The Sassy Housewife is weekly advice column on Momaha.com by Danielle Herzog. She’ll cover the adventures in housewifery — from parenting, entertaining and recipes to the interests of a been-there-done-that and somewhat-know-it-all wife. Sassy Housewife runs every Saturday. Have a question for her? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
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Dear Sassy Housewife,
Our 14-year-old daughter wants a cell phone. All of her friends have one and she has been asking us for one for over two years. She plays in after school sports and car pools with other kids, so I see the allure in her having one. I also see the young kids always playing on their phones and never actually socially interacting, and I don’t want that for my child. I’m also worried about the safety of her having one and being on social media sites. At home, we can monitor that on our computer, but I’m worried about it on her phone. Any advice?
Dear My Old School Momma,
Hold on a sec, I just have to finish this round of Word With Friends on my iPhone, then check my Facebook newsfeed, answer a few emails, and then quickly shoot over to my “Us” magazine app to find out which gender Kim and Kanye’s baby is going be.
OK, I’m back now.
Oh…. I see…. You’re worried that she’s going to turn into… uhm…. me.
Well here’s the good news – I’m 38 and I only just got a smart phone two years ago. The bad news? She probably knows how to work one better than any of us.
Listen, I understand your hesitancy to get her a phone – you have a very valid point in worrying about her online safety. However, you don’t have to buy her a phone then give her all the freedoms of an adult.
First of all, you don’t have to get her a smart phone. They still make flip phones — I think? Back to your daughter, if you do get her a smart phone or any type of phone, set strict guidelines for its use. Who is paying the bill? Will she be allowed to text on it? What social media sites will she be allowed to be on? What rules and restrictions do you already have in place for those sites?
The best advice I can give you is to require her to turn the phone into you at the end of the night. The phone would be stored in your room until the morning and she must be informed that you have full access to all the information on it. That means that you can see her texts to her best friends about what boy they want to kiss at the upcoming dance, or who isn’t friends with someone anymore because they caught them listening to Justin Beiber. Whatever it is, you get to see it.
Now the hard part as a parent is trying not to mock your child repeatedly for what you read. Tell them that you will only discuss with them things that are of serious concern to you. You aren’t there to be her best girlfriend, you are there to be her mother. Plus, you’ll want to save all that ridiculous stuff she said to tell her prom date someday. That’s the truly fun part of being a parent. That and changing her ringtone to Justin Beiber’s latest teenybopper tune when she’s not looking.
Danielle Herzog, a married mother to two, blogs for momaha every Wednesday. She taught middle and high school students and served as a student counseling advisor in the Washington D.C. area prior to moving to Omaha. She was a project manager for the Washington D.C.-area’s Boys and Girls Club and is currently completing her master’s degree in counseling at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
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