If your household is like ours you are encountering a whole new sociological phenomenon: the ‘always- in-contact’ generation. Yesterday this hit an all new level for our family.
I was making my morning latte when the telephone rang and my husband answered. I heard the following his-half of the conversation: “Hello” “What?? (snicker, snicker)” “Okay” and he hung up. I was instantly curious.
Apparently it was our daughter… from the downstairs bathroom! She found herself in that ever-so-awkward, yet familiar predicament. The toilet paper roll was empty. She had tried yelling for more t.p. but the hissing of my cappuccino machine drowned out her cries for help. So, typically innovative, she used her ever-present cell… and called.
Really… a cell phone, even in the bathroom?
I have benefited from my daughter’s cell. I can get a hold of her at anytime because we have an understanding that she ALWAYS answers my calls (thank you call-display). She lets me know her change in plans… which happens often in a teenager’s world. I love the safety aspect. She can call from any situation where she feels uncomfortable and we will come immediately to pick her up. Yup – I am a fan of the cell phone. Are you surprised?
I’ve read so many articles crying the woes of the ‘need-to-be-in-touch’ generation. I am mystified that teens find it socially appropriate to be visiting and texting at the same time. I’ve had groups of teenagers in my home and I get such a kick out of watching each one intermittingly pull out their cell, read and respond to a text and flip it closed while hardly breaking from the conversation. The best was observing a group of teens watch a movie together. They text each other – even though they were only a sofa away!
Okay, so it is a bit much. But I am willing to embrace a bit of cultural diversity in order to create relationship. Over the years we have come to some clear agreements with our cell-packing teens.
- My calls are ALWAYS answered. I get priority calling as they keep me in the loop with their schedule. Sometimes I call just to say I love ‘em and to throw them off…
- No texting at the table or during family discussions
- The phone is not to be used after 11 pm on week-days / midnight on weekends. This is to support self-moderation. We came up with this rule together… literally bartering to a negotiated agreement. This needs to be age appropriate.
- When texting around me, I have the right to ask who they are communicating with. This is one way that they respect me, but really… I’m just nosey. They get it.
- I will never read their text messages. This is me respecting them. Although tempted to read their texts to ‘check up’ on them, my hubby and I agreed that this would be inappropriate parenting. Trust needs to be earned BOTH ways.
- They pay their phone bills. This one has caused a bit of consternation, but we found ‘pay as you go’ the best way to learn cell phone moderation. A friend of mine was as horrified as her daughter, when they received her first month’s phone bill… over $300!
- There are agreed upon consequences if these guidelines are broken.
As a parent, I am responsible to understand the culture that my children are living in. My role as a parent is constantly changing as my children grow. We pick our battles, we come up with negotiated guidelines and we don’t nag. Building trust and respect both ways allows them to make mistakes and we offer support whenever we can.
And, when they call asking for toilet paper… we laugh all the way to the supply closet. I’m glad she called.