The Rules of Texting Your Dad

It’s an artform

Collage by Maria Jia Ling Pitt

Dads love the weather. They are always talking about predicted snowstorms and heatwaves while providing tips for maximum safety. Dads also love traffic reports. They stay up-to-date on driving conditions, backed-up tunnels and parking and are the only humans who still tune into AM radio. They love announcing random backyard animal sightings and reporting the minutia of their days. Dads love to break news about grocery-store sales, or when there’s a contest to win a frozen turkey, which is always. A dad’s favorite thing to do is warn anyone who will listen about the perils of having their identity stolen. And at 10’clock, every dad likes to ask where his kid is. (And who she’s with, and which one is that again?)

It’s all proof that every single dad in the whole wide world could operate as a one-man public-access news channel…if only he could remember what channel it was on or find The Damn Remote™.

This is why he has you, of course, the recipient of his Dad Texts. You are his loyal audience and target demographic, locked into his endless monologue by familial ties and also because you may or may not still be on his phone plan. This way of communicating did not come easy. It took time, mutual respect and patience. So much patience. Yet after an array of emoji tutorials and at least three “gif” explanations (you’re still working on screenshot memes — he keeps asks you about the comments below the caption and misses the point of what you thought was funny), you learned that Dad Texts are just another way of saying “I love you.”

I’m sure you’re a pro, but just in case, here are the rules of Dad Texts.

1. Always be on call to answer questions about pop culture and Facebook.
Even when you yourself have no idea what he is talking about.

2. Keep a running list of your dad’s passwords, including capitalization and potential additional security questions.
Then remain calm as he assures you it’s not working. (He just forgot to do the capitalization as you said. Give him three tries but if he locks himself out, for the sake of your sanity, turn your phone off for a bit.)

3. Express excitement any time he sends you photos of his most recent Home Depot Garden Center acquisitions.
If you’re too busy for a word-y response, a bouquet of exclamation points will suffice.

4. Be prepared to answer random bits of trivia at all times.
You are his phone-a-friend.

5. Not every text warrants a response. 
To dads, the father/daughter text chain is as much a way to communicate as it is a diary for their various random streams of consciousness and hour-by-hour life updates.

6. Don’t forget to sign up for weather alerts!
Just kidding. There’s no sign up. You’re getting these updates whether you want them or not.

7. Brace yourself for unsolicited advice.
Breathe because he means well and be thankful you have your very own life coach on call 24/7 except for when he’s watching Dancing With the Stars or reading the latest John Grisham novel.

8. Learn to meditate.
A text from dad can be a gift or trigger your Sunday Scaries five days early.

9. When dealing with logistics, NEVER CALL. Always text.
If he can’t hear you, he’ll go into worst-case-scenario mode.

10. Memorize at least a few of his most frequently-used parking spots and driving routes.
He’s going to tell you about them anyway (especially when stuck in traffic and Wayze suggests something risky). It’s nice to know what the hell he’s talking about.

So long as you are exceptionally clear, don’t use weird lingo and are careful to either not make or correct typos (dads read them literally and in some cases, this can cause panic) you and your dad have a life of beautiful conversation ahead. In fact, I think he’s texting you right now.

Tell me what he says in the comments below or better yet, get him to join in.

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  • Harling Ross

    Mr. Diamond is an actual diamond

  • Anne Dyer

    As your father ages you also need to be readily prepared for daily updates on that knee/back/toe injury.

  • belle

    My dad is an emoji PRO! His favorite is the caterpillar.

    • Amelia Diamond

      oo! that’s a sneaky one

  • My mom and Dad are going from music fest to music fest throughout the month of June (first was Bonnaroo, now they’re at Firefly) so Dad’s texts are concert pics and vids of my mom dancing.

    • Amelia Diamond

      um that’s amazing

    • Meg S

      My parents send me selfies from their vacations. Best thing ever.

  • Aydan

    texting with my dad is my favorite thing!

  • Haley Nahman

    I love Eric <3

    • Amelia Diamond


  • Lina

    My dad hates texting but loves to prank call me with his latest favorite joke (by which I mean, the same joke he tells me multiple times a day since 2015)
    he also loves calling people when he’s in the car (even when other people are in the car with him) but avoids talking on the phone when he isn’t in the car.

    gotta go, need to prank call my dad!

    • Amelia Diamond


  • the hahahaha!!! are my favorite.

    • Amelia Diamond

      I know kills me

  • ESW

    My favorite text from my dad is his telling me where to buy a candle that smells like bacon, and another that smells like dirt!! (He used two exclamation points.)

  • Rachel Zuckerman

    Dad Zuck favorite topics:
    1) Where are you
    2) How to prepare for a natural disaster
    3) What is that Instagram about?

    • Amelia Diamond


  • Meg S

    Dad’s favorite topics:

    1) Weekly meal deals at Fresh Market
    2) The menu for our weekly dinner (sometimes combined with 1)
    3) Things to buy on Amazon

    Favorite text from my Dad: “I’m not old, everyone else is.”

    We talk a lot about food. And how I’m a bad influence for encouraging his bad behavior.

    • Amelia Diamond

      hahaha my dad and i talk a lot about food, too!!

      • Meg S

        Food is his thing. We talk about it all the time. That, and food related toys. I have yet to beat the kabob grill baskets from two father’s days ago. He still talks about them.

  • His most recent breakthrough involved the “SLAM” effect or “FIREWORKS” effect on his iPhone… every text I received was “Sent with ____ Effect” including a simple “Okay.” My favorite series was the taken-from-below-chin-level selfies that I used to get quite often (normally after a workout or at his desk) with the caption “Sup.”

    • Amelia Diamond

      ok i am no better though because when i discovered this i couldn’t stop and now i can’t make it work anymore?? any it’s so sad

      • I mean… I totally did to. So I’m being hypocritical, but it’s somehow oddly hilarious when it’s my dad doing it. That’s actually quite upsetting that it doesn’t work anymore though! It’s the greatest sneak attack for emphasis.

  • Sara

    Dad’s texts are often written like very formal emails – usually to tell me to check my email. A recent one:
    Dear Sara,
    I hope you’re having a good day! Just wanted to let you know I sent you an email, so check it when you have a chance. Let me know what you think. Mom planted her flowers today. Say hi to Scott.

    It’s the best. I’ll miss these extra formal texts someday!

    • Meg S

      That’s how my Mom texts. But with emojis. Hearts everywhere.

  • Monique

    Thanks for the article! I constantly have the same conversations with my father, only I didn’t really appreciate, until now that is.

  • mollie blackwood

    My dad’s go to response to almost everything I text him is… “Kool”… yes, always with a K. He also sends me unflattering selfies and pictures of their dogs.

    • Lindsey

      Do we have the same dad?

  • My father signs off with ‘love, Dad’ and it’s so endearing.

  • D M Day

    It takes my Dad around 10 minutes to type OK on his phone… 😉 He has recently “found” Facebook though!