J.K. Simmons Was Right — All Those Calls To Your Mom Really Do Matter

Source: AP
Source: AP

Seriously — even emojis count.

On Sunday night, as J.K. Simmons accepted his first Oscar for best supporting actor, the Whiplash actor reminded viewers that it's our parents who we have to thank for our greatest achievements. And that we should call them. All the time.

In a moving speech that kicked off the night's celebrations, Simmons skipped the shout-outs to movie executives and instead focused on the people always behind the scenes, namely his "remarkable" wife and "extraordinary" children. Then he went on to send a powerful message to the crowd:

"And if I may, call your mom. Everybody — I'm told there's like a billion people or so. Call your mom, call your dad. If you are lucky enough to have a parent or two alive on this planet, call them. Don't text, don't email.
Call them on the phone. Tell them you love them and thank them and will be to them for as long as they want to talk to you."

As it turns out, Simmons is right on the money: Calling our parents may be the best way to make our parent-kid relationships great.

Source: YouTube

J.K. was totally right. His sweet sentiment was met with a warm round of applause from the crowd in the Dolby Theatre and, judging by Twitter, served as a compelling reminder for those who have missed a fair share of check-ins with their parents.

There's a reason why Simmons' speech hit so close to home. Studies have shown that spending those few extra minutes a week to contact the people who raised us can do wonders for the health of each individual's relationship.

A 2014 study from the University of Kansas examined the relationships and communication patterns between emerging adults and their parents. Surveying 367 adults ages 18 to 29, the study found that "communication competency," or how effectively individuals got their point across, played the largest role in determining relationship satisfaction between adult kids and their parents. In other words, it really pays to call Mom.

Yes, even texting works: While Simmons' "Don't text, don't email" motto may have something to it, the study determined that the child-parent relationships that experienced the most satisfaction (on the end of the children) were those that used three or more methods to keep in touch. Facebook, email, texting, Snapchat, the good old landline — any combo can work.

Even brief and frequent points of contact did wonders to improve relationship quality. That means that, whether it's a quick text or a one-hour phone call, the small ways of saying "I'm thinking of you" can vastly improve the overall relationship between adult children and their parents.

Communication studies doctoral student Jennifer Schon, who authored the study, told the Chicago Tribune that it may be tough to get parents to embrace new technologies. "They don't see the point in them, or they seem like a lot of trouble," she said. "But this study shows while it might take some work and learning, it would be worth it in the end if you are trying to have a good relationship with your adult child."

Luckily, most of us are killing it in the parental communication front (perhaps even going overboard?). Recent surveys have shown that 20-somethings are much more communicative with their parents than mom and dad parents are with their own. In fact, 31% of millennials are in contact with their parents at least once a day or more. Adapting the methods of communication to fit our modern needs is just fine — What's important is our constant commitment to the kinds of relationships we often take for granted as we get older. 

Just take it from best actress nominee Reese Witherspoon, who posted a series of heart-warming texts that her mom sent her before last night's awards show, proving that all forms of communication with our parents really matter (and that there's nothing more adorable than moms using emojis).

And for those of us who looked down at our phones and saw woefully mom and dad-less streams, Simmons' speech reminded us of the rewarding efforts we can all make for the people who've always been there. Sometimes we just need a wake-up call.

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Kate Hakala

Kate is a freelance writer and regular contributor to Mic. A former editor of Nerve, her writing has also appeared in the The New York Times, Playboy, Refinery29, Salon, and The Daily Dot. On most days she is thinking of Louis C.K.

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