What are your thoughts on this communications tool?

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-02-2014
What are your thoughts on this communications tool?
Tue, 01-07-2014 - 10:23am

Hello Moms and Dads,

Last week I posted a question about helping my brother and nephew communicate more and I got some really good feedback from everyone here on the board.  I did some research and found this tool: http://www.getheart.io/

What do you guys think of it as a communications tool?  I'm not trying to replace face to face talks but rather to improve it?  I also bought the book How to Talk so Your Teens Will Listen.  It's pretty fun playing pretend dad, hopefully when its my turn I'll be ready =)

Avatar for elc11
Community Leader
Registered: 06-16-1998

I don't open links that I don't know what they are/where they go---especially one with an uncommon country-specific suffix, so I don't know what this tool is. If you want to C&P the description here then we can read it and give you feedback. Do be careful though about not seeming to promote something for sale, or else your post may get deleted as a violation of TOS.

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-02-2014

Ahh okay, yea sorry I didn't realize it was considered spam.  Let me try to describe it best I can.

It's a weekly report tool.  As a parent you would pick or come up with 5 general questions that you want your teen to answer.  Once your teen answers, it notifies the parent there is a report to review.  The parent can respond using the tool to engage in conversation.

I like that this is automated vs sending manual emails.  Again I'm not trying to replace face to face communication but seeing if something like this can help.  This way it forces my brother to listen first and lecture later.   The service is $9/month which I don't think is much if it helps with communication flow

Avatar for elc11
Community Leader
Registered: 06-16-1998
Tue, 01-07-2014 - 9:49pm

Submitting weekly reports? I so glad that I'm not raising teens now, if this is what parenting has come to! I know that you are just trying to help and that your brother has time constraints, but still....how impersonal and kind of "corporate" it seems. I'd be afraid that anything that allowed for the communication to be remote or virtual would make it harder to relate face to face.

IMO having some set "dates" each week for Dad and son to hang out would be more conducive to son feeling comfortable with talking to dad. If dad lectures too much he needs to make a point to listen more. If dad has given the impression that he doesn't want to be bothered with bad news or the mundane or whatever, then he needs to let son know that he's available to talk about anything and that HE'S the parent and the kid doesn't need to protect him, its the other way around.

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-08-2009

You will love being a parent and being a grandparent is absolutely the best gig on earth.

At 47, I’m really kind of old fashioned and out of step with the high tech stuff out there. Until about a year ago, I had no cell phone, dumb or smart. And what I have now is an H20wireless pay as you go phone that costs $100 per year for 2,000 minutes or texts, operates on the AT&T network with phones that cost $10 when on sale at Fry’s Electronics. And the unused minutes roll over to the next year when you renew on time. If you use up the minutes, you pop in another $100 and restart the year clock from the date of the $100 payment. Hubby has a smart phone provided by work as do each of our younger couples, but those work phoes come with restrictions on personal use, etcetera. And each of the couples also has a H20wireless dumb phone like mine. Until the work phones were provided, the young couples had no phones other than the home phone because each couple spends most every hour with each other at work, school, home, and commuting. Unlike many of their classmates in high school, the four of them wanted to use the money to go on family vacations with us and each of the guy’s parents. We’re talking Florida beaches and with us, Cancun with youngest SILs parents, and skiing in Taos NM with oldest SILs parents.

I do know, and somewhat understand, that kids today are very much into texting, rather than conversations. However, I don’t think there is any “app” that can replace good old fashioned face time and discussions with a kid of any age, be it age 5, 10, 15, 20, 30, 40, or whatever.

Texting is OK for quick answers to questions like: “What time are you getting home by?” “Can you pick up milk on the way home?” However I think a quick one minute call is more efficient, but that is just the opinion of an old lady.

Unknown to us at the time, hubby and I were getting our daughters and their guys ready for law school by using the “Socratic method” on them. We had no clue (still don’t) about such, but we just asked questions to guide them to a logical conclusion about things. When possible we asked questions that could not be answered with a single word or short phrase. It is very time consuming and effective when done correctly. Generally, you don’t have to argue while guiding them to the fallacy of a position they may be holding. Maybe it worked with ours because they got use to it from the crib on up.

Let me illustrate it with your nephew’s  and what I think is the situation. These are the type of questions I would ask:

• Nephew, what kind of day did you have? Bad • Ouch, what made it bad (good or otherwise)? Algebra II, it makes no sense to me. Shakespere makes no sense to me either. I hate Spanish (French or whatever.)

• Well, what do you plan to do in life? Play baseball (football or whatever).

• That’s a good hope, but what if you fail to make it to a team? I don’t know?

• (Before I go any further, if you have a kid who can throw a 400 mph fast ball, run the 100 yards in 3 seconds without dropping the football, or play 18 holes with a score of 60, don’t even think about letting his education get in the way of his ball playing. LOL.)

• Ever consider the odds of making a team? Nope.

• Two million boys are born every year, with thirty or so teams picking up and keep five or so players a year. 150 out of 2,000,000. Does that sound difficult? Uh.

• Don’t you think you might need an education as a fallback position? Uh.

• What do you think is the purpose of these classes in high school? Torture.

• LOL Seriously? Get you ready for college and a career path like engineer, accounting, teaching.

• Besides baseball, what other career interests you? Coach. • Like high school, college, pro? Yeah.

• Super. Your dad and I will want good seats to every game. How do you suppose that you get to be one? Don’t know.

• Have you ever asked your coach about how he likes it and how he got there? Nope.

• How do you think your high school coaches got there? Don’t know.

• Do you suppose that your coach had to go to college? Probably?

• How do you get to go to college? Good grades, I guess?

• Do you think your coaches had to study and do well in classes like Algebra, Shakespeare and Spanish? Probably?

• So how are you doing in these classes? OK.

• What does OK mean? C (or whatever).

• Do you think that is good enough or a little sub-par? OK

• Could they, or should they, be a little better? Maybe.

• How can we work together to improve them?

• Do you think we should talk to the school about getting you extra help?

• How much homework do you have? • Are you spending enough time on homework?

• How can we work to design a schedule for you to follow? • Have you considered summer school?

• Do you know how much your dad loves you?

Do you know how LUCKY you are to have people around you who love you?

• Do you have a special girl friend?

• Tell me about her.

• What makes her so special to you?

• As you look into the future where do you see yourself in 1, 5, 10, 20 years from now?

• Is what you are doing now advancing you to those goals?

• Etcetera!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

• The questions are endless and open up the subjects for examination, discussion, and discovery. It is very time consuming and difficult.

Make it a conversation, not an examination or an inquisition, which ain’t easy, but we found it to be very effective. We found that the more you talk, the more you ask questions, the more the kids open up. The more comfortable they become with the idea that you are on their team, wishing only the best for them, the more open they become. Also, if you allow them to ask you questions, and the more you open up, the more effective it becomes. Sometimes you or the kid will land in areas that are very difficult or painful for you or them or both. It’s ok to skip on to other areas with the understanding that we will discuss it later when you or I are comfortable with being open and honest about it. (Believe me, as they get older, this can be extremely sensitive in both directions.)

We often did this over Little Caesar’s or Papa John’s pizza, the evening meal, in the hot tub, driving somewhere, etcetera, anywhere and everywhere we could. Often times the kids opened up the conversations as they got older.

(As a side point, this is going to come as a tremendous shock to you and your brother. LOL Sixteen year olds do lots of thinking about sex. It’s past time for “the talk,” which should be an ongoing conversation, not a lecture. You do not want your first conversation on the subject to be when a girl’s parents call to inform you that their daughter is in a family way.)

This is what worked for us, but I have no clue if it would work with other families. I guess the point I would stress is that kids need lots of face time and as nonsensical as this sounds it is true: “Nobody ever said being a parent was easy and nobody was certainly correct.”

Some school subjects don't bulld on prior knowledge; like history, which you dont have to take it in a particular order.  Other subjects build on prior knowledge, like its hard to do well in Albebra II or Spanish II if you did not do well in the earlier class.  Therefore your nephew may need to go back and restudy those earlier classes. He can do that via "Khan Academy" on the web, which is FREE and funded by the Bill and Malinda Gates Foundation and language disks available at most public libraries.

I leave you and your future bride with this thought, you’ll love being parents and if for some reason you can’t have your own kids, (as my older daughter and SIL) adopt a few. Our Obgyn has children but none are bio children. She has been a blessing to our family in this time of heartbreak.

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-14-2000

I do get that teens these days may be more into talking via computer than face to face time but I'm not sure I'd spend money on an app to help with communication. While a daily check in via email or text might be a good starting point for your brother and nephew I really think they need to figure out a way to spend face to face time - preferably each day but at least a few times a week. Even if - as someone else suggested - it's doing homework together. If you feel they have a hard time communicating perhaps you could arrange a time for the three of you to get together. Or if you really thing they're struggling perhaps they could benefit from talking to a counselor to get some communication tips.

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-16-2009
Wed, 01-08-2014 - 11:32am

It actually could be harmful. Young people spend too much time communicating via electronic means with their peers. They are not learning to handle  face-to-face conflicts; not  practicing their communication skills.

Your brother and his son should schedule one meal together each day so they can talk about their day. That could be either breakfast or supper, it doesn't matter.  It should be ordinary; everyday "how's things" going. Here, we had and still do have supper together every night. And during that meal, we talk about our day.  It gave the kids a chance to have both of their parents together at one time in the day, before everyone had to go off to do whatever they had to do.

By the way, Kimmy, I doubt that it will come as a surprise to the poster that teenage boys are constantly thinking of sex. He was, after all, a teenage boy once too. Teenagers really have not changed that much in 10,20,30,40 and even 70 years.

This brings me to my next piece of advice. For a parent (or relative) to truly understand a teenager they have to first understand themselves and remember back to how those years were for them. You posted that this boy's marks are dropping. How did you do, your brother do in highschool? The boy's mother?  What problems and challenges did you or his father have?  Was school something you liked, found relevant?  Did you or his brother have a need to fit in more than anything else?  Was math or English or whatever increasingly a challenge? Or did you or your brother or his mother into the social life too much?

The apple does not fall far from the tree. Think back and remember what worked and did not work for you and your brother.

Hope this helps

Avatar for sabrtooth
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-1999

Itea gave excellent advice, and makes a VERY important point.  In addition to the apple not falling far from the tree concerning academics, I would bet it hasn't fallen far in regards to interpersonal communication. 

If I was concerned about my child's falling grades, and changing demeanor, the LAST THING I would do, would be to have a relative talk to my child. That is avoidance.  If I was having trouble communicating, I would get the both of us to a counselor, and learn BETTER ways to communicate, and parent.

That said, the child lives with his father AND his grandparents.  Why must they turn to someone outside the house??  Why doesn't someone the kid lives with, know what's up with him?  Or sit down and talk to him?  What did the grandparents do with THEIR kids?

And in addition to this poster's near obsession with apps, he has said he writes emails or letters to his gf when they argue.  If my Dh had done that, instead of sitting down with me and talking to me, we would not be married 36 years.  I know everyone communicates differently, but again,  this is showing a pattern of avoidance of the "messy" parts of communication.  Seeing the ACTUAL effect of your words, as they occur.  And then responding in real time.  Often, conversation takes you places that you would not expect.  That is why a psychiatrist TALKS to you instead of having you send them e-mails!!

The ways a parent communicates with a child, grows out of the parent's lifelong relationship with their child.  A close loving relationship begins when the child is born.  The ability to get your teen to open up to you, is born out of the ability to get your toddler to stop screaming, and tell you "what's wrong?".  Which brings me to other questions.  How long has the child lived with his father, and his grandparents?  His entire life?  6 months?  What happened to his mother?  How long ago?  I suspect there are a boatload of other issues besides "teenitis" at work here. 

Poster, you said your brother spends long hours working and studying to "make a better life for his son".  His son is 16!!!  If things go well, he will be off to college in 2 years.  If the reason for the current problems is poor choices in recreational consumables, companions or sex partners, he may leave MUCH sooner.  Your brother would be FAR better off carving out as much time as possible forging a better relationship with his son.  For a reference, go back and listen to Harry Chapin's "Cat's in the Cradle".

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-08-2009

When I made the comment about it coming as a shock to father and uncle that 16 year olds do lots of thinking about SEX, I put the letters LOL after it, which stands for “laughing out loud.”  Notice I did not limit that to only boys, but included both sexes. Humans, male and female, are sexual creations.  Seriously, lots of parents avoid these conversations, when they should not.  (I did.) 


I think I would give the kid the cost of the “app” to sit down and discuss things and contribute thoughts on how to turn things around grade wise. 

The school should be able to tell you folks what gaps your nephew needs to fill in with extra study, so that he can improve his grades.  A 16 year old should be able to figure out a schedule to do that and share it with you and his dad.  And come back with a report of his progress from time to time. This may require him spending a chuck of his summer vacation catching up.  You want to fill the gaps of understanding in the classes that build on prior learning; like math, foreign language, and English.  Classes like history and literature are less dependent upon prior learning.  Kahn Academy on the internet and the CD disks from the school or the public library can be most helpful in doing this.  A good English grammar book fr0m the school and public library can also be helpful in filling gaps there. 

Much of school is “time on task.”  Some kids require more time than others and that can vary between different classes. For example, some kids do better in math, while others do better in language classes.   Often, the problem is the unwillingness of the student to put in the time, rather than play video games, talk to friends, watch TV, etcetera.  I would doubt that there is any “time management tool” that can overcome an unwillingness of the student. 

Years ago an older friend told me, “Enjoy your children while they are young, as they are only with you a very short time.”  How true!  It seems like only a few months ago that ours were babies, a few weeks ago that they were preteens and now they are nearing 21 and 22. 

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999

I can't imagine many teenagers going for this--it just sounds like more homework.  I've notice that kids talk the most when you are not probing them for information.  If they don't drive yet, driving them around in the car is great and esp. when they are with friends, if you sit there quietly, you really learn a lot--and then you can talk to them later.  I also think that father-son commuication is difficult a lot of times.  Women are socialized to talk about their feelings--men aren't.  I also think that if your brother "lectures" his son, that the son is not going to be wanting to communicate a lot with his father--who wants to say something that's not so great when they know they are going to get a lecture?  I see a big difference between how my kids (18 & 24) communicate with me compared to their father (we're divorced).  They will tell me a lot of stuff even things they know I will not approve of because I manage to keep my cool and listen.  Maybe your brother should just read some books on parenting teens.