Five Ways to TRY To Get Your Adult Child's Attention

Now, this may not apply to all our HooplaHa readers, but perhaps you can adapt my experience to your benefit if you are trying to get someone to pay attention to you. It doesn’t have to be an ungrateful child you’re targeting – it could be anyone you want to respond.

Let me put my situation in context:  My beloved 22-year-old No. 2 son lives many hours away and, as a recent college graduate, is still struggling to snag a job in the profession for which he earned a college degree -- and is still on the family cell phone plan.

Since we’re paying for the phone, shouldn’t we expect him to use it to contact his benefactors occasionally?

However, this child apparently is too busy to call or text his Angel Mother on a regular basis, which is the source of much aggravation and frustration because not only do I miss hearing from him, I would prefer regular reassurances that he has not been abducted, joined a cult or, heaven forbid, become too busy for his mother.

I am beginning to take this silence personally. It has occurred to me that perhaps his odd and lengthy work hours and a very full social life make it difficult to stay in touch, but when the cell phone bill reflects a zillion texts monthly, can’t one be sent to me? (And yes, I realize I should have trained him better.)

OK, perhaps by now you are weary of my whining and would prefer I get to the my suggestions for ways to get a young adult child to pay attention to you (modify as needed, although be aware that non-relatives may classify these behaviors as stalking or harassment):

1)     Send a note by snail mail that says, “Call me when you get this check” but don’t include the check. The shelf life on this one is fairly short, however, because they’re like to figure out this ruse pretty quick.

2)     Leave a message on the cell phone to the effect of: “Are you OK? I’m really worried and if I don’t hear from you by 5 p.m., I am going to start calling the hospitals and the police because they say the first 24 hours are critical in a missing person’s case.”

3)     Repeatedly call the cell phone, knowing full well your child is glancing down at it and saying to his or her friends, “It’s just my mother. I’ll call her back later.” Disconnect each time without leaving a message. Eventually their curiosity may prompt a return phone call.

4)      Send them a text that says, “What time will you be picking me up at the train station/airport/bus station?” That may send fear coursing through their veins, but they’ll probably contact you.

5)      Send a message via Facebook or Twitter. Even if your child won’t let you be his or her Facebook friend (that’s a subject for another day!), Facebook will deliver your message. Then send them repeated “Friend” requests or threaten to post your message on their “wall” if it’s open to the public or to send “Friend” requests to all of their friends because you’re do desperate to make sure everything is OK.  They’ll do most anything to prevent that sort of embarrassment factor, I assure you.

Unfortunately , none of these tricks can be used on a regular basis because your too-clever child will likely figure out the deceit fairly quickly. Ironically, the day I finished composing this tirade, advice columnist Dear Abby printed several letters on this very topic – children who ignore their parents’ phone calls and texts. The final one was from a man who said he warned his daughter that the next time she did so, he would cut off her phone service and “we chat a lot now.”

So I emailed the link to the letters to my son with a warning I’d be disconnecting his phone service the next time he ignored one of my texts or calls.

This time, he ignored the email instead.

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