as he has hands-free, it's quite safe. When DS1 was away for a couple of weeks in Australia and I was in NZ, we managed to speak on Whatsapp.

FlexibleFriend Tue 19-Feb-19 18:49:30

I have two sons and see one face to face every day and speak to the other one most days probably 5 days out of 7 and tbh he can talk for England. It's rare for those phone calls to last less than an hour and frequently last for two. They both have the kind of jobs that allow them to chat a lot so in that respect I'm lucky and I leave them to call me I just text them occasionally to remind them of things.

Grandma70s Tue 19-Feb-19 18:51:19

I have two sons, neither of whom live near enough for frequent visits. One is married with young children, one isn’t. The one who isn’t rings me almost every day, which I value very much because I live alone. The married one rings much less often. He has never enjoyed talking on the phone, and says I am the only person he actually speaks to - otherwise texting is the norm. We use iMessaging quite a lot, but I don’t hear as much about the children as I’d like, either from him or his wife.

I do recognise that his time is just about entirely full, at least during the week. Also, to his generation texting is the same as talking, whereas I like to hear a voice.

Blencathra Tue 19-Feb-19 18:55:54

I think it is a good idea for you to write it down - therapeutic. It isn’t a good idea to send it- it will do far more harm than good.
I would suggest setting up a family WhatsApp group- we find that works well - we can just send a message as and when.
I didn’t phone my mother much when young. Now that she is in her 90s I phone her everyday. Perhaps they will do the same if you get to be very elderly.

matson Tue 19-Feb-19 18:56:47

Vdas, send your letter, let your children know how you really feel without pussy footing around their feelings. If they can't give you 15 mins, then you know where you stand with them,.. hurtful as it maybe.

Telly Tue 19-Feb-19 18:57:24

Same here. I phone them, but to be honest I only hear from them when they want something. I understand why you felt the need to write the letter, but I would not send it. Instead make your life more fulfilled so that you are not constantly striving for something that you don't have and they are unwilling or unable to fulfil.