Sunday, June 5, 2016

The Seven Percent Solution - Or Not

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,
My teenage son just told me that he does spend a lot of time with his friends talking and having fun, after I “lost it” and told him (for the hundredth time) that he and his friends need to learn how to talk with other people and put their “gadgets” down.

Sam (not his real name) said his friends don’t want to come over anymore because “I make them talk!” I make them put down their phones, get off Facebook, turn off their music and talk. At least I care enough to try to get these boys to not be socially awkward.

He has two friends in particular who hang around here waiting to be invited over for dinner or to eat treats that I make after school. They all get good grades in school but none can carry on a single sentence conversation!

It’s frustrating to watch teenage boys act like they have never been told that it’s rude to be involved in another conversation (on their phones) when someone is talking to them. Or it is inappropriate to monopolize the computer while also having earphones and music on. My twin 11-year-old daughters’ can’t get their homework done.

I told my son that everyone in my house has to learn some manners and decent communication. I also told him that everything isn’t about seeking amusement and sharing things that are funny or ridiculous.

I told Sam these are our rules. He said he’s going to move in with his dad now.

Mom of a Socially Awkward Kid

Dear Mom of Sam,

We agree with you that your son and his friends need to learn a few social skills. Everyone, about 25 and under, does.

We understand your frustration, however, please know that this has become the “norm” for this generation, especially in the last five to eight years.

In our hurry up-society, it’s simply “inconvenient” to actually take the time to talk personally to someone. Our society doesn’t even like listening to voice mail because it takes too much time.

With this mentality, the current culture seems more interested in sharing pseudo-selves that are created with endless media and shared in endless ways.

This leads to three current societal outcomes:

    The social illness of narcissism

    The youth of today’s civilization is having an increasing difficulty knowing how to Define Yourself Before Others Do™

    True communication is almost non-existent. Body language and tone of voice equal 93 percent of communication. Only 7 percent is composed of words.

How we (generations older than 25) may help:

• To combat narcissism: set boundaries, say no when necessary, and teach by example

• Teach kids to define themselves with our 5 C’s: Civility, Courage, Confidence, Creativity, and strong Carriage (stand tall, eye contact, speak clearly)

• Model true communication with C.L.A.S.S.™: Connect (compliment others and be attentive), Listen (listen more than speak), Ask (who, what, where, when, why, and how), Summarize (tell the other what you heard them say), Suggest (an activity based on the other person you are communicating with and not yourself)

With the advent of the internet, social media, Instagram for sharing pictures, SnapChat, texting, Facebook, emojis, superficial communication has become rampant.

Helping your son and his friends to stop hiding behind technology and to, instead, shine by their lonesome and well defined selves, is something all moms may inspire to do by example first.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

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