Maybe you saw the texting conversations that went viral this week. It all started with a Twitter post from a teenage girl:

deep convos with ur dad >>>>

That tweet struck a nerve with many other teens, who shared screen shots of similar text “nonversations” with their dads (and granddads).

For one daughter, her dad’s one-word texts all said “Here.” She commented: “The only reason I would talk to my dad was when he was picking me up from school.”

Are these isolated cases, or signs of a communication gap between dads and their kids in today’s culture?

Now, some of this is understandable. Many dads are busy, juggling many responsibilities, and we just need to communicate something quickly and move on to the next thing. And texting can be so impersonal, sometimes even baffling for dads. Can anything meaningful really happen with a text? We’d prefer to do that in person or at least an actual voice conversation.

So, it happens …

“Ok”

“Here”

“Yes”

“No”

It is understandable, but do our short texts communicate that we don’t have time for our kids, or we aren’t interested in them? We don’t mean them that way, but that could be the underlying message they’re getting.

On the other hand, maybe we can approach texting with them as opportunities, if we apply ourselves a little.

First, if we look beneath the shared frustration these teenagers are expressing, there’s an encouraging sign: they want deeper connections with their dads—especially daughters. It probably involves a lot more than texts back and forth, and it may require us to change some well-established negative patterns with our kids. It might feel strange or uncomfortable at first. But maybe those changes are exactly what our relationships need.

And second, texting is likely here to stay for our kids. Now, sometimes it’s good for families to take a radically different approach than where the culture is. Some may apply that to cell phones and texting, and that’s admirable.

But for most dads, our kids have phones and probably know them better than we do. And if that’s where our kids are, that’s where we should be also, to whatever degree we can. That means …

We can find positive ways to connect with our kids, even while texting. Imagine a screenshot of your recent texts with your child. What messages would you find, and what better messages can you come up with?  Maybe:

“I believe in you.”

“You’re incredible.”

Or, if you prefer even shorter options:

“Proud.”

“Awesome.”

“ILY.”

Maybe you can come up with your own short acronym that only you and your child know. And here’s an emoji that should be often-used:

(The sign for “I love you.”)

If you’ve been one of those “Ok” texting dads, then you might get a “Who’s this?” response. Or maybe your child will respond with this emoji:But in this case, it’s a good thing. And keep it up, because over time your affirmation and encouragement—yes, even through texting—will make a difference in your child’s life and in your relationship.

We need more ideas here. How do you use texting to encourage and affirm your kids? Post your ideas on our Facebook page.

You can also send a positive message to your child with a small gift. See our options here.