Does Anybody (really) Need a Cell Phone…

Under the Age of Sixteen?

2012 - Just before her dance performance.
2012 – Just before her dance performance.

I was in a quandary this morning about what to get my ten-year old daughter for Christmas.  I had leaned towards a Nintendo 3DS XL

English: A Nintendo 3DS in Aqua Blue, photo ta...
English: A Nintendo 3DS in Aqua Blue, photo taken during the 3DS launch event in NYC. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

but as I am on a tight budget the $199 price tag was a bit much.  I have tried to cut the amount owed and this would only aggravate the problem more.  However, I do realize and I do want to get my daughter something she will be happy with and will use.

I innocently asked Stephanie this morning if she had to choose between a Nintendo or a cell phone which would it be and here is her reply, “Dad I would definitely take the phone because then I could call my friends and also…play games with the phone; it would for sure be the phone.”

“Yeah but then you would be playing games instead of listening to the teacher and doing your schoolwork,” I replied.  “Well, it was only a hypothetical question anyway Steph, I can’t afford that.”

“What does hypothetical mean, Dad?”

“It’s like a thought experiment like, imagine if you became a bird so you could fly around with your pets;  that’s hypothetically speaking.  You finish getting ready for school and I’ll see ya’ downstairs.  I have to make your lunch and breakfast yet,” I said as I began walking down the stairs.  I am glad I asked her that simple question.  I no longer have to wonder I know exactly what to get her now.  By the time Christmas rolls around Stephanie will have forgotten all about the inquiry as it is a week before Thanksgiving now.


Then, I began looking at phones.  On one hand I want to get her a nice one like an iPhone 4s or something similar, but on the other hand, I think about how unorganized she is at this age and how she would probably lose it and then get mad at me for not going out to buy her another one immediately, hmmm… another quandary.

8 thoughts on “Does Anybody (really) Need a Cell Phone…

    1. Thank you, Madelyn, for reminding me to talk with Stephanie about phone etiquette (not that she will listen to me, but thank you) and I will have a sit-down chat with her about those things. Showing no consideration while using the cell phone is very irresponsible and irritating.


      1. Yes it is – but responsibility is something that can be LEARNED as long as it is taught.

        Even brilliant little girls like your daughter can’t be expected to figure out society’s expectations without the love and guidance of brilliant Dads like YOU!

        You are so lucky to have each other.



      2. Wow Madelyn, such kind words – more please, more – just teasing! Hey I hope your Thanksgiving was filling and filled with thanks because we all have something to be thankful for, right? Now I will ask you a question, but don’t feel obligated to answer… “Why do girls try on nearly everything in their closet and then just ball it up as if it were dirty and throw the clothes on the floor or in a chair or on their bed or leave them wherever they may fall?”

        I got so mad at Stephanie this morning and that’s when she told me that, “All girls do that, Dad.”

        “Well you’re not going to,” I told her! I droned on about how I expect her to hang them back up, “They’re not dirty!” Anyway I went on a tirade and told her, “No you know what, you just do whatever you want but it’s going to be your responsibility to take care of yourself! Starting right now – you’re hungry so go downstairs and make your breakfast, well, you get the gist of the situation.

        PS. Stephanie and I have made up.


      3. LOL – your daughter is entering her teen-aged years – hang onto your hat, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

        She’ll come back in time — it sounds like you’ve given her a wonderful foundation — but you probably won’t get to see it much yourself until she’s in her 20’s.

        My friend’s teenagers were horrid to their mothers, who worried about how their darling little girls were turning out – and I always had to remind them that they were always perfectly lovely to me. Many of them have now grown up enough to befriend their parents once more — all that parental agita for nothing!


        Not only is the prefrontal cortex [PFC] still developing until human beings are 19-24 – that part of the brain we need on board for effective decision making and impulse control – but their JOB is to pull away far enough to see clearly who THEY are apart from who they are to parents who can’t help but think of them as the children they WERE.

        The clothes thing?

        As girls we’re insecure for many years, so what we put on our bodies bolsters self-esteem — and we’re PICKY about matching today’s outfit to today’s mood.

        Outfit after parts of outfits get pulled out of closets and drawers as we change clothes over and over again, until we’re satisfied with what we see in the mirror. We pull everything out so we can SEE all of our choices.

        And then we have to fix our hair and “paint our faces” and find our shoes, and change our purses.

        We run out of time, and are overwhelmed by the boring chore of putting everything BACK – so we don’t. Clean clothes end up on the floor or slung over a chair – or stuffed into a hamper – to clear the bed, of course!!

        We get neater as our style takes shape – simply because we don’t have to pull out as much to make a choice.

        Your first instinct was RIGHT ON – but you fix the food and hand over to her the responsibility of doing her own laundry. Close her door and don’t upset yourself by looking (or freak when she reaches the “privacy, Dad!” phase.

        You’ll be amazed at what a difference it will make when it dawns on her (as it did me) that she’s making work for herself. It may take some tears or tantrums when she realizes she “has nothing to wear” – but don’t buy into the drama and it will pass soon enough (or at least more quickly than it will if you fan the flames by making it an issue or stepping in to rescue!)

        And still, it will take some time for her to figure out for herself that hanging things up as soon as she has “rejected” them is really the easiest choice to make – and still more time to develop the HABIT of hanging things up *before* they become a daunting pile of overwhelm.

        If you try to “logic” or “parent” her into neatness, she’ll remain “a slob” for longer.

        Pick your battles. Leave it to the law of natural consequences to teach the lesson. If clothes on the floor and a messy room are the worst things she does as a teen, count yourself a very lucky Dad.

        If you start sweating the small stuff NOW, you’ll fall apart totally once she starts to DATE ::grin::



  1. She is adorable! Lucky you.

    Any possibility of getting her the phone & taking that as an opportunity to do a little coaching with her on what she would do “IF Santa stuck a phone under the tree” to make SURE she doesn’t lose it, “since Daddy probably won’t be able to replace it since money is tight.” It’s never too early to learn the rules of economic reality! (or to think about systems for keeping track of things). I wouldn’t worry about “ruining the surprise” – the hopeful anticipation will more than make up for it.

    It would ALSO be a super opportunity to go over phone etiquette like, “people in the room with you must be first in line for your full attention, no cell phones at the dinner table, homework first, & it doesn’t follow you into the bedroom at night” (most grown-ups could use a bit of a refresher course!)

    Not right after she opens it, of course – that would be a real wet blanket – but you COULD say something like “We need to have a chat about some ground rules, but as long as you don’t make calls that will bankrupt us both, have fun today and we’ll talk about it tomorrow.” — AFTER the initial squeals of delight subside, of course.

    NO – she’s too young to NEED a cell phone, but their world will be very different from the one in which we grew up. My mother fought my Dad to get me my first pair of stockings for my 12th birthday – and man-o-man did THAT pay off! Nothing could have made me feel more grown up. Maybe a cell phone is a right of passage thing for kids today?

    btw – check out the Home Shopping Network – they sometimes have amazing deals – and they’ve already started Black Friday. A used phone might be another possibility – I got by with one for a few years when my phone was stolen (try Amazon).

    Just a few thoughts from the world’s BEST parent (the one with the imaginary kids! 😀 ) I’m sure you’ll come up with the perfect thing for YOUR real-live cutey-pie.

    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMore dot com)
    – ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder –
    “It takes a village to educate a world!”


    1. Dear Madelyn,

      Hi, how are you? You know I’ve been trying to answer you the morning long. However, I am having a terrible day and I don’t know why or what to do about it. I have a full three pages of unfinished letters to you because I write a page then pause to read it and not liking the sound of it, I stop! I try to go back to it in between cooking meals, chauffeuring and doing loads of laundry, but I have been unable to do that. So now, please accept these few sentences. I have to go scrub the kitchen floor now, but thanks and good luck.


      Steve (


      1. I have had days like that! Mine don’t sound quite as bad (chores-wise — although I probably “should” go scrub my kitchen floor!), but sometimes when I have so many things I don’t really want to do (even though I want them done), I sort-of choke.

        Now how’s THAT for a sentence that should be deleted?

        I’m sorry you fretted on MY account, however – and I hope you didn’t think I was trying to tell you how to parent and didn’t know how to say (nicely and “in print”) something like “mind your own business, I was just musing aloud!”

        I think you’re amazing to be willing to “own” your struggles — not everybody has that strength of character, actually, and we ALL struggle with things others seem to be able to do with ease. Sometimes its a mirage and sometimes they actually ARE good at what we’re not, but I’ve learned in decades of coaching that there is something ELSE that *we* can do and they can’t that is their secret horror.

        I do know one thing that might be helpful for times like these: try to remember that it’s an amygdala alarm thing. With the first thing that goes “wrong”, our PFC shuts down a bit with the pressure of getting it “right” and we’re off to the rumination races.

        You did the one thing possible to break the downward spiral – something! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve spiraled ever downward, before I finally allowed myself to do “something” and let it be good enough.

        I put the “soapbox” quote on the right menubar of ADDandSoMuchMore to remind *myself* not to agonize (scroll down for it). It does help – but not a bunch, to tell the truth.

        Black and white thinking is a killer, huh? We over-think, trying to be perfect – even when we KNOW it isn’t really helping and that nothing is ever really “perfect.”

        How am I? O baby, that would take more than three pages of unfinished letters to describe. My sleep disorder is (again!) in a free-running stage and I am awake and asleep at times that make it almost impossible to run my life. (That’s usually when I write the sleep articles, btw – my “something”).

        I need to handle some phone chores while the stores are open, so I’m off. Be well! Thanks for taking the time to respond.


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