When you call a parent, it’s not important whether you have anything to talk about. Making a call shows that you care. Simply calling to make a connection is what counts.
There’s no need to have long conversations or bring up topics that will generate arguments… unless there is something you want to air and attempt to resolve. Asking how they are doing or even talking about the weather does the job of making a connection.
If you’re afraid your parent will ask awkward questions, such as when are you going to get a real job, there’s no need to respond reactively. Look for the positive concern underlying the question, even if there’s more sarcasm than concern, and take the high road with your response, such as, “I appreciate your concern. I’m glad to have any job right now. Please don’t worry about my finances. I’m doing fine.”
Then switch the subject or get off the phone. “Have a great week. I’ll talk to you soon.”
The longer a person goes without calling a relative, the more resistance he or she will feel about doing it. Keeping these connections alive can mean a lot for everyone involved over the long-term, and can be particularly meaningful for parents as they age. One day you’ll be glad to hear your children on the phone asking, “How are you doing, Mom and Dad?”
by Alison Poulsen, PhD