We are fast approaching the teen years and our triplets are without cell phones. I know, can you even believe it? What kind of parents are we?
Let’s actually take a look at our kids. Oldest is all about the social and would not be able to focus on anything else but that device, so he’s out. Not mature enough. Middle probably wouldn’t hardly look at the thing, but he would lose it in the first week anyway. Not focused enough. Third born is completely responsible enough for a phone, but is the one to say, why do I need one anyway? Not interested enough. And baby girl just turned 11 and in our book is way too young for such a device. Not old enough.
According to these four, they are the only ones left on the face of the earth without a cell phone. Perfect. They don’t realize this, but this is exactly the point! Don’t you want your family to be different?
1. I am a working adult and you are a child
When did our parents allow us to have the exact same privileges and material items that they had when we were growing up? Yeah, right. I find it so interesting that this isn’t really the case anymore. I get that it’s a totally different day and age, but come on. I’m afraid for this generation that we are raising. I really am on many levels. What do 12 year olds really need with a cell phone and why are we as parents so concerned with being able to be in constant communication with our kids? I think it’s very unhealthy. The boys are away at church camp this weekend and believe me, it is very strange to not be able to get ahold of each other. But, it’s OK and I have to think healthy for all of us to learn to do so. I’m really not sure if they even made it there. I guess I will find out when I go to pick them up from church this afternoon.
2. Delayed gratification. All good things come to those who wait.
I want my kids to be able to learn to wait for something. Delayed gratification is a good thing. Just because you are turning 13 and because it’s what everyone has and is doing, isn’t good enough. Every child that jumps in the car with us to go anywhere, pretty much whips out their phone and mine lean over to assist in playing the game or checking out instagrams or texts. It makes me so sad that kids don’t even know how to just “be” in the car anymore. I know we are happy when they have these gadgets in hand because it honestly means more quiet time for us, but I also know it can be detrimental. Can you imagine a road trip without a gadget in our child’s hand? We don’t even want to think of it. I’m thinking of making our car a tech free zone. Won’t my kids just die over this one?
3. Kids need to navigate life lessons
The other night, baby girl’s bestie was spending the night because it was just convenient for all involved. But, she was calling her Mom (who was out to a nice adult dinner) at 10:00 pm saying that she couldn’t sleep and she wanted to go home. Boy do I get that. I remember feeling like that a time or two growing up on sleepovers. The difference is I had no cell phone to call my Mom, so I suffered through. And you know what? I made it through and learned from it I’m sure. I learned that it wasn’t so bad after all or I learned that I didn’t want to attempt that again. Lesson learned either way. I love this girl and love her parents even more, so this isn’t a judgement, just an observation of what we are creating and I notice it every day.
4. Do kids really need another distraction at school?
I was in for a presentation in one of my son’s 6th grade classes and the teacher was having to tell students that they could use their phones to research the project but she would be walking around to make sure no one was texting. Honestly? Do teachers today really need one more distraction to worry about?
I actually had to sign a waiver for a different teacher saying if the students could use their phones in class. I signed it and checked the no box. They don’t even have a phone, so of course the answer would be no, right? A few weeks ago, she calls me and tells me that I was the only one who said no and that I may want to rethink my answer. So she sent back the form again so I could say Yes, my sons can use someone else’s phone in class. This is crazy to me.
5. Hindering social relationships-building close safe friendships
Where we live, “dating” is rampant at this age too. It is very easy to fall into a “relationship” behind texts and web posts. I definitely remember having an eye for boys at this age, so I get that. But, I certainly wasn’t telling ANYONE about it besides my very best friend, who was telling me her deepest secrets at the same time. We are loosing all innocence giving kids too much too soon. My kids need to figure out who they are and become somewhat secure in that before they can handle navigating a relationship over texts and facebook.
6. Do you have a job?
Why are we willing to fork out $40 a month or so for these kids to have a phone/data plan, etc? We’re not kidding when we ask our kids how they plan to pay for this? Do you have a job to support this cell phone thing? We have a valid point and that usually shuts them right down. Point taken. We as parents need to make sure we are creating a desire to work toward something in our kids so that they are able to buy the things they want one day. It isn’t going to be pretty when they are expecting you to pick up the tab when they are 25. They’d better get used to the idea now. I started working at Burger King as soon as I turned 15 so that I could start buying things I desired. My parents were willing to drive me and pick me up smelling like a greasy Whopper all in the name of helping me become independent.
7. Learning independence
Our kids don’t need phones also because everyone around them has one that they can always use. This happens a lot. Although, when they try and call from a friends phone from the bus or school to try and plan a
playdate a hangout, I have to remind them that this is why they don’t have their own phone. I don’t want to hear from them. Love them dearly, but we can talk in person when they get home. Musical son has to go into the school office once in a great while to let us know that his lesson got done early or was cancelled so we can come get him. Can you imagine actually using the school’s landline? Wow. It is possible….Otherwise, he has to sit outside and just wait……. old school style. Yes, he is still living.
8. Just because we can afford something, doesn’t mean we need to have it
Yes, we can absolutely afford phones and family data plans. But, I think this is another powerful message to our kids. Just because we can afford something, doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to spend our money on. Our kids have become very aware of people (from friends to the working poor that receive free meals at St. Vincent de Paul where we serve) that don’t have “money”yet have iPhones. They would never be able to “see” and question this with their own phone in hand. I think it’s a real observation.
Kids should not feel entitled to own phones or anything else for that matter! I guess when they are 15 we will be talking about how we’re not buying them cars either…. Before you feel too bad for my tweens, you need to know that they are still very much a part of their entitled generation as they each own an IPAD and have instagram accounts. One friend advised this so the kids could dabble in this part of reality so that they aren’t obsessed with it all come high school. I get that and I agree to a point. It is good for them to start learning to tread these waters but in moderation.
10. Need a real reason
I know people have absolute reasons for their kids to have phones- having an only child, older siblings who have them or kids who are going back and forth between homes due to divorce. To each his own and only you know your family dynamic. Our family just doesn’t have a good enough reason right now. Turning 13 just isn’t good enough for us. Sorry boys. (See opening paragraph!)