The Jill Biden trick for parents of teenagers

When I first read the word fexting I worried it was some kind of weird phone sex thing that began with an ‘f’. After a few unpleasant moments wondering how that would work and how fexting would be different from sexting I braced myself and read on. Imagine my surprise when I found out that I am already a world class fexter and it’s something that helped me inordinately during my son’s teenage years.

Portrait photo of Jill Biden

Fexting is the art of fighting over text and it made news this week when Jill Biden told Harper’s Bazaar that she and Joe argue over text when the secret service are around. Unsurprisingly I don’t have secret service issues but I do have some er, emotional issues especially when it comes to arguing with my son/husband/friends/strangers/anyone.

Fexting was recommended to me by a therapist who didn’t use the word fexting. He explained that taking myself out of an angry or confronting situation was the best thing I could do to protect myself from saying things I would immediately regret. This came at a time I was arguing a lot with my then teenage son and my very angry inner teenager was triggered.

When I am hurt or emotional or if the sun is shining or it’s night-time I become quite sensitive. And by quite sensitive I mean ridiculously, pathetically, irrationally sensitive. And when you’re sensitive like that you can become angry very quickly. Sensitivity snaps like very thin ice and anger pours in. And when anger floods your system, you can say things you regret as soon as the words form. Some people can trap and swallow them, but when I do that the words build up in the back of my throat and I choke and the only way I can breathe again is to release the words by shouting or crying. Often both.

Crying and shouting are very bad ways to win an argument, they are also unfair burdens to place on the person you’re arguing with, especially when that person is your own child and it’s your triggers more than his actions that have caused the issue to begin with.

Walking away to stop myself shouting or crying would help me think about what was angering me. But that was the hardest part; walking away to emptiness when I was angry was almost impossible — the fext gave me destination and a purpose.

If I wrote what I wanted to say I would think about it more, I had a chance to take the angry words out of my mouth and mould them into kinder words as they made their way to my fingers. With written words I could edit and delete what I said before the words came out, I could think about the future and the past more clearly, I knew I didn’t want to have a trail of nasty messages to the person I loved most, and I could (sort of) rationalise why I was so angry.

I’m no First Lady and I’m no expert on arguing or parenting. But I am a huge fan of fexting. Especially now that I know it’s not some weird fetish.

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