May 05, 2008,
K.B. asks from Redmond, WA on May 02, 2008
Cell Phone and Friends for Young Teen Boys
My 13 year old boy has not once this year invited any of his friends home. I've asked him many times to ask someone over and even offered him $. I worry about his friendships. His teachers say he is very well liked so much so that he talks too much at times in class. My son tells me that his friends all have cell phones and no one uses house phones. I've given him money as has his grandmother so he could get a cell phone but he says that the prepaid ones aren't the same and doesn't want that. We've learned the hard way already with older kids that putting them on our plan isn't the wisest thing as they really rack up the minutes. I don't like following what all the other parents do just because and I know that we live in a wealthier area so kids do tend to get allot of the name brand things. I feel horrible for my son and don't want him to be an outcast. He's a very clean cut short haired, very smart and attractive young man but junior high and hormones seem to be making him into a stranger. I don't want to spoil him because all the other parents around do however I don't want him to be a loser as his older brother calls those without phones at his school. Advice? Anyone else feel that kids are getting too much too early these days?
So What Happened?™
Thank you so much for all you're responses. It is very helpful and appreciate it a ton. :) The AT&T info. was esp. helpful and I'll look into it. It's close to summer and I'm hoping that I'll learn more from my son with more time we'll have. I know this is something all our parents said back when we were teens but it sure is hard raising teenagers these days. Grateful for blogging!
A.L. answers from Seattle on May 03, 2008
Hi Kristin, your letter could be me writing, we are going through the same with our 13 year old son. After having our 22 year old come back and actually thank us for not spoiling her with everything she asked for in high school, I do feel we are on the right track. Stick to your guns, if they need a phone for safety, activities or pick ups, then it's time, otherwise it's purely social. The social world is definitely changed from our generation, but our son does use the house phone because he doesn't have a cell. He thinks he's a loser (or he tries to make us think) as his 17 year old brother feels he's also the world's biggest loser without a car or only a minivan now and then. Trust me, the overindulged children are no happier and your kids will learn to recognize it in their friends soon enough and come to appreciate the lessons you are teaching them. When mine complain I tell them they are building the character necessary for life, cheesy I know, but it's true. You are in good company!
Good luck and God bless,
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K.R. answers from Portland on May 03, 2008
I may be getting old, but what ever happened to working for something you want? He wants a cell phone? Let him do chores for it. When he can pay the bill, he can have the phone. You will be teaching him that what he wants doesn't just fall out of the sky and he will develop a work ethic. There is another point to the phone issue, though. If your son is in middle school, a phone will give him a lot of freedom and if he is already not bringing his friends home, this may be a red flag to watch. I raised 3 boys and those tween/teen years are crucial. I know you want to trust your son, but you also want to protect him. Kids get together and do stupid things. It's a fact of life and you can't always prevent it. But--you can lay down some rules. If he is going to spend the night with a friend, or even if he is going to be out late with a group, you need to meet these kids--and (horrors) even talk with their parents. Affluence doesn't guarantee good choices. Just because he goes to a "good" school doesn't guarantee he won't succumb to the group. I know this may sound harsh, but trust me, being "strict" might just save you some heartache further on.
Best of Luck,
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M.P. answers from Portland on May 02, 2008
First: not all the kids have cell phones. If his friends have cell phones he can still call them from a house phone. Could he be using this ruse tryihg to get you to buy a phone?
Since his teacher says that he talks with friends at school I wouldn't worry about him not bringing friends home. I'd let him know that you would like to meet his friends and they're welcome in your home and then I'd let it drop for a month or so and see what happens.
At thirteen he's entering the years in which he's once more learning who he is and how he fits in the world. zhe's begun the process of breaking away from his parents. It's basically a repeat of the two's; finding more independence. He may not be bringing his friends around for all sorts of different reasons. Keep an open mind, observe, but don't push. Be available if he wants to talk but let him experience the small amount of independence.
Being a mother of a teenager, as you already know from having older children is frustating. And each teen is different. so it's not like you know what to do after you've raised the first one.
I wish you well.
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T.J. answers from Seattle on May 02, 2008
I would let him know that if he can use a prepaid one without going over for three months then he can get a "real" one at that time. They do make prepaid phones that look cooler than the cheaper looking ones, I'm sure that's a concern of his =)
My relationship with my (grand)mother was one of total honesty, she knew everything we did and was very open and fun, so all my friends always came to our house. Make sure your kids can talk to you about anything without judgement (especially important if he's your stepson, you didn't say), and don't worry all teenagers act aloof like this at times, we were there not all that long ago! Just be glad he's not a girl, I've heard that's worse, too bad for me with two of them!
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C.H. answers from Seattle on May 03, 2008
My sons are aged 13 and 14 and we gave them each a second-hand cell phone for their 13th birthdays. However, our boys mostly chat with their friends over IM on their computers and my 13 year old also uses the house phone to call his "girl friend." They are not allowed to text and both have followed that rule because we told them we would take away their phones if they did text- it is far too expensive for our plan, even though both boys have jobs (mowing lawns for neighbors and babysitting- we paid for the babysitting course, though) and they have offered to pay for their texting minutes. I agree that children today should not get everything they want and should have to work for it. My 14 year old is going to Costa Rica with his Spanish class at Spring Break 2009 and he is paying one third the cost of the trip- $700. He also worked by babysitting to buy his own iPod, but we have taken it away on occasion to make sure he is keeping B's or higher at school. The Parenting with Love and Logic is a great way to go as the boys make their own choices about most things and they have to live with the consequences of their actions.
Good luck with your 13 year old- I also can't believe my two are as tall or taller than I am (and I am 5'8"- my 14 yr old is 6'!) and I agree, they are like strangers sometimes!
T.F. answers from Eugene on May 02, 2008
This is strictly my personal opinion - but I think this Cell phone stuff for young kids is getting out of hand. My goodness - it's like a competition with the Jones with everything now a days. Well, I guess it always has been, but come on as young as a 9 year old having a stupid cell phone - why do I need to give my son at that age a cell phone. You would think I would know where he is at all times...for the most part. If you want to talk on the phone with your friends - by golly you can wait until you get home from school. Besides - ironically when I was younger I was out of city bounderies that the small town that I went to school at was long distance - so I couldn't talk to my friends until I was in middle school.
Anyway - If you feel that it is necessary for your son to have a cell phone by all means - go right ahead. They have these plans now that is a flat rate. But depending on how much you want to spend. Your son probably doesn't want the "Prepaid" Phones because they are supposedly not as "COOL" as AT&T and Verizon. Teenagers are always trying to out-do each other. What was the biggest item that everyone "HAD" to have when you were growing up? Good luck on this. I am definately not looking forward to that stage in my son's life....lol.
L.M. answers from Yakima on May 03, 2008
Kristen, I am in the same position that you are in with my kids going to school with some very well off families kids.I shop alot of resale stores and Ebay to see that they have what they need to fit in and it works very well.My kids are very appreciative and seem to handle the difference (we are middle-class family) very well. But sometimes problems arise. Such as my daughter is a junior and all the kids go to lunch everyday (open campus which I disagree so much with)and to Starbuck's. Wesolved this by giving her an allowance during the school year to go with them a couple times a week. Then she got a part-time job and she puts half of her check in the bank and keeps the other to spendon things she really wants to do but it has to last her until she gets paid again. It has taught her alot of responsiblity...and she can handle it.
Her brother is 16 and he isin basketball anditis very expensive ashe is on an Elite team that travels all over. He isvery appreciative of what he gets to do and knows that it costs alot. When he wasa freshman we had to buy a JV warm-up and a Varsity warm-up because he made the varsity and lettered as a freshman. each of the warm-ups were $180.00a piece as West valley seems to not look at the price of anything they just order what they want. You go into the parking lot of this school and they all drive better cars than I do. I drive a Dodge Ram Van and these kids drive..well onehas a Hummer and the other has an Audi..get my drift? Savannah and Mac are looking at Toyota or Honda.
As far as the cell phone I always went with the reasoning that when the kids started going places on their own and I wanted toreach them..I would get them cell phones. So they got one last Christmas. I got a plan through US Cellular that has all incoming calls free and calling to another US Cellular phone is free...every night after 7:00 all calls are free incoming and outgoing until after midnight and they had better NOT be on the phone after midnight! Starting friday at &:00 all incoming and outgoingcall are free until midnight Sunday. With this plan they havenever goneover their minutes...Along with this plan for $20.00 a month all phones can have unlimited text messaging incoming and outgoing...but I have not put it on their phones because I was afraid they would use it during school hours. For back up this plan comes with anationwide plan which I have so you never have to worry about areas being local. Plus there are 1400 anytime minutes that can be used if they have to use their phones other thanafter 7:00 pm. US Cellular is the only plan thathas free incoming calls and we could not survive without that.
AT&T has a plan for kids that you can put whatever amount of minutes on the phone and when they use those they cannot use anymore...but when their minutes are up they can still call you or 911 without any charge. I have heard that it is an excellent first phone plan for kids because you are in control. You might want to check on it.
My oldest daughter got her little girl a phone when she was 12 because she was staying after school for sportsand things but I still go with the reasoning that if you need it to keep track of them and communicate with them I think it is feasible.
If your son is feeling like he does not fit in it may besomething to look at. are you adding things to his schedule as he gets older such as staying and going to sports games and school activities after school? He willhave to be accessible to be friends with the kids by being involved inthe things his age kids are doing...but it sounds like you would love it if he wanted to do this. we have an open door policy at our house with rules...the kitchenand my bdroom are off limits except for snacks Imake available in a specific area for all the kids. Kids can entertain in their bedrooms but the doors have to be kept open if there are kids of the opposite sex....but our door is unlocked and when the kids' friends come they just tap on the door and come in and go off to see the kids. We have an 8:30 curfew time for company on weekdays and midnight on the weekends...it works very well because most of the time my kids are home.
we follow this as longas the kids arein bed at 9:00 on a school night and all homework is done before anything else is planned. Schoolwork is usually done right after school so they have the rest ofthenight to do what they want to do. I cook in the slowcooker during the week and they eat when they want. we have sit down dinners on the weekend and no one is allowed here during that time. But I think thishas really encouraged the kids to have their friends here and feel comfortable.Once in a while we run into the parent that is not respectful of our rules and refuse to pick their kids upon time and then I handle it with the parent. But mostof the parents the kids have been friends for so long they know our rules and abide by them and are happy their kids are hanging out here.
Go for the cell phone if it makes him feel a part of the crowd..search out the plan and protect yourself..call during the month and see how he is doing on minutes and following the rules. Make sure he is involved in after school activities and plans ...he will gradually just fall into having friends call him and want to come over. Your house will be full and you will wonder what you were so worried about and long for these days again. LOL L.
J.L. answers from Medford on May 03, 2008
I absolutly agree that kids get too much and too early these days. Our kids these days are spoiled rotten with no respect for adults and no character. I is truly sad to see.
I am a pretty strick parent. Of course I want to give my kids things and having our own business I am able to give them things. But just because I can and want to doesn't mean that I do. I think it's good for kids to learn that they can't have everything they want. Sometimes it's good for them to hear no! it's also good for them to learn to say their own money to buy things.
As for being an outcast, well, of course we don't want our kids to be made fun of and they should'nt have to go through that. But, I don't get my kids things so that they can fit in with others. I've always thought them that they need to be themselves. They don't need to worry about what other kids think and they don't need to please other kids. If they don't like my son because he isn't like them, then they aren't very good friends.
As for the phone, my 14 year old son has a cell phone. It's not a prepayed and he is on my plan but, he has a phone that I can program. He can only call the numbers i've programed into the phone to be called. He can only use so many minutes that i've programed the phone to allow. There are child safe phones available for kids, so that parents have the control still. Also I don't see any need for kids to have phones unless they really need them. My son only got a phone because he is in many different sports. I have three boys and a business and I can't be everywhere at once. The phone allowed me to keep track of my son and it allowed him to call me when he needed me to pick him up from one sport and drive him to the next. Unless is leaving the house for sports or on a bike ride etc. He isn't allowed to have the phone.
I know that this is just one way of handling this subject and you might not agree with how we do things in our home, but I hope it helps.