Adventures of Fatherhood

Adventures of Fatherhood

Seemingly overnight we are uncool to my 10-year-old kid.

I figured this would be the reality in his teen years, but it seems to have happened already. He just doesn’t want much to do with us.

For Easter, since he’s an accomplished shower singer, he was surprised with a waterproof Bluetooth speaker that affixes to the side of the shower wall. When his mom offered to put on some music for him during a recent shower, he was adamant he didn’t want to listen to anything she had on her playlist. When she reminded him she had songs from previous birthday parties and classroom jam sessions, he reminded her he was older now and he didn’t like any of the music we did. She found it hard to believe, but not after he rattled off a group of hip-hop artist names unknown to us. He used the fact we didn’t know any of the artists as evidence we were not on the same music page.

There have been other examples when it seems our kid is clearly flexing some independence muscles. We are okay with that because we want him to be confident and self-assured enough to want to do his own thing. Nonetheless, it doesn’t mean there are not some gut checks along the way for us.

I came home from work one day early this week to play basketball with Beckett. After we both got changed, he informed me there were group of boys he wanted to play with down the street. I told him to go ahead and we could play later because I had plenty of things to do around the house.

A few days later when Pam was with Carson at speech therapy, I asked Beckett if he wanted to go for a jog with me. He has been talking about wanting to run with me for a few years. I told him now was a good opportunity because it was just us. As we were getting ready to walk out the door, a friend of Beckett’s came by. I told his buddy we would be back in 30 minutes, but Beckett said he didn’t want to be rude to his friend. He rationalized that he would probably slow me down anyway. I said we could just go for a walk then. He chose his buddy, but I’m glad he didn’t want to be rude (yes there is some sarcasm here).

As we discussed the nuances of the situation, Carson, 9, pulled up with his mom. He heard what was happening and immediately grabbed my hand with two hands and pulled it into his heart, indicating he would be happy to go for a walk with me.

To that, Beckett said in his most patronizing tone, “Carson, puh-lease.”

When is the right time for a kid to get a phone?

We are currently going on year two of steady requests from Beckett, 10, for a phone. I figure I have at least another year in me of resisting these appeals, but there is no question he is wearing me down.

In fact, I think he may have already worked his magic on Pam, who seems to be seriously considering handing down her current phone to him when she next upgrades.

Years ago, I remember thinking we would get him a phone when he started driving in the case of emergencies. What has changed is many of Beckett’s friends and classmates now have phones, resulting in increased pressure on us to get him one. He says he feels left out not having a phone because his friends do.

Noted parenting book author and psychologist John Rosemond makes interesting points about kids with cell phones. Here are some excerpts from a recent column he wrote.

I am completely, one hundred percent opposed to children, including teenagers still living at home, being in possession of smart phones. …

I recently spent some time with two parents and their teenage child who had a habit of taking out his cell phone and looking at it while conversation was taking place. His parents told him to put the cell phone away at least five times in fifteen minutes. They were obviously exasperated. They are intelligent people but living proof that common sense and intelligence do not go hand-in-hand.

On the positive side, I’ve recently spoken with a handful of parents who have taken their kids’ smart phones away for good. They have all testified to the sort of reaction typical of withdrawal from an addiction: tantrums, even rages, mood swings, and near-manic obsession. It takes two weeks, at least, for the addiction to run its course at which time, according to said parents, their children’s moods greatly improve (“He’s actually begun to seem like a happy kid again!”), they begin engaging in family conversation and family activities, demonstrate renewed sensitivity to other people’s feelings, and seem generally more relaxed. As yet, no parent has reported a downside.

One teenage boy eventually thanked his parents, telling them he felt a whole lot better without a smart phone. Yes, a normal childhood is a wonderful thing. Every child’s right, in fact.

Where’s your common sense these days?

About The Author: Steven Green

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The writer has been with The Dispatch in various capacities since 1995, including serving as editor and publisher since 2004. His previous titles were managing editor, staff writer, sports editor, sales account manager and copy editor. Growing up in Salisbury before moving to Berlin, Green graduated from Worcester Preparatory School in 1993 and graduated from Loyola University Baltimore in 1997 with degrees in Communications (journalism concentration) and Political Science.