It was not meant to be a Christmas present (call me cheapskate but our family doesnâ€™t practise gift giving on Christmas) but on Dec 21 last year, J finally got her own handphone with a new SIM card on it.
The hardware is a used iPhone passed down to her from her aunt (Thanks to her; it was a relief to my pocket). Before she got her own mobile phone, she used mine to communicate with her friends and classmates. I was the middle-man. All messages for her came through me.
It worked out pretty well, at least for me. She didnâ€™t complain either. I didnâ€™t read her messages but at least I could scan and single out any messages that were not appropriate. It was something like a trial period for J before she was given a smartphone of her own.
You might be thinking that J is lucky to have her own phone. She is not. She only got it at the age of 14. Way too late among her peers. Most of her friends already got their phones ages ahead of J; some as early as 7 or 8.
Of course, J was pestering me to let her have mobile phone for so many times in the past. But I insisted the time was not right yet.
Some parents think I am too strict. But am I?
All her needs to communicate could be done through my phone. Itâ€™s a bit of hassle but I could live with it. She didnâ€™t need a phone.
I donâ€™t want J to have phone when she is not ready. I donâ€™t want to do it out of fear of being left out.
I donâ€™t like the idea of her having a phone for the sake of having the phone, just because her friends have it too. Itâ€™s not a convincing reason for me.
Having a phone has its responsibilities. You must know the limits of using the phone. What can be done and what canâ€™t be done. And you canâ€™t stare at the phone all day and do nothing else.
All these must be communicated to the child before and after he has the phone. Oftentimes, you have to do it repeatedly just to drive home the ideas.
How did I come to know the right time to allow J to have her own phone? You ask.
I donâ€™t know. I just knew. I had a realization that itâ€™s time for her to have a smartphone end of last year.
In fact, itâ€™s a combination of both emotional and logical decision.
Sheâ€™s a teenager now and her circle of friends expands. And she will slowly to start to mix around with friends more and going out with them. Having a phone with her makes things easier, more convenient, and safer.
Now that J has her own phone. When K saw it, he wanted it too.
I told him, â€œNot so soon, sweetie. You have to wait for the right time.â€
Note: For more ways to bring up a responsible child, check out “The Nonconformistâ€™s Guide to Parenting.”
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