When you embark on a new journey as a parent sometimes you can feel really alone. You can talk to your friends about what they’ve done or are going to do but each kid and family are so different it’s hard to find an exact right fit. You can check Pinterest but that gets super overwhelming and fairly annoying if you ask me! So when Chris and I decided it was time to get Bailey a phone we just sort of winged it. I wanted to share the letter I wrote her just in case it helps you when you hit this time in life with your own kids…
Happy 11th Birthday Bails!
Daddy and I love you so much. That’s most important. Always. But second to that is our trust in you. As you’ve grown up you have continually made really good choices. You work hard in school, you are kind to Parker and Grayson, you’ve chosen truly great friends, when you commit to something you see it through to the end (like your science fair project, all of your sports, or even just agreeing to play Barbie’s with PJ) and you tell the truth even when it’s hard. As we’ve watched you mature this year it’s been a true blessing to see you faced with harder decisions and still, mostly, make good choices. We couldn’t be more proud of the kid that you are and the young woman you are becoming.
Trust. It’s such an important word. Especially for parents. When we say that we trust you I want you to really understand what that means. SO – pretend like you’re in the lake, on a raft that’s tied to the dock. At first we set you on that raft and hold the rope tight so you stay close to us on the dock. We’re afraid of letting you get too far away because you can’t swim yet, you’re little and we’re nervous. Then a few years go by and you work hard to learn to swim so we let the rope out just a bit. Now you’re several feet away from the dock but still close enough for us to grab you if something goes wrong. As you grow and get bigger we continue to let the rope out. We want to give you space to explore, to see new things, to try new things, to meet new people and to have a life outside of our little dock. Does that make sense? Trust is that rope. As you get older and make good choices our trust in you strengthens so we let the rope out. One day, when you’re big enough, we will cut the rope and you’ll be out there on your own! That’s going to be an amazing day because it will mean that you made it. You survived childhood and you’re on your way to exciting new adventures as an adult!
Right now you’re 11. We’ve let the rope out a bit but we still hold you pretty close. We tell you when to go to bed, what to eat, when to clean, etc. We’re your parents and our job is to teach you and train you to be a good, honest, kind and hard working adult. One day you will be. For now, you’re tied to us with that rope though. But if we’re being good parents then we are slowly and steadily letting out the rope – extending our trust to you little by little. You’re birthday gift this year is a pretty big jump. We’re suddenly giving you a lot of slack in your rope and we’re trusting that you will do good things with that extra space.
Because here’s the deal with trust – we can yank that rope back really really fast! It’s OUR trust to give to you. If you break that trust – by making bad decisions, being unkind, being dishonest, etc. – then we pull back on that rope.
You are 11 years old and in the sixth grade. We feel that you are ready for your first phone. It’s a big step though. A lot of rope, if you will. We are going to work together to make sure that our trust isn’t broken, that you learn how to use your phone in a positive way and that together we can all enjoy this new freedom.
We love you so much Bailey and we think this is going to be a really fun new adventure!
Love, Mommy and Daddy
She turned 11 while we were in Sanibel last week so that’s GoGo in the photos at our condo (when GoGo starts looking down she’s trying to text Bails!) – it was so much fun to spend her birthday at the beach and such a cool experience to watch all of her family call/text her that day! I had given all of our family members her new cell number a week before so that on her birthday she would get calls and texts! It worked like a charm and she was thrilled!
Also, in case this also helps, here was the other paper we gave her on her birthday…
You didn’t think we’d give you an iPhone and not give you some rules did you?
- No phone at bedtime – it will charge in another room overnight.
- Only Mommy or Daddy can add in a new contact. SO, if Lily gets a phone and you want to add her number to your phone so you can call/text her you have to write her number on paper, bring it home, show it to us and then if we agree that it’s a friend you can communicate with then we will add them to your contacts. You will notice that we’ve already added family and Kate – for now she’s your only friend in your phone.
- When we tell you to put your phone away it goes away. Period. We are NOT going to fight about your phone.
- Sometimes Parker or Gray might need to take it with them – this is up to our discretion and there will be no arguing.
- YOU are responsible for your phone. You may not leave it at a friend’s house, outside, etc. If you have it out of the house you have to be careful.
- For now, no phone at school.
- NO social media of any kind. No Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, etc. Any and all apps added to your phone have to be cleared with us first.
- We have the right to check your phone and read your texts at any time. We are going to work together to help you as you navigate this new form of communication with friends and to do that you are going to have to be completely transparent.
- We can add new rules at any time!
I wanted to come back and add one more thing we’re doing with Bailey and her phone. We know that middle school and high school are going to present her with some uncomfortable situations. Times when she may be in over her head socially, be in a place that she doesn’t like, get into an argument with a friend or be somewhere and just want to come home NOW. So Bails and I picked an emoji and if anything ever happens she can text me this emoji and I will call right away. It gives her an out with her friends without having to tell them why – she can always blame me. She can say to her friends, “Oh man, my mom just called and I have to go home – sorry!” Of course, I hope she will be brave enough to tell her friends when she’s uncomfortable or doesn’t want to do something but I remember what it feels like to be a middle school girl so I wanted to give her an out. A way to get out of a bad situation easily and blame me. Not sure anyone else agrees with this logic – this “safe” emoji idea – but I hope it will allow her to be brutally honest with me and save her if/when she might need saving!