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For Teens, Cellphones Are a Privilege -- Not a Right

Annie Lane on

Dear Annie: I am a single mom of four wonderful boys, two of whom are teenagers. I try my best to be good about discipline, and I take away their internet privileges when they don't do what is expected of them or when they stay up too late playing games online or chatting with friends.

My two oldest sons also have phones, which I confiscate when they misbehave. It really seems to be the only thing that gets their attention and motivates them to get their act together. My oldest son, who is 17, bought his phone from someone a few years ago. It does not get service, but he uses Wi-Fi and apps to communicate with his friends.

He also takes the family phone, which does get service, to school with him so he can text with his girlfriend throughout the day. This phone is meant to be left at home at all times.

When I take his phone away, his argument is that he bought that phone himself and I have no right to take it from him. When I take the family phone away from him, his argument is that he needs it in case his boss tries calling him. He works on weekends; his job isn't even open throughout the week after he gets home from school, so that argument has no validity, in my opinion.

I tell him that as long as he is living under my roof, he has to abide by my rules. I tell him there are consequences for his actions, which include losing his internet and phone privileges for a period of time. He tells me I'm trying to control him and keep him from talking to anyone outside of our home. I tell him that's not true; I'm just doing my job as a parent, and not being able to talk to friends is part of his punishment.

Taking away the internet is my best weapon for discipline in my house. My question is, am I in the wrong for taking his phone that he bought himself? -- Mean Mom in Illinois

Dear Mean Mom in Illinois: No, you are not in the wrong for taking away your high schooler's phone and internet privileges, even if he bought it himself. What you are wrong for is signing your letter "Mean Mom." There is nothing mean about disciplining your son; in fact, it is one of the kindest things you can do for a young adult.

Dear Annie: I am in my 60s and totally discombobulated by the losses in my life. I check obituaries before I call someone because so many friends are gone.

 

I really don't know where to go or what to do. Each friend was so valuable to me. I am like a fish out of water trying to pull myself together only to hear that a couple more have passed.

Please write on this topic. -- Loss

Dear Loss: The golden years offer us a choice -- to focus on loss or freedom. It's true that as we age, we encounter more death. But it is also true that many of the demands of our youth and middle age are lessened, which gives us more freedom to do what we like.

Get involved with a group from your church or with a hobby -- where you can interact and take your mind off so many of your friends' early deaths. Make a list every night before you go to sleep of three things that you are grateful for. A positive attitude promotes good health, while dwelling on the negative reinforces feelings of loss and despair.

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"Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book -- featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette -- is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators.com.

 

 

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