Does Your Family Need A Flapper?

Yesterday, Jose (my husband) and I were having our breakfast at the restaurant of the hotel we were staying at. At the next table were a couple, whose conversation amused and startled us at the same time. They were obviously husband and wife, but the conversation was like that of two people who met infrequently.

Does Your Family Need A Flapper?


I have often gone to restaurants and watched families eat an entire meal in near silence. It seems to me that they have hardly anything to say to each other. If they’re ‘lucky’, they might get a call on their mobile phone, which will lead to some talk on their table!

Sometimes, I’m convinced that most of the world’s problems are due to a lack of proper communication. And where do we learn how to communicate? First and foremost, in our homes, right?

So what’s with all of us getting so lost in the pursuit of our own interests and forgetting how to really talk and listen to each other? I think a lack of communication in the family is symbolic of a lack of caring. Don’t tell me we’re all too busy. We certainly have time for inane conversations on our mobiles, connecting on social networks, watching meaningless serials and following the goriest of stories that the media sees fit to spew out. Why can’t we make time to communicate with our families?

It makes me recall Gulliver’s Travels. When Lemuel Gulliver visits the land of the Laputans, he sees that these highly intellectual people who are preoccupied with their pursuit of music and mathematics. They are so absorbed with themselves that they forget how to communicate with each other. To handle this, they appoint special workers called ‘flappers’. The task of the flapper is to take a stick with a balloon on it and touch the mouth of the person who wished to speak. They then touched the ear of the person who was to listen. This is how they facilitated communication!

Perhaps we need to employ flappers again. I think that even if we need to go for a course to learn how to communicate with our spouse and/or children – then we should make the effort to go. It will be time and money well spent.

However, there are simple things that we can do that can make us more communicative with each other:

Schedule time for talking – Make sure that there’s room in your family schedule for talking. Sometimes we’re so busy with work and activities that we forget that we need to talk. If you need to cut down on activities that you or your children participate in – then do so.

Make sure the family eats together – Try to schedule at least one meal together as a family. During this time have a ‘no-gadget’ rule – no television, no mobile phones, etc. If the phone rings – let it ring. You can always call someone back. Use meal times to talk about the day.

Make dates with your childrenTake children out for a fun date individually. Don’t just go for a movie together – but if you go for that movie, discuss it over a meal.

Undertake a project with your child. Let her take the lead – while you observe and discuss.

Create family traditions – Even a simple exercise like tucking a child into bed can be a chance to talk.

If you really want to communicate there are endless number of ways to do so. To give you an example, my Dad is one of 15 siblings. Together with in-laws and grandchildren it’s a big family, spread around the world. When my Grandmother passed away, my cousin created a family Yahoo group. It’s always wonderful to see the siblings communicate with each other there – some of them are in their 80s but they’re sharing jokes, forwards, information and crazy memories online.

So get creative and get talking.

Corinne Rodrigues used to be a teacher to teenagers and has a lot of experience counseling and working with troubled youth. She is now a full-time blogger atย Everyday Gyaan.

  • Good one Corinne…I also hope there is no need for flappers !!! But I feel people give more importance to gadgets, TV, serials and other unwanted stuff in this world and forget the basic quality to communicate and connect with another individual.

    Also in many families children are fed food while watching TV – there is no communication between the mother and the child. Thats really a sad state.

    The priorities of a family have been over-ridden by other unwanted factors ๐Ÿ™

    • Thanks, Uma. Yes, your point about children being fed while watching cartoons is so true. I think not only are they not communicating, but building such bad associations around food for kids – like they have to be bribed to eat!

  • Alka

    Such a relevant post. Indeed we need flappers. On Christmas eve I observed a couple at a restaurant, both immersed in their smartphones. Blame it on the Internet revolution.

    • Yes, Alka. Don’t you think it’s appalling? I wonder why they bother to have dinner together at times.

  • Lack of communication can really lead to alienating oneself from others. Nothing is worse like silence in a marriage. You might as well not be in it and children sense the breakdown of communication between parents and become insecure. I liked your suggestions Corinne.

    • So true, Rimly. The silence between parents can be killing for children.

  • janu

    So true Corinne….we are smart with our phones and not with people.

  • Even at the blogger meet, Corinne, I observed that most people are just either tweeting or clicking pics. They are hardly even listening to the guys on stage or looking at each other. The same applies to families, each doing their own thing :(.

    • I know that, Rachna. But then it’s encouraged by the organizers – with all the prizes for tweets, etc!
      It’s up to us to make new rules for our family! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • There should be US time without cellphones, Kali berry etc in all families. Hate to make it forced like a office meeting but at times it is needed.


    • We might have to enforce it at first, but then ‘switch off’ times become second nature.
      Kali berry! That’s the first time I heard that – thanks for the laugh! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • chattywren

    Very nice post, and so insightful. I will have to read Gullivers Travels all over again, I just don’t remember the concept of flappers. But true, technology is very very intrusive on family time.

  • Conversations are key! One on one. Unfortunately they are losing relevance. The time and space required for it often consumed by mobiles, games and the like!

    It is frustrating! But wherever conversation has survived, it is an oasis of good mental health!

  • Roshni

    A very relevant point, especially nowadays!!

  • Communication is so very vital and that is certainly missing in our families! A few days ago, we went out for dinner and just adjacent to our table sat a very young married couple. The guy was busy on his phone, not talking but checking or fidgeting with it and the girl looked so lost and lonely, and when I smiled at her, she smiled back… seeing her really saddened me!

  • You have touched upon a vital subject. It plays a crucial role in developing relationships be it a family or any other segment of the Society. Unfortunately, no School or College provides this important skill.

    As far as the couples are concerned, in my opinion there’s a need to get Pre-Marital education that will cover some of the essential aspects related to the marital journey.

    I have just made a humble beginning by addressing some social evils on my blog and hope to establish a Marital Academy in the years to come.