Contracts for children.

Sometime ago there was an article in the paper about a mom giving her 13 yr old son an Iphone with a contract (18 points)

( ps, does anyone know why the link icon isn’t working on my wordpress?)

Anyway, when I read the contract, I felt pretty annoyed.

Yaya has a smart phone. I bought it for her when she was in grade 9. Until grade 8, she used something she calls a brick. ( apparently that is the name for any phone that isn’t a smart phone). Her brick was my old Nokia. The reason she was given a phone was that she could call me in case of emergency !

Joining high school was  a life changing event and I wanted my child to concentrate on things other than texting. I opted for a one year prepaid contract and paid 10$ and told her that I will not be topping up the phone for the rest of the year and the phone is only for emergency.

She never touched her phone and when I really had to call her ( the time the road near home was closed due to flood and the buses were getting diverted) I couldn’t get through her because the battery was flat ! It happened many times and I realized I needed to get her a phone that would tempt her to charge it and use it. So I bought her a smart phone in grade 9. She uses the phone as an MP3 and because she can’t live without music, she always ensures that the battery is fully charged.

I don’t know her password and I am not interested to know it. I have raised a responsible child and at the age of 14, I should be able to trust her.( if I can’t, then I failed as a mother!) I refuse to snoop on my children. I refuse to be a control freak.

When Yaya had a crush on one of her friends, she was texting all the time. ( I knew there would come such a day and opted for a cellphone plan that gave unlimited txt).

When I gave her the phone, I explained to her that it is her phone and she should be responsible. ( How do you tell a child that a gift given is not theirs but the mother’s because the mother paid for it. Every gift that I gave my children, I paid for it and they own it.)

Do I worry that my child will use the phone inappropriately? Again, wasn’t I the one who raised her the last 14 years? Did I not teach her what is right and what is wrong? Of course, she is a teenager, she is bound to make mistakes, but there is only so much I as a mother can do. However, I will still be there for my child, if she screwed up. That is my job !

And my wonderful darling too got a ‘brick’ when he joined grade 8.It was a new Nokia phone that I bought from Kmart for 10$. And he being my child, decided to see if the phone will work after he dipped it in the swimming pool. He didn’t drop it, he deliberately dipped his phone in the water. ( I haven’t forgotten how I tried to slice the strap of my ugly bata sandals in the hope of getting a new/better one!) My son could have told me that he accidentally dropped the phone in the pool, but he was truthful and I didn’t scold him. I did tell him that I was upset with him and he apologized. I tried all the known remedies to dry the phone, but it couldn’t be revived! So he got the same brick I gave Yaya when she was in grade 8, albeit without the back cover. He uses a rubber band to hold the battery in place.

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He will get a smart phone next year and he too will be the owner of the phone. I will not ask him for the password. Because the more my mother tried to control me, the more I rebelled and the more creative means and ways I found to escape her. The last thing I want for my children to feel chained and bound at home. My home should be a safe haven for them and not a place they are dying to get out from.

I hope my son will answer the phone when he sees my number. But if he didn’t, I will know that he is busy and he will call me back when he is free. At no time, my child should feel obligated to answer my call because he is worried that he will lose the phone because I paid for it and expect him to be at my beck and call.

It is every mother’s duty to raise children well, but you can do it without having a contract.



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