Since You Asked…

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Dear Caroline,

I’m a widow in my 50s who lives alone. I have two daughters in their 30s. Both of them are housewives who moved to other states because of their husband’s jobs. I have told them how much I’d love it if they would call me to talk every day, but they don’t. My sister, who lives on the other side of town, seems to rush me off the phone when I call her. What can I do?


Dear Neglected,

I wish I had your daughters’ and sister’s viewpoints on this situation, but here are a few questions you can ask yourself:

1) Are you being mindful of time zone differences? Please don’t make the common mistake of calling anyone who lives far away and then asking them, “What time is it there?”

2) Are you thinking about their daily routines and making sure it’s a good time to call? Nowadays, whether you’re calling someone across the street or across the world, it’s a good idea to preface your phone call with a text message asking, “May I call you?” That allows them to either say “yes” or suggest a more convenient time.

3) If you’re calling for more than a minute, are you starting the conversation with the question, “Do you have time to talk?”

4) If you’re the one calling them, are you taking responsibility for ending the call? Nobody enjoys the task of politely getting a caller off the phone.

5) Are you choosing your telephone conversation topics and tone more carefully than you would in person? We don’t get visual clues when we’re on the phone, so we can’t tell if our conversation partner is losing interest or feeling uncomfortable about something we’re saying. The lack of visual feedback is one reason many people get on the phone and end up monologuing instead of conversing.

I know it’s hard to adjust to loved ones moving away, but if you fill up some of your free time with other things you enjoy, it will give your daughters, and your sister, a little breathing room and time to miss you.

If you have access to the internet, keep up with them in emails or through social media as well.

I hope you’ll get to visit all of them before too long.


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