With the new school year starting, I want to get a handle on my daughter and her phone addiction. She is 14 years old and on her devise to friends constantly. I am worried that it will interfere with her homework and sleep. I let the rules go lax this summer but we really need a re-set now. How can I go back to stricter rules after being so lenient?
Dear concerned dad,
As parents, we all have had situation where we let the rules go. In your case, it’s about the phone usage, but it could have just as easily been any rule that took a back slide. Maybe we stopped paying attention to the fact that our kids stopped walking the dog as they promised, or no one is putting their plate in the dishwasher after supper anymore.
It’s perfectly fine to do a re-set of the agreements in the family. In fact, as your children grow and mature, the family rules and requirements change, so we should regularly be re-visiting, renewing and updating them.
That is why I am such a big fan of regular family meetings. Our agreements should be thought of solutions that meet the current needs of the situation, not fixed rules carved in stone. When we have regular meetings we show our children that we are open, understanding and willing to be creative in working together with our children to find agreements that work for everyone. It is a fluid and iterative process, to try new ideas, see if they work and tweak them till they do.
So, to apply this to your cell phone situation. Arrange a time to have a “back to school” family meeting and instead of imposing new rules, simply state your concerns as you have posted them to me, and discuss how best your 14 year old can assure they are getting enough sleep and attending to their homework responsibilities and balance that with their phone use. It’s okay to say you haven’t felt comfortable with how things have been going and you want to address the issue anew.
Hope this helps, and happy parenting.