The Great Cell Phone Controversy

It was when my oldest showed me his new cell phone with some pride earlier this year that I discovered he had gotten a cell phone through his mother's machinations.  I had been opposed to this and still am.  When she had mentioned that he needed a cell phone as a 7th grader, I stated as my position that he had no reason to have one at this stage in his life and by "this stage in his life," I did mean until he was gainfully employed and living on his own.  She countered with, "All of his friends have one," to which I said, "So," a game changing response in any debate.  When she mentioned that he may need to call one of us, when out with his friends, I said he could use one of his friends' phones, since they all have one.

Despite of or in spite of my opposition, with her father's help, she got my oldest a cell phone this year.  And not just a cell phone.  She got him a smart phone with apps that I have no idea how to use.  He and I had a very constructive conversation afterwards and now have an understanding: He understands that I don't.

Recently, I asked him to unlock his phone and hand it to me.  He got very nervous, but complied.  I looked at the apps he had and the texting between him and his friends.  Nothing unusual.  I learned that his friends are very intelligent and that they have very witty conversations.  I handed his phone back to him without comment.  "Why did you want to look at my phone?"

"I am your father and I have the responsibility of overseeing every aspect of your life to ensure that you grow up as a strong, faithful Catholic and as an intelligent and productive member of society.  Seeing what you're doing on your phone is part of my responsibility."

"But I pay for it."

"You may, but who pays for it in no way diminishes or voids my responsibility towards you as my son.  Do you understand?"


He didn't seem very happy with the Gestapo tactics I had employed and, honestly, I felt that there had to be a positive way to manage this situation and balance the occasional confiscation and inspection of his phone.  One night, while reading through Proverbs, I read, "Train up a child in the way that he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6), and then it hit me.

From that time on, every night now before I go to sleep, I send my oldest two text messages.  The first is a verse from the New Testament and the second is a verse from Proverbs.  Every morning, before he goes to school, he reads those text messages.  Such a very simple way to be together with my son every day in God's Word and to do my part to keep him in mind of his responsibilities to God and to himself, when using his phone.


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