I have a love-hate relationship with my teenage son’s cellphone usage, as I am sure most parents do. Teenagers and their cell phones can be a dangerous combination. Many studies have proven their prized devices can be addictive. The constant need to connect is very tempting, and watching our kids tune out of their real life to tune into a game, Instagram or Snapchat post is beyond frustrating.
Parents have to watch their kids like a hawk and make sure they aren’t crossing a line. Let’s face it, it can be very easy for young adults to hide behind a screen and do something they normally would not do, or forget their responsibilities because their face is always in a phone.
I know I am not alone in trying to find the right balance for my kids and screen time. Yet on the plus side, it is so convenient when I need to get ahold of him while he is at a friend’s house, an after school event, if I am running late, or he is home alone. Sometimes I don’t know how my parents went without cell phones, but they certainly managed.
As my teenager gets older, I have been thankful for cell phones for a different reason other than peace of mind and safety: My son and I are able to communicate through text messages and he is able to elaborate a bit more through a text than in person. He is a quiet teenage boy, who doesn’t talk a lot about his feelings, it is hard for him to find the right words or understand the reason behind his emotions.
I know when we disagree or have an argument, he needs space from me. I know it probably hurts me more than it hurts him, and while I am stewing about it, he probably is not. I have felt so much better about quite a few incidents we have had because I am able to text him and tell him I love him, and remind him I am always here without bugging him like it would if I were to confront him face to face. I still do that quite often, our texting has not replaced our communication, it has just enhanced it and I don’t feel guilty about it, not even for a second.
I know when I send him a text if he is upset with me, he is able to hear it and respond in a way that puts my mind at ease a lot more than his usual shoulder shrug and grunt would. No one likes to talk to someone they are upset with before they are ready, and our kids are no exception. There have been times I have sent him a quick message of love, or simple note just to check in and he doesn’t respond but I know he sees it and gets the message I am thinking about him and his feelings. I don’t care (that much) if he ignores me, it makes me feel better knowing some of the tension will be broken when he has to face his very unfair, bossy mother again.
And it is really fun to send him a text instead of telling him to clean his room or he won’t have his usual ride to the game or dance, and I don’t have to listen to him argue with me about it. I can certainly ignore a text too.
Katie Bingham-Smith lives in Maine with her husband and three kids. She is a Staff Writer at Scary Mommy, shoe addict and pays her kids to rub her feet. You can see more of her on Facebook and Instagram .