Wednesday, June 30, 2010

teen phone time

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Comment: Very good advice. THANKS!!

Questioner: Linda

Subject: Teen phone time

Question: We are having a problem with our daughter and the telephone. She is 12, almost 13, and has a 'boyfriend.' She wants to be able to talk to him on the phone each day. Dad and I feel she is too young to be talking to boys on the phone. She has a cell phone but we closely monitor it and how much time she spends on it (currently an hour a day after 7pm) We can tell by the phone bill if she called her boyfiend but not if he called her (all incoming calls simply say 'incoming').

She feels we are being very unfair to restrict her phone time with her boyfriend (actually we feel she is too young to have a boyfriend, but what are we to do?) So my question is simply, are we being too over protective? She sees this boy at church and youth activities. We feel that is enough. At what age should a girl be allowed to talk to boys for an hour at a time (which she would do, 7 days a week if we allowed her).
Thanks!!

Answer: Dear Linda:

Your daughter is 12 years old and obviously has already started to talk to boys on the phone. So this question is already a moot point. You have decided she is allowed to talk to her boyfriend for no more than an hour each day. Again this is already a case of after the fact.

The question is not really should she be allowed to talk to boys is it? It sounds more like should she be allowed to talk to this boy as obviously something is happening here that they want to talk to each so much each day.

I would stick to your current rules and then I would spend more time with your daughter. Of course she is going to push your boundaries on this topic it is was children do with their parents. However focusing all of your time and energy on getting her to quit talking to this boy is only going to strain your relationship.

You didn't mention if you have a good relationship with your daughter or not. Do you talk on a daily basis and do you listen more than you talk to her. This is the secret to parenting any teen or pre-teen. Often parents think talking is the most important part of communication and really the person with the most power is the one who does the most listening.

Two important issues with teens is to be honest with them. Let them know where you stand on issues of drugs, alcohol and sex in no uncertain terms. However also let them know you care about their opinion even though you may not agree with it and feel free not to agree with them. Although listening to someone rather than arguing with them will build respect for you. Anytime a parent can listen to their child's opinion no matter how different and still respect their own boundaries a parent is both modeling respect for their own values and their own boundaries.

You are not going to change the fact that your daughter "wants" to talk to this boy. Also think about what is really bothering you.

Fear? Fear she may go to far? Then have those talks about sex and remember to listen as much or more than you talk.

Grief? Are you grieving the reality that your baby is not a baby any more? That her attention is no longer focused or centered around her family?

These are normal parenting concerns however they are also your concerns and not hers. This seperates her from her parents and is part of the developmental stage teens go through as they begin seperating from their parents.

Remember you have done a good job so far and you need to trust that what you have taught her is going to carry her through her teen years.

Take care,
M Kay Keller