How Often Do You Talk to Your Parents?

my parents with my niece and nephew

A few weeks before I set off to go to college in 1999, my parents had a chat with me that would forever establish our rate of communication.

Mom and Dad sat me down and said, “Jamey, here’s the deal: You have to write or call us with a recap of your week every week or we’ll stop paying your tuition.”

This imperative came as a bit of a shock to me. It signaled a level of distrust I didn’t know was there. Later I would learn that my parents genuinely thought that me decision to go to school in St. Louis–hundreds of miles from Virginia–was intended as a way to get as far away from them as possible and that they’d never hear from me again. That couldn’t have been further from the truth, nor do I even know what I did to make them think that, but there was no convincing them otherwise.

Despite the unfortunate foundation, it turned out that when I fell into a pattern of writing a detailed e-mail home once a week, I actually liked it. It gave me a chance to look back at the things I was excited about–it made me feel like I had accomplished something every week. Also, in writing I had the freedom to express myself in a way that I probably couldn’t have done over the phone. I need to process things before putting them into words.

It was sometime after college that I shifted from e-mail to weekly calls home. I don’t think it’s always been this way, but for as long as I can remember, I’ve called my parents every Sunday afternoon for a 20-30 minute chat. To a certain extent it’s something I do for their benefit–I don’t have an innate need to talk that often–but we’ve had some good conversations in which they’ve given me some important advice and perspectives.

I like asking people about this because I think the answer varies vastly from person to person. If you’re willing to share, I’m curious to hear your answer in the comments.


5 Responses to “How Often Do You Talk to Your Parents?”

  1. Brent and Daisy says:

    It depends on the parent for me. For my mom, its hard to go 3 days without talking to her, but some conventions require it. I visit her and my stepdad for supper most Tuesdays and Thursdays, and sometimes a weekend cookout when I’m not gaming, which is rare… She won’t let me go too long without feeding or talking to me!

    Even though I see my stepdad that often, I’m lucky to get a whole sentence from him. I can count the number of times he’s texted me on my fingers and I can’t remember anytime he has actually TALKED to me on the phone.

    As for my biological dad, I never talk to him more than once in a week or two, usually about once each month. Since he lives two states away, I only see him in person about twice each year, one time is usually a holiday, the other is to go to the season finale race together.

  2. Jeff Spenner says:

    I talk to mine once a month at most, with maybe a quick email (and I mean a quick one or two sentences) in between. Normally it pushes to once every 6ish weeks, though. Mira talks to hers on FaceTime or Skype every week, and I can’t for the life of me figure out what there is to talk about that frequently.

  3. Joseph E. Pilkus III says:

    Jamey,

    Before my father passed away we spoke almost weekly to one another. Even if we had nothing to “report” it was a great way to catch-up and stay in touch. I did this even when I was stationed in England for four years (though the time difference made it quite a challenge at times) and when I finally settled in the D.C. area. For a man who had a high school education and only a few college credits, mostly in real estate and law, he had a vast of font of knowledge…schools in the 50s did a much better job than they do today in providing a well-rounded education. Our conversations would last an hour minimum for most phone calls…that’s probably what I miss the most.

    While my mom is alive and well in Philadelphia living with my brothers nearby, I find myself talking to her only about once a month. She’s a lovely woman, but as she’s grown older, she’s not nearly as talkative either on the phone or in person (which is admittedly tough for me, an extrovert). My daughter and I visit her every few months and I’m pleased that she’s coming down to my house this week as she’ll watch my daughter’s last high school performance as the lead in “Our Town.” As mom is not one to write e-mails or texts, short conversations are thus relegated to phone calls until we see each other the next time.

    Cheers,
    Joe

  4. Aunt Patricia says:

    My dad asked me to call him when I had something to say. Since we loved each other, it was often enough. Our sons do the same thing. I’m at peace with it.

  5. JT says:

    I read something to the effect of “goodness makes you return to the source of your goodness” so I try to call, text or send a photo when something good happens – and I come from parents who are divorced and remarried, so I have two sets to keep up with, and they’re very different personalities.

    We have a weekly rhythm with one set, something that really solidified when we were a one-kid household, where we skype each week. My kids perform, for the most part, or they sulk underneath the coffee table. Either way we have an hour’s conversation. I try to call my stepdad about once a week during the work week, because I know he appreciates it and it honestly feels good to just hear his take on the week’s events. These talks tend to be about important things – finance, safety, work, and planning for the future.

    My other set of parents is retired and very active with lots of social events, trips and sports events, so more often than not when I call they’re out. Instead, we catch each other in-between things – a call on the way to work, or on a quiet Sunday evening, or sometimes just before bedtime so my kids can say goodnight. Frequently we talk politics, cooking and compare notes on people in the family or old friends. This part of the family has a long tradition of storytelling, and at family functions we frequently tell the same stories over and over because the art of telling the story is much of the fun, so our conversations include these as well. My dad and I tell each other the same jokes frequently.

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