“You wouldn’t jump off a bridge just because everyone else is doing it would you?” my mother would ask me when I was a teen. To which I’d roll my eyes and pout that she just didn’t get it. Life as a teen is hard. Peer pressure is heavy. My mom was clearly too far removed from her own teenaged years to understand this, I told myself.
And then I grew up.
And now I have my own teenagers.
And just the other day, I said the same dreaded words. You wouldn’t jump off a bridge just because everyone else is doing it would you? And once again, my life came full circle as I stood and watched my teenaged daughter roll her eyes at me and mutter about me not getting it.
Oh I get it kid. I just don’t think you get it. But you will. One day.
Our latest tussle revolves around cell phones. My kids don’t have them. In fact, my son and daughter are (according to them, but they aren’t the most reliable sources) the only kids in their respective grades that don’t have cell phones.
I remain steadfast in my refusal to supply phones to my kids. I don’t think they need them. Other parents clearly don’t agree with me, as I spend every Monday thru Thursday afternoons at the high school and see more teens than I can count holding a cellphone in their hands, texting, talking and doing what else on them.
These other parents are killing me. That’s right. If you are a parent and you supplied your teenaged kid with a cell phone, you are making my life miserable right now and you need to cut that crap out.
My kids are taken to school by a yellow school bus and returned on that same bus. If they aren’t on the bus, they are with me. And when they aren’t with me, they are surrounded by other people who have cell phones. There is always a way to reach me in case of emergencies. We’ve never had that problem. There is absolutely no need for my kids to have a cell.
In fact, I don’t believe there is a reason to give a child a cell phone. I also don’t think my kids’ need a television in their room, a game system to call their own or a personal laptop in their rooms.
We supply all of that, out in the common area. Where I can keep an eye on what they are watching, playing or surfing. I like knowing what my kids are doing and more importantly, I like seeing them do it.
My children, however, disagree with our technological decrees and have mounted a full-scale terror attack on changing their father and my minds. It’s war right now and I blame Steve Jobs and every other parent out there.
Well, okay, not every parent. I’m sure some parents have good reasons to outfit their kids with cellphones. I’ll give those parents a pass. But I don’t really want to know what those reasons are. It would interrupt my judgmental ranting. So let’s just move on and pretend there is never a good reason for a child to have a cell phone. Because it fits better with my ideology. And I’m crazy like that.
Parenting a teen is hard work. Teens are capricious hormonal little badgers at the best of times and when you add in the weight of peer pressure, your lovely little teens can morph into beasties in the blink of an eye. Add in some budgetary constraints, individual values and a mother who is more stubborn than a cross-eyed mule and well, peer pressure is slowly killing my joy and strangling my love of parenthood.
It’s not that I’m not willing to compromise. I’ve heard my children’s arguments and I’ve listened. I’ve promised them they can have cell phones when they start driving, get jobs and can pay for their own cell bill. I think it’s a fair trade off. They’ll get what they want and I won’t go broke in the process of pleasing them.
To be honest, my husband and I are lucky. We probably could afford to pay for two teenager’s cell phone bills if we wanted to. But we don’t. We’d prefer to save that money to pay for our mortgage and their future educations. Or you know, food in general.
So I just dig in my heels and stick my fingers in my ears when ever my kids start yammering on about getting a cell phone. Because all the other kids have them. It’s not fair. Why can’t you be more like other parents?
My mother taught me how to avoid giving in to peer pressure all those years ago, whether I liked it or not. I never expected I’d be using those skills against my own teens or the peer pressure of keeping up with other parents.
I hope to pass along the same skills to my kids. I figure it’ll be easier to do since they won’t be distracted by their cell phones.