JFF (Sort Of) Poll Regarding Kids and Cell Phones **ETA

Updated on September 04, 2017
M.6. asks from Woodbridge, NJ
23 answers

So, we have 6 kids, ranging in age from nearly 30 down to 16. For YEARS (and I mean years), we have had all the kids on our cell phone plan, plus my mom, plus hubby's folks. Everyone always had "good intentions" of paying us back each month, but rarely did we get a dime from anyone. About a year ago, I decided enough was enough. Everyone needed to get their own darn phone plans. Oddly, everyone quickly agreed and happily hopped off our plan and got their own. Except our oldest daughter. She is STILL on our plan and we are STILL paying her phone lease each month. I have nagged her every single month to get off. She finally is supposedly doing it today, but she is saying "Moooommmmmm, everyone's parent's pay their kids' cell phone!!!" This, coming from a nearly 30 year old woman . . . sheesh :) Now I am somewhat curious: Do you still pay for your adult child's cell phone? Why? Do you plan to stop at some point?

**You may be wondering why I haven't just kicked this last kiddo off - believe me, I've thought about it. However, in addition to her regular job, she freelances. She still has her original phone number since she was 16 yrs old and it is the one she has on her website and everything. I think that would be beyond punitive to simply shut her phone off and have her possibly lose that phone number.

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So What Happened?

Interesting thoughts from folks. I probably do make excuses for not kicking her off - I think because she is the only kiddo that never asked for any help over the years. We paid her first year of college (like we do for all our kids), she paid the other 3.5 years. She's never been short on rent, or her car payment, she always paid her own car insurance, never had to crash here in between moves, in fact she only lived at home the summer between her 1st and 2nd year of college - after that, she lived off campus year round and worked all summer. She also lives the farthest away (excluding my kiddos currently in the military) and has for years, so I don't get to do little things like take her to dinner once in awhile, or help her move. She is definitely one of my hardest working kiddos having always worked at least 2 jobs, plus usually has a freelancing thing going on the side. It isn't a matter of not being able to afford being on her own phone plan for sure.

I was mostly curious about her statement that all her millennial friends are still on their parents phone plan (including her 30 something boyfriend!). Obviously, no different than when my kids came home and said all their friends got to stay out until midnight :)


More Answers


answers from San Francisco on

We've had three young adult kids go to different plans over the past few years and they all got to keep their original numbers, even when switching carriers.
You're just making excuses for your daughter. Either admit that you like paying for her phone at the age of 30, or take her off of your plan. This isn't rocket science.
We paid through college, that's it.
And you think it's "punitive" for your adult child to suffer from a phone number change??? Seriously? I can't imagine what a princess that girl (who should be a woman by now) must be.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Oh good Lord LOL. I love ya but c'mon, your almost 30 year old daughter? That nonsense has to stop. Let her know that she has 30 days to move her number to her own plan. If she doesn't do it, if you want to be kind, then talk to your provider in advance and see if you can suspend her account without losing the number, or at least cut off her data or something else that will get her attention.

My oldest is 19. He goes to college and had a great full-time job. As of this month, his phone gets debited from his own account and not mine.

At age 30 I owned a home, was married and had four kids. My parents helped out with childcare but they definitely weren't paying my bills!

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Punitive? Give her 30 days notice and tell her that, if she values her business, she'll be a responsible businesswoman and get a phone. Does she pay her website hosting service? Does she expect her clients to pay her? Why doesn't she expect to pay you?

You are enabling her. I think you know it.

No, we stopped paying our son's cell phone bill when he got a job at 22 upon college graduation. We worked out a transition plan for everything - car payment, insurance, phone, and so on.

You've kicked everyone else off. Why does she think she's different?

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Our son is in college and he'll be on our plan till he has a job and can pay his own way.
No, everyone s parents do NOT pay their adult kids phone bills - some don't even pay for their teens phones.
She's using her phone number to hold you hostage?
Google this but I believe that a grown child can switch off a family plan onto a personal plan and keep their number.
Go with her to who ever your carrier is, watch while they do it, then take her out to lunch - and her phone bill is her problem from that point on.
Repeat the process/ceremony for every grown kid who becomes financially independent.
(My old boss has a son who is 17, has a job and pays for his phone AND makes his own car payments.)
Really - it's nice to be needed - but - it's GOOD for the kids to grow up.
Go make it happen!



This sounds less like she's taking advantage but more like you want to keep this connection with her.
What everyone else does is irrelevant.
It matters to your family dynamic if this causes friction with your other kids.
It doesn't matter to me if you pay for her phone till you drop dead - but when you eventually do - it might be harder for her.
Wouldn't it be better for her to know how to handle every facet of her life now so that she'll be use to it when you are not there?
As a parent - you do what's best for your child and that's sometimes different from what's best for you.
Aren't there other better ways to stay connected with her besides paying a bill for her?

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Lol, I've heard of kids being on their parents plan but not at the age of 30. Give her notice that at the next billing cycle you will no longer pay. If she loses her number, it is not your problem. My oldest (23) started paying his own when he graduated in December and started working. My youngest (22) just this summer started paying his own when he got a good summer job. I will probably start paying again since he's back in school now, until he graduates in May and gets a job.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I was in the same boat. While my kids did pay me they just didn't pay when the bill was due or would pay the following month making a double payment. Seriously who has time to keep track of all this stuff?!?!?!? I'm a mom not an accountant.

I announced that I was cancelling my plan on a certain date so if they wanted to continue to have their phone number they needed to set new service asap. I added each to be an administrator on my account when they were going to transfer their number so they have authorization to do so. Within a couple weeks everyone had their own plan and I ended up moving my hubby and me to another service (cheaper) taking our numbers too.

At this point you need to stop enabling your daughter. If her phone number is that important to her then she'll take action as soon as you cut off her service. Give her the exact date that you will be dropping her off your plan and then do it. If you feel this is too harsh then give her an exact date and then suspend her phone so the number is still there for her but zero calls and texts. She'll get it transferred asap when that happens.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Well ... now I am feeling mean..

Our teens pay for their own phones. So I can't relate. Phones to us were a non-essential item so that's how we saw it, you want it - you pay for it. It has worked out well. They still have money left over for fun with friends.

The only people I know who pay for stuff like that for their adult children are my in-laws. My BIL has his bills paid by his parents. They are enablers. He doesn't really respect them because he can walk all over them. It's a cycle ... they each complain about it, but if you say "You can just say no" they admit they enjoy having him dependent on them.

I think you can keep phone numbers - worth her looking into anyhow. I have friends who have kept numbers when they switched plans.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

I understand your curiosity. I'm often curious how other parents handle things. Just kind of taking a pulse to see how similar my thoughts are.

I don't like hard and fast rules about things like this. "She's over 18, so it's her responsibility." Every family's situation is different, and most people do things for their adult children.

We never have to hire a babysitter because we have grandparents. We do, however, pay for afterschool care and paid for daycare when they were younger. I know some couples that have no family and have to pay for sitters. I also know some couples who don't even have to pay daycare, as they have grandparents who watch the kids during the day.

Like you said in your SWH, maybe this is just one of those things that you can do for your daughter, who lives so far away.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

Well, my 2 are only 18 and 15. My thinking is that we will pay for their phone plans if they are in school or living at home. To me, it's a household, or student privilege, to be on our family plan. I have no interest in putting any extended family members on my plan. Both DH and I have siblings that do this. It's just not for us.

My 18 year old just started a full time job and thinks she is going to be earning enough move out soon. I'm not so sure, but if she does, we will drop her from our phone plan. Her iPhone 7 is hers to keep, but she will have to use free wi-fi, or get her own plan if she chooses to move out, and she is not enrolled in school or a job-training program.

Your adult daughter is capable enough to plan for a phone number change, with a courtesy notice from you. It's inconvenient, but certainly not devastating, or punitive. And it's not mean-spirited, unless you just do it first and not tell her and she discovers her phone stopped working. Stop nagging and listening to the whining. Just give her a date the service will cease and stick to it. Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Erie on

Our kids range in age from 15 to 23. They all pay(ed) for their phone service by working at our restaurant a minimum of 8 hours a month from the moment they got their phones. (We did pay for our oldest son's when he was in tech school for 18 months; he couldn't work enough to pay it due to his schedule, so we took it on as part of our contribution to his higher education). When they turn 16, they get put on the payroll and start to pay their own bill out of their own checking account. We've been with Virgin Mobile for YEARS, and no one person's bill was ever more than $40. I have access to all of the non-adult cell plans and can turn them off at will, but once they turn 18 that stops and they get their own passwords, can change carriers, etc...

So, as you can guess, I'm just sitting here stunned that you wouldn't have made her pay for it starting, at the latest, when she started working full time. I'm truly baffled.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Sorry - my kids know when they turn 18? They will be paying for stuff like this.

My oldest son will be 18 before he graduates from high school - so we are telling him - because he has a job - that he will be paying $100 a month for his car insurance and $40 a month for his cell phone. He balked at first - then we told him - at 18 - you are legally an adult. You need to start getting used to paying for things...

Right now - he pays for gas in the car he uses. He realizes it's not cheap and easy.

At 30 years old? I would cut the phone line. She's LONG been an adult. Time to cut the entitlement and have her be responsible. Are you paying her rent/mortgage too? if not - then you shouldn't be paying her cell phone bill. She knows you won't do anything about it - that's why she hasn't moved on it yet.

she can keep her number and really? that's a piss poor excuse not to be self responsible.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

Hell no and by saying that, you should realize she is just trying to manipulate you and think you'll be gullible enough to believe her and keep paying for it. I got a job while in high school and my car, cellphone, gas, car insurance...anything I wanted was something my parents said I could work, save up, and buy on my own so I had none of that stuff. I never made them pay for my phone nor asked for it because I knew the answer would be no. They wanted me to learn the value of hard work and although at the time I regarded it as mean, I ended up appreciating it.

As I worked and went to community college, I would be dropped off at school or my job and given a bag full of quarters to use a payphone if I could not find a landline, though my college class schedule was pretty much set in stone so my mother knew what time she had to pick me up, so really, no need for a cellphone. The quarters were in case the class ended earlier, or if I needed to stay later to work on group projects or attend tutoring. I got my first car at 21, made all the monthly payments, the down payment, car insurance, gas, etc., which is why it took a while for me to save up and buy, but I was very proud of myself for having worked my butt off...this was MY brand new car!

I got my cellphone a little earlier than that, paid for it myself, and paid my way through college, then moved out. I work with a couple of people still in their 20s and none of them have their parents paying their phone. They may still live with their parents because they are single and childless, but they buy their own clothes, food, pay their own car, and do household chores so 30 is beyond that point. Many people have families of their own by then and running a household. As to the concern of keeping her number, I have changed carriers about 4-5 times in my lifetime, starting over a decade ago, and during all that time, was able to keep my phone number. Even landline phone numbers these days can be ported, granted they haven't been inactive for years and re-assigned to someone else.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

It's not punitive if she refuses to act of her own volition KNOWING you are turning it off in advance. Just give her a deadline and say, "If you haven't ported your number before X date, then you'll lose the number b/c I'm turning it off." She's 30. It isn't up to you to "help" her be responsible for her website number.

As for what we do, well, we pay for both of our kids' phones right now. Son is about to come off, however. He is currently at boot camp. But once he graduates and gets his orders, it's on the list of things to take care of. We'll have a balance to pay off (bought him a new phone for Christmas on a Black Friday sale almost a year ago, and the price was the same regardless of if we paid up front or made mostly payments --with zero interest, so why front the money when it doesn't cost extra to pay monthly?), but we can do these whenever, and he can port his number to whatever he wants. But really no point in doing any of that before he knows where he's going and what the service is like there. Very likely could affect who he decides to sign up through.

Oh, he just turned 19. Was a college student at this time last year, or he'd already be off of our plan.
As a high school student, it was as much for US as for him. We wanted to be in communication with him. We live nearly 30 miles from the high school, and it was a security thing to be able to know he'd made it to school or was heading home after working and whether he'd be able to pick up his sister or not. Now, SHE is driving, and he's not here (at boot camp, like I mentioned), so I feel like it's a security issue for a 16 year old female on the interstate alone twice a day. Not to mention she's a dual enrollment student and takes college classes AT the college during her regular school hours, so she is coming/going from the high school campus during the day, too. Alone.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

OK, maybe she knows my 39 year old son, who is gainfully employed, lives in another state, and is still on our plan!

We made the offer, because it was so inexpensive to keep him on the plan, and he reimburses us the small amount.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

We allow our adult son to be on our phone plan, but he pays us monthly instead of paying the carrier (because being part of our family plan is much cheaper than his being on his own). We do pay for our daughter's phone service, but that's because she only receives Social Security Disability and cannot work or go to school.

The problem I see is in her statement "mom, everyone's parents pay their kids' phones". She's still your daughter, but not your kid. She's an adult woman with jobs, a car, and a home of her own.

I would drive her to the phone store - the physical store, like the Verizon or Spring or T Mobile store - and I'd ask them what is available to her. They have lots of options for low cost phones (might not be a smart phone, but it will receive calls), and she can keep her number. Show her the cheap flip phone she'll have, and remind her that you are the account holder and can change anything. If her phone is paid for in full, just trade it in. Then, tell her she can pay you the money IN ADVANCE for a nicer phone. Set up some strict boundaries and keep to them. It is often not until they see the phone they'll be stuck with that they suddenly become responsible and hand over the monthly amount required for their phone, their data and their line access.

You probably aren't starving, or going without electricity, because you pay her phone, so it's probably not the financial burden you're worrying about. What's probably nagging at you is the fact that she's 30 and still not independent.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I have a family plan, my 22 year old is on it and I pay for it as well as the line that has my late husband's phone. I am sentimental and have not cancelled his plan but at the same time, his number was the main number for our company so I do use that phone sometimes when getting calls from customers and vendors.

We pay 100% of daughter's expenses and I'll continue that until she graduates from college. When she gets a job out of college and is debt free (which she is) we will likely revise our plan or she can pay me. My plan is pretty affordable and it is likely she couldn't do much better with a single plan.

She does have a job and brings in money... that money is used for her food, gas, shopping, etc. She lives on her on in a condo we purchased for her when she started college in 2013 about 15 minutes from me.

I do know her bf (22) and his sister (24) are both on a group plan with their parents and their parents pay that bill.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

My two oldest pay for their own cell phone. They are in high school and have part time jobs. They pay $40 a month for the privilege of having a phone.

Your daughter? You are enabling her. She's making excuses to stay on your plan, when in reality? She has no excuse. Her number can and will transfer to a new company or plan. I'd tell her to stop whining and start being an adult. I know that sounds harsh, but really? She's 30 years old.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dayton on

I get that since she doesn't live nearby and I assume you don't see her frequently due to distance, busy schedules, etc., that you don't mind helping her some. But I wonder if your other children realize that she is still on your plan, thus you are paying her bill. With the others abiding with your wishes on this, I would think there might be some hard feelings that she has gotten away with not doing as you requested..especially by the younger ones.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

Wait - here is another thing to consider:

Some of the "Family Plans" are VERY good deals. Maybe, rather than looking at it as a choice between "parents pay" or "get your own plan", you should consider a third option: "Chip in for your portion of our [great deal] Family Plan."

Seriously - you might save your favorite freelancer a nice amount of money if she can just chip in towards your Plan.

But that "technique" still allows you to ask her to pay.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

my first phone was a pay by the minute no contract phone. my parents kept minutes on it for emergencies. i was 16 when i got it. when i started using the phone for more social reasons i had to add my own minutes to do that. when i moved out of my parents i was given the option to get my own phone with my own plan to save money on minutes. i was from that moment on... responsible for my own phone with my own money and bill.
i will adopt something similar for my children when the time comes. and i do not currently know any 30 year olds that have mommy and daddy paying for their phones.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

You don't have to shut down her number, but you can turn off her data and texting just to give her a nudge in right direction. I will leave my kids on my plan through college but after that it is on them.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Our 2 kids and my mom are on ours. My mom used to pay for her line and a little extra till about 2 years ago. But I have not asked for it since them. I know they are struggling and she's helped me through the years when I need it. And her line is only $10 a month anyway. Her husband buys her phone outright so it adds no extra to my bill. My boys 18 and 15 don't have jobs. My oldest is looking for one now. He was in band, guard, photography and lots of other things with school so we never had him get a job. But yes he's paid for all his photography equipment himself. He's done some part time stuff here and there. I don't know if it will have him pay his phone for a while. Once he starts driving he will pay insurance. My 15 year old can't pay his as he has no money and may not have a job for years. He is a competitive gymnast. So is at the gym a lot.
I do feel that 30 is a little old not to pay for it. Even if she stays on your plan. Shoot you said your 16 year old pays theirs.



answers from Oklahoma City on

I'd tell her that you are cancelling her plan as of October 1st and that she needs to figure this out. Then do it.

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