Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Calling all mommy friends..... Gifts for an 11year-old girl?

When Hope was born I was a 19 year-old single mother in college.  I didn't know anyone else who had a kid or was pregnant.  I mean, there was my mom and her friends and aunts, but NO ONE my age to talk to.  I was vaguely aware of a handful of people who married right out of high school and had babies but they were either married well and living it up in a subdivision or in a trailer park and smoking pot.  I was the only academically-motivated knocked-up gal in my tiny podunk town.  What to do?

Needless to say I didn't have anyone to talk to;  breastfeeding, sleep issues, baby poop, etc... were all topics of conversation that would waken disgusted looks in my college friends.  And of course play dates consisted of a gang of 20 year old college girls watching The Wiggles with Hope and attempting to teach her the phrase "subvert the dominant patriarchy".  Fun, but I still didn't have a mom to commiserate with and watch our children grow-up together.

One of the things I love most about being the mother of a baby/toddler now is that so many of my friends are pregnant or have kidlets of their own.  Yay for mommy-friends!  Now I can bounce around ideas about toddler crafts, groan over teething, and share in the joys of motherhood with someone who understands.  Not only do I have mommy-friends in the "real world", but I also have blogger-mommy-friends and in some cases the real-world and blog mommy-friends overlap (hi, Katie and Jenna!). 

Today and tomorrow I'm going to throw out some mom-questions to all my mommy-friends. Today's question concerns Hope and tomorrow's question concerns Atticus. Of course I appreciate any feedback even if you don't have kids.  Sometimes it is refreshing to get an outside opinion.  On to the question.... okay really it is more of a dilemma than a straight-up question.

The Dilemma:

Hope desperately wants a cell phone for Christmas.  It would be easier for me if she had a cell phone.  I'd have a way of getting in touch with her (and vice-versa) in an age where many of the people I know do not have land-line phones.  Also, she is getting to that age where her friends are calling and since we don't have a land-line phone they call my cell phone.  And then I end up handing my Android phone complete with full-web access for my ADHD daughter to use.  Thank goodness I have insurance on the phone. 

Okay -- so Hope wants a cell phone and I want her to have one... what's the dilemma? 

I'm in a place where I don't want to do the most convenient thing and have it negatively impact the moral lessons I'm trying to teach Hope.  Since hitting sixth grade Hope has become more immature.  My mom has taught middle school for years and she says this is a current behavior trend.  Hope is whiny, she won't do her homework or clean her room, she doesn't take care of the nice things she has (i.e.cds, cd player, ds game system, etc....).  Last night she was literally wallowing on the floor and whining loudly about her chores.  She wasn't this immature at age 8 and I certainly expect more from an 11-year-old.

I want Hope to know that with independence comes responsibility.  I think that kids today have too much freedom and money, but lack the responsibility and consequences that come with having independence.  Yes, I can sleep all day, eat what I want, and blow my money on vintage paperback because I-am-an-adult-and-I-can-do-what-I-want, but I don't do that because I have people who depend on me and bills to pay.  You wouldn't believe the number of mothers who call to complain about their 23-year-old daughter's $9 library fine and offer to pay it straight away.  It is something I handle regularly and I'm dismayed that so many young women can't take care of responsibilities and are perfectly willing to let parents handle everything. I wonder what will happen to these women when they are truly on their own and they learn that they actually have to pay rent and mommy and daddy can't bail them out.

I want Hope to be able to wear makeup, and go to sleepovers, and chose her clothes, and stay up late. But with that freedom and independence should come with responsibility.  She needs to exhibit that she can do her homework, help around the house, and act like a mature young lady.  You can't have it both ways.

If I give her a cell phone I feel like I'd be giving her a huge responsibility and privilege and I don't know if she is ready for that responsibility. 

I'm looking for creative solutions here, or just affirmation that I'm not crazy and I'm on the right-track, or to be told that I need to loosen up.  What would you do?


Andi said...

You are not crazy, but I fear I don't have many suggestions. We got Rocketgirl a cell phone last year and it was a disaster. She'd broken our agreed upon parent/child contract within weeks of having it (phone grounding #1). When she got it back, she broke said contract again. It was a vicious cycle until we took it away from her all together after about 9 months.

I will say, it was REALLY good motivation in some areas. It was something nice to hold over her head that she really wanted and was appropriate punishment to teach her that there are consequences. However, it eventually became too much of a pain in the ass to actually keep doing. She was obviously not ready.

Go with your gut. Give it a trial run even. But I do recommend writing up a contract for Hope to sign. She can never say "Well I didn't know" or "But I just thought..." It certainly made Rocketgirl think about her actions from time to time and cut out a lot of arguing/whining over the consequences of her choices.

Susan in TX said...

If you must get her one, I would recommend the "dumbest" phone you can find. One where she can call you from those places without a land line, and where her friends have a number to call, BUT no data packages or contracts. You wouldn't believe the number of parents I know asking me what to do about their $500/mo. cell phone bills because they have 3 kids/2 adults on data package contracts. Oh, the kids promise to pay their bill, but then they quit their jobs, etc. (!)
I would echo Andi, and say whatever sort of trial thing you can do cheaply, to do that and let her "earn her minutes."
And, just for your encouragement. 11 is a yucky age! My 3rd dd is 12.5 and I thought I was going to tear my hair out going through the pre-puberty years and the "tween-ness." Mercifully, it doesn't last as long as it feels.
Stick by your guns and your instinct. If more moms would say "no" to stuff, it would make all of our jobs easier. :)

cherrytree said...

MY 12 year old went to high school this year and I started back to work. She is the eldest of three and very responsible.

We got a phone for her to use, but she does not own it. It's a family phone. On the weekends, her dad uses it (during the week he uses a compnay phone)and we use it to organise our family life.

If you are not ready to give your daughter her own phone, have her earn the use of a FAMILY phone. FOr my daughter I check her texts from time to time. She doesn't abuse this privelege and we are happy with the way things are going.

You know your daughter better than anyone, and if you don't think she is ready for the responsibilty and reward of the phone, trust that.

Giggly said...

I wish we could have been friends back when we had our daughter's so early. I was 21 and my husband was 19. Yep, we were the only people our age, under the age of 40, who had a kid. It is nice to have other mothers around now, especially with my young son.

Our 11, almost 12 year old daughter wants a cell phone too. Since I am still a SAHM, she really doesn't need one. She uses her friend's phones when she is visiting them and my cell when she wants to talk to them at home. My phone is basic, so I don't worry about roaming online...anyway, we told her that she could have a basic cell phone when I go back to work, but just to use if we need to get a hold of each other, not a casual phone, unless she can keep up all her chores and school work.

Man, did she have a crying fit, "But MOM! All my friends have cell phones!" We explained that we aren't that kind of family that has to have what everyone else has, and we appreciate what we do have. She is starting to get that, it's hard with peer pressure, I know.

I don't think you are crazy for not wanting to get Hope one. You know her best and you will be able to tell when she is ready for one and when you are comfortable with the idea of it. :)

Amanda said...

You ladies are awesome! I love the idea of a "contract" and of getting a very simple and cheap phone. I'll talk to Sam some more. It is so nice to get support. Number one mom tip: always go with yer gut!

AJJ said...

Just promise me every time she calls you at work you will pick up and say, "Natalie? I can't talk to you right now, honey." Then leave the room for 25 minutes.