DEAR JERKASS: My son “Travis,” age 9, is computer savvy, but his “Luddite” grandparents (my in-laws) live far away from us and don’t even have Internet access. They are no longer able to travel, and our finances prohibit frequent visits to them.
Travis could be Skyping them, and they could have a vital relationship through modern technology. Instead, he will take their phone calls only occasionally, and enjoys the annual visit with them — but mainly because of the other relatives there.
If these were my parents (who are sadly long gone), I’d set them up on Skype and have them at least try. When his grandparents are no longer able to live on their own and move to assisted living, will that offer at least a hope of virtual connectivity?
Modern Man in San Diego
DEAR AUSTRALOPITHECUS: Do you have a printer? Get your son to type a (gasp!) goddamn letter, print it off, mail the fucking thing and show him something that won’t pander to instant gratification.
This is why people think kids have ADHD; parents like you who think it’s more important to have instant gratification in a relationship, than to do anything that requires work or effort.
By having your son write a letter (I’d say do it by hand, but we both know you don’t have the patience for that), you’re teaching him that one way of showing care is by devoting time and thinking about a person even when they aren’t in the same room.
After all, when the computer is turned off all that is left is a memory that can fade. A letter is something that can be reread and shared, stuffed into a box and found by future family.
But that’s just me.
Judas' Advice Column
This is where I take a Dear Abby column, and add my own brand of advice. I started by calling it Dear Crabby, but that's taken and JERKASS seems more fun.