During the last election season, there was a popular article about why some college students weren’t sending in their absentee ballots: They didn’t know where to buy stamps. Then, a friend told me that her daughters didn’t know where on the envelope to put the stamps. Others have said their teenage kids didn’t know where to write the address and return address.
Sure, texting and Snapchat have replaced a lot of written communication for our teens, but they will still need to use good old-fashioned snail mail once in a while. Here’s what you’ll want to make sure your teenagers know.
When Should I Mail a Letter?
To say thank you
Letters are still appropriate for thank-you notes. It’s fine to call Grandma to say “thanks” for the birthday gift if she’s not a stickler for old-fashioned etiquette. But as they get closer to the professional world, teenagers should know that a thank-you letter will help them stand out. Whether it’s a neighbor who met your teen for coffee and career talk, or the employer who interviewed your kid for an internship, it’s best to follow up immediately with a brief note of thanks for that person’s time.
To express condolences
In the case of a death, a mailed handwritten sympathy note is still the gold standard. Hopefully, your teen hasn’t had much experience with this kind of situation, but you’ll still want to make sure they know this sooner rather than later.
And, of course, when they’re in college, they’ll need to mail their absentee ballot!
Show Them How
While this may seem overly simple to parents, it might help to mark up a sample envelope, showing where to put the stamp, address, and return address. Let your teenager know that (as of now) domestic stamps cost 55 cents each, that each regular-size envelope requires one stamp, and that they can buy stamps at the post office and even the grocery store.
That wasn’t so bad, right? And who knows—maybe, years from now, that all-grown-up kid will even mail you a greeting card.