Why are some parents so direct about texting? The experts say

Why are dads so direct with text messages? Experts say. (Photo: Getty Creative)

When it comes to texting, everyone has a different style of communication, but there are a style of texting that seems to irritate the children of a certain type of parent. We’re talking about dads who text without any emotion, which, in texting terms, means no emojis, exclamation points, or even “lols.” While not exactly a scientifically defined phenomenon, anecdotal evidence suggests that some parents can’t stop texting their kids outright, no matter how much it irritates them.

Adam Garcia, founder of The Stock Dork, says his father is one of those text message users. He often receives text messages like “OK” from his father, along with punctuation marks that most people would consider unnecessary.

“It’s not that I’m not a caring person,” Garcia explains to Yahoo Life. “It’s just that he never wanted to buy into all this texting etiquette where you have to check certain boxes like putting (or more precisely, not putting) a period so the other party doesn’t think you’re angry, using emojis, etc. .”

Maria McDowell, founder of Easy Search People, has a similar father who direct texts.

“I never read my dad with any feeling of emotion,” he shares. “I remember one time I texted my dad that he loved him, and his response was, ‘It’s okay. You need something?’ When I went to college, he was abroad and couldn’t take me. I remember getting the text from him and it said, ‘Be careful and read your books. If you need something, call me'”.

Span Chen, who runs The Karate Blog, says that it is one of those text messages, but he insists it’s not personal.

“I have always been that parent who gets accused of being too direct when texting. In all honesty, he comes from a place of innocence,” he explains. “Half the time, I don’t even want to sound direct, but it always sounds like that. My kids and wife sometimes think I’m mad at them for how blunt my text is, and I always have to explain to them that I’m okay with everyone and that it wasn’t intentional. Sometimes I repeatedly reread my text to see if it sounds too forceful and insert emojis to lessen the seriousness.”

Are there reasons why certain people may be more prone to these types of text messages, while others try to infuse a little more emotion into their words? Media psychologist Pamela Rutledge says it’s all about a difference in expectations.

“If you see texting as a normal method of communication (as opposed to exchanging information) and you maintain a connection, then you will go ahead and expect to see the social norms for communication as you understand them,” he tells Yahoo Life. “These are context-adjusted (or text-adjusted) expressions of accepted interpersonal communications for a given group, gender, age, culture, or even personality type. If someone sees text messages as normal rather than utilitarian, they’re more likely to include cues of interpersonal connection, like emojis and word choice. For these people, the time and effort invested in the use of emojis helps maintain and improve social relationships because of the signals they send and how they are received. Even punctuation marks can function symbolically instead of grammatically in text messages, providing clues for interpretation.”

Older men, he says, may be more prone to this kind of direct communication, since men in general tend to use “less emotional language.” She points out that some men, especially those of older generations, may “subscribe to the ‘strong, silent guy’ model and risk being misunderstood for their silence both outside and inside.” However, even those who are affectionate in real life may be short on text messages for other reasons.

“Older men (and women) are less likely to be comfortable with text messaging as their primary form of communication than younger people are,” he explains. “They have never established a pattern of casual text communication. As people age, they may also find the screen size or keyboard size less user-friendly, which would add to the brevity.”

New York City-based clinical psychologist and professor Sabrina Romanoff also suggests that while older men may be more inclined to direct text, it might be the contrast between how many young women believe should text that makes these types of messages stand out.

“We tend to add more punctuation, words, and content as a way to provide validation, affirmation, and justification for our requests or communications,” he notes. “It can be threatening to be assertive and women, especially younger ones, are socialized to soften their communication and avoid conflict. Sometimes we put extra effort into messages that seem friendly, personable, and less persuasive. We also tend to apologize, add qualifying statements, and include exclamation points to moderate our message. We’re likely to see direct texting so often among this cohort because they’re less likely to worry about getting approval or appearing too demanding.”

However, if your direct texting dad (or someone else in your life) is stressing you out, it might be best not to text. Picking up the phone can strengthen your connection with the person you’re chatting with, says Amit Kumar, an assistant professor of marketing and psychology at the University of Texas at Austin, who has researched texting as a communication style.

“What we found is that people expect or anticipate that connecting using their voice, like picking up the phone and making a call, will be more awkward than connecting via text, when, in fact, it isn’t,” he explains. “What we found is that there is no difference between the discomfort between whether you are talking to someone or texting someone. But there are big differences in terms of how connected you feel to that person. People feel much more connected when they communicate using their voice than when they communicate using only text.”

The other good thing about a phone call? No punctuation is needed, which eliminates the problem of receiving “OK”.

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