My twelve year old son has been begging for a cell phone for well over a year now. He tried every possible angle to convince us that he should have one. He even told us that everyone in his middle school (52 kids– he goes to a small school) had one except for him. He later corrected himself and said that he wasn’t the only one, he just felt like the only one.
Many friends encouraged me to hold out as long as possible. I just couldn’t imagine who he needed to stay in contact with so much, especially since he saw so many of his friends at school each day. He got an email address a year or so ago, and that seemed to satisfy his need to stay in touch with friends outside of the school day. However, it seems that as things go with youth these days, email is apparently a dinosaur, and texting is now the way to stay in touch.
My sister-in-law actually changed my perspective on the situation a few months back. She told me that it was actually a good sign that he wanted a phone to stay in touch with his friends. She said that it was normal for his age, and that I should worry if he didn’t want to pull away from us and connect more with his friends. The more I thought about her comment, the more it made sense.
Finally, we decided he was ready to have one. He understood that it came with a few stipulations, most important, a $10 a month bill (he also paid for half of the phone itself). He has to be reasonable with how many texts he sends each day, and the phone can’t be a permanent appendage (after a reasonable time for him to enjoy the “newness”), but he also needs to figure out how to manage his first monthly bill. He is confident that he can manage this responsibility. He is volunteering to help with plants and mail for vacationing neighbors, and is doing additional jobs around the house. He appears receptive to requests to do laundry and dishes, whereas weeks ago there would be a lot of grumbling before accepting the duty. All in all, his level of maturity seems to have bumped up a level. I have also noticed him being more respectful and attentive to his family.
Is this change due to the fear of losing his new phone if expectations aren’t met, or is it due to the his sense that we felt he was responsible and ready for this move up the social ladder? I know that most of the time children rise to expectations, and they respond to being treated more maturely. It is undoubtedly a change for us all, but one that, so far, has the makings of all things positive!