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Meg Herriot shares how she and her preteen son had "the talk" about why he's too young to have a smartphone.

I’ve been feeling some judgment in my relationships with parenting choices, but I had a moment today of grace. As I was mowing the lawn (I’m grateful now we’ve moved to a place where I can spend some serious time lawn mowing, which is great for personal reflection). I thought, “Well, even with all of our parenting mistakes, at least my husband and I have held the line on holding off on a smartphone for my son.”

I don't intend to sound judgmental of others. I know every family has different factors going into making this decision. Apparently, according to my son, everyone in his class has a smartphone. We, however, know our son. We know ourselves. The temptation of devices in our family is something that is perhaps worse for our family, as we are differently wired.

There is also a certain decision to be made in every family, regarding family culture. Whether it be having a car, getting certain clothes, or a myriad of other things, there’s a point when every family has to figure out what’s best for them and not do something just because everybody else is. In our family, we have determined that it is best for our son not to have personal devices. He complains about this, and likes to tell us how we are mean. 




When I came back in from lawn mowing, I had the conversation with my son. “You know, us not giving you a phone is not so much about us not trusting you—it’s about us protecting you.”

This was perfectly set up by us almost watching a show that was TV-14; seeing that label, my son immediately said, “I can’t watch that—you don’t want me to watch it because it might be inappropriate.” Cue the talk. 

 “Remember that book we had you read- about good pictures and bad pictures?”


“Well, sometimes bad pictures come up on your phone or device, even if you were looking for something totally innocent. It’s happened to me before.”


“Think about how hard it is for you to put a video game down." (Now you have every right to judge me, that we even allow him to play innocent video games—this is where I remember God is the only one with a right to judge, and He knows how we get to the decisions we do. We are just sinners trying to make it to redemption.)

My son thought about it. “Yep.”

“Well, if you see bad pictures, it’s even harder to put them down and it can make it really hard to have a great marriage.”

Silence, but it looked like understanding.

“And you see, we know you try really hard to be a good person, but your brain is not fully developed to make good choices until you are 25. That’s why we cut you some slack when you make mistakes.”

Then my husband chimed in that even 25-year-olds don’t always make good choices, and I think about 80-year-olds who don’t make good choices. Our son redirects our thoughts. “Well, I think the way you raised me I’m going to be making all good choices before I’m 25.” My husband and I glowed with glee; then he continued jokingly, “I mean, the way you don’t let me do anything fun and you don’t play with me and you don’t let me get my way. I mean—your parenting stinks.”

No matter what it is in your family that you are holding the line on, remember: it’s a blessing when your kid thinks your parenting stinks. It may mean you just might be on the right track.  


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No matter what it is in your family that you are holding the line on, remember: it’s a blessing when your kid thinks your parenting stinks. You just might be on the right track.



Copyright 2023 Meg Herriot