This year marks my 13th year as a mummy, which means my Baby is A Teen now! I thought I should start documenting this parenting journey as I enter this milestone. It’s not about her milestones cos we’ve all lived thru that… I can expect puberty, emotional changes, hormones, BGR, etc etc.. But I wanna write down what parenting a teen is like! What are the hidden potholes round the corner, what are the face-palm don’t do it again moments, and of course what are the successes and nuggets to remember! So here’s starting a new series-My Baby is A Teen (MyBAT) on the blog!
One of the first hallmark of Nicole’s teen-hood was Owning a Mobile Phone! Yes yes… we are very slow… she has told us a couple of times, she’s the last in the entire world to get a phone! You see, during her primary school years, we felt there’s no need for a phone. And looking back now, I stand by our decision, there really was no need for one. Even on days when she needed to travel for tuition classes or staying back in school, she learnt to keep to boundaries we’ve set before we “lose communication”. E.g. be at the bus stop at 3 p.m., and she has to make her way there by 3 p.m. If she was going to be late, she would use the beloved 10 cent coin or her numerous other friends’ phones to contact me.
Of course there were hiccups when we wished she had a phone, so that we had more flexibility. But these don’t warrant a phone.
Anyway, we decided she will get a phone after her PSLE. And she had to sign one of those Mobile Contracts with us to sustain the usage. There are plenty out there online, we adapted from here and there and went through each condition with her. I must say, that some contracts are worded negatively, e.g. I will never download anything without my parents’ permission. We changed it to “Before I join any social media networks, and downloading any app, I will get my parents’ permission.” This is important, because going on the “I will not…” or “I will never…” sounds very negative as every contract condition would start this way!
The contract condition has usual stuff about usage timings, bullying, nudity, and data restrictions. We believe when we put on the table what we expect from her, she would know what she needs to do. It is unfair to her, if we have no rules and we become reactive when things happen. At her age, I cannot expect her to know I don’t want her to whatsapp her friends at 11pm, or it’s not apt to download Tinder.
I’ve a template attached that you can use. For Nicole, we have another clause that we didn’t put in the template. We wanted her to memorise 1 Bible verse every fortnight to keep up her right to keep her phone.
One other monitoring device we use is an app–Qustodio This is a free app for parents…here’s how it works
- Download the app on parent’s phone and child’s phone. (the app cannot be deleted from child’s phone!)
- Decide on usage timings for your child. For Nicole, I set it at 2hrs per day.
- Then we decide when she can use her phone. Nicole cannot use it during school hours and after 9pm on school nights.
That’s it! Whenever Nicole hits her 2hrs mark, or when she wants to use it during blocked hours, the phone apps would be blocked, and she can only make phone calls out.
We love this App, and it works well for us. Of course, we are only less than a month into her mobile usage. I hope to share more after 6 months!
It may be strange I chose to talk about Mobile Phones for this first post on MyBAT. I felt it is necessary cos in our family, it was one of the biggest and most significant milestones. Both Nathan and Nadine are keeping their eyes on the prize too! hahaha!
For those of you who want a template of the contract we use with Nicole, here’s a copy. Please feel free to edit and beauitfy it accordingly! Phone Contract Template