Adult children who are tethered to their smartphones

My daughter and I seldom get to see each other, especially these days, and so I like to keep things smooth (up to a point!). Her phone's constant presence irritates me, and also hurts my feelings, even though I know this isn't her intention. (She is also a rather touchy soul who wants me to approve how she conducts her life and to applaud her considerable intelligence and resourcefulness; non-approval upsets her. I remember being that way with my own mother.) 

I'm not going to ask a 32-year-old to turn off the phone during dinner in her own house, but what about lunch or dinner out? Any ideas apart from "Let's put away our phones when the plates arrive."? The only action that comes to mind is to pull out a book or newspaper, and I suppose that is kind of rude as well. I'd especially appreciate any concrete tactics that you've found successful with adult children.

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I would ask her to put down her phone while at the dinner table, whether dining at home or out for dinner. Perhaps if you explain that you don't see each other much and would like to engage in face-to-face communication, or even tell her that it bothers/hurts you when she is on the phone instead of talking to you over dinner. You shouldn't have to hide your feelings from your daughter -- be forthcoming and start a discussion! We have a no phone at the table (at least while we are eating) rule, although we have younger adult children that are still being supported by us. Also, we aren't talking about a long period of time. If someone can't put down their phone for even a few minutes, that's indicative of an unhealthy addiction and a bigger problem. Good luck!

What I found successful with my "adult child" is to be honest about how I feel about any certain thing that upsets me involving his behavior and be open to his response. Sometimes people just don't pick up on how you feel if you don't let them know. I would just say "Hey boss, can we talk about something that's getting me down a bit"? and he usually says "sure, what 's up?". Then I can say how I"M experiencing the behavior, and he can say how HE sees the behavior. Sometimes it leads to some real interesting conversations and I would say positive parent/child connectedness. Also when you say "phones constant presence" do you mean the phone is just around or is she actually using the phone - texting, tapping, etc. If she just likes having the phone around that might be hard to change - its just the way people are now. If she is actually using the phone, that's a different story and probably something to bring up. Good luck in any case!

If your daughter is 32 and on her own, I think you need to approach this less as a mom and more about a person that cares about her and wants spend time with her. Your statement that, "I'm not going to ask a 32-year-old to turn off the phone during dinner in her own house" read to me that you thought it would be like disciplining your daughter. I don't see it that way at all. You say yourself this behavior hurts your feelings. That should be enough for someone that cares about you. I'm 51, if I was visiting a friend for dinner, etc., it would be hard, but I would ask her to put away her phone for dinner. I would say something like, "This time is special for me--can we unplug for dinner?" If that isn't enough, I would tell her it hurts my feelings, and could she please respect that? I think you should explain it to your daughter this way. You should also be consistent. I, too, feel annoyed and hurt when my meal companion keeps a  phone out and constantly checks it. My kids are younger (21, 18), but even my husband sometimes need reminding. Meals together are precious, and it will only be minutes before they can go spend time with someone else on IG, etc. Good luck!

My kids are in their 30s too. They are pretty good about honoring our family rule about not having phones out at dinner. By "at dinner" I mean during the time we are actively putting food into our mouths. But ... before dinner helping out in the kitchen, after dinner hanging out around the table, and basically all other times, the phones are out. My phone-obsessed husband does it too ("hold on - let me google that" he will say in the middle of a conversation). It is hard to have a conversation with someone who is looking at you for 5 seconds and then looking down at their phone for 5 seconds, back to you, back to their phone, ad nauseum. It feels like the olden days of TV, where everyone gets up and leaves during the commercials. You're the TV. The clear message they are transmitting is: "You have my attention while you're saying something interesting, but I'll be doing something else when you start getting boring." But they do not think this is the message they are transmitting. This is standard operating procedure in their peer group. It's normal, and not considered rude.

So, you have to let them know that "some" people, maybe only YOU and this one other mom who posted on BPN, think it's rude, and it hurts our feelings, and then explain why. You can really only say this to your child or your spouse. (I have adult friends who do the phone thing, and I can't really say anything to them because I value the friendship and don't want to cause a ruckus -  I just try to be extra interesting when I'm talking to them. ;-)  My husband will pull his phone out the instant he gets a text, like when we're in the middle of a walk or a hike. I'll stop and say something sarcastic like "Oh, I see you have an important work call. Let's stop and have a phone break."  And I take out my phone too and pretend to be very engrossed.  He'll say "Oh no no no - it's just so-and-so letting me know about such-and-such" and I'll say "Not at all! It's fine! We can stop, no problem!" and then he will turn off his text notifications and put the phone back in his pocket and we carry on. I'm aware I should not use sarcasm but statistically it does work better for me than pleading or asking nicely, so this is what I do. Your mileage may vary!