double standard?

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-09-2009
double standard?
Sun, 10-07-2012 - 9:29pm
So here I am again looking for a little perspective...

DH and I disagree about getting my DS15 a cell phone for Christmas. Off and on DS has problems behaving/following the rules both at home and school. In general, he is a good kid who wants to grow up too fast and has a temper that gets the best of him at times. He gets good grades and appears to be well liked by peers and adults for the most part. But every few months we have a major "row" about respect for the rules and authority. DH (and I, initially) feels "extras" are earned and that due to recent problem at school, we should not get him the phone. After thinking about it, I feel if kids have to earn everything....they'd have nothing (lol). Add to that SKs all have latest technology that their BM either bought/gave or that she and my DH allowed them to buy with savings. DH says we can't help what their mom does as they live there 50% of time and my DS will just have to understand that. However, one of SKs is always in trouble about grades, fibbing, forgery, and petty theft at home ...but in general a good kid...and still gets to bring his technology to our home. I think this is a double standard. If we are saying they have to earn things in our home, then that should include nonessentials from BMs home. And...does earning extras mean only socks and underwear for Xmas if you've been naughty?
iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Sun, 10-07-2012 - 9:40pm

I have to agree w/ your DH on one thing--just because his ex buys their kids something doesn't automatically mean that he & you have to get your DS the same thing--you just can't compare 2 diff. households and I think it's better not to.  I also don't think that you can tell them that they can't bring their stuff to your house.  Did he actually pay for his kids cell phones and would he be paying (or contributing) to your DS' cell phone if he had one?  I'd say if he's not paying, then it's not really up to him either--it's your decision.  I also disagree that if kids had to earn everything they would have nothing--surely you would buy them their essentials of food, clothes, books & school supplies, etc--they aren't really entitled to demand every technology thing.  Surely kids in poor families are able to live w/o a cell phone.

Now with all that being said, I think you & DH need to discuss (outside of DS' hearing) what each of you think about cell phones.  My feeling was that as the kids got older, it was also helpful to me to be able to be in contact with them.  At first I thought I'd wait til 16 & driving, but even before that my DD actually needed one--she's go on the bus to away track meets and we wouldn't know when she would be getting home so it was convenient if she'd call me on the way home to say when to pick her up.  Or there was no calling around to friends' houses--if you have to reach your kid, they can always be reached. 

I do think you have to set up rules.  When we got cell phones for DD & DSD my ex reiterated to them that they then had a certain no. of minutes to share (but nights and weekends were unlimited) and if they went over the minutes & didn't have money to pay, he'd take the phone--of course when it came to his own DD, he didn't apply the rule, but that's another story.  Since my DSD cost us tons of extra money on the phone, you need to figure out what the rules will be before you get him a phone--will you get a prepaid one so he can't possibly go over the minutes?  Will you have texting (I think I wouldn't if he is just trying out a phone)?  Will he be able to take it to school--are there rules that he can't use it in school?  (I actually read that in NYC they have these trucks that store kids' cell phones cause they aren't allowed in school, yet every kid has one--isn't that crazy?)  And I would make him turn in the phone to you when he is supposed to go to bed--too many kids are on their phones late at night on school nights.

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-20-2002
Mon, 10-08-2012 - 10:26am
Hmmm Honnee...that is a difficult one for me to weigh in on, because "phones" are so much more than just "phones" today, KWIM? (I'm guessing DS would want smart phone, so it's not just buy him so many minutes/month. Kids dont even TALK on phones anymore---it's all about texting/facebook, dont even know what else!!)

I DO agree that he is YOUR child, so ultimate decision needs to be YOURS. I also would look to xmas as venue to "give" the gift. Not sure what type of plan you have, biggest issue I see with adding a partner line/smart phone is the "real" cost is the monthly data plan you're committed to, ...and I dont think you can turn it off, can you? Is there I way that if he didnt behave, you could have a time period (week, or whatever) that you went online to your account and deactivated his data capacity or something? (I'm pretty sure you'd still have to pay for it). I supppose you could also just physically take the phone away, also.

You could add up the annual cost of a smart phone---monthly data plus cost of phone (would he be happy with a "free" model? you still have probably $200/plus yearly data costs)----then present it to him that you will get him that for xmas if he comes up with $_____ portion of the costs prior to xmas......................??

I (personally) dont think a Xmas gift should be withheld as punishment----you certainly need not go overboard, but I think the IDEA behind xmas gifts to kids should be your unconditional love for them (which is essentially equal and unwavering)---------------what you *dont* like, at times, their BEHAVIOURS-----and these poor BEHAVIORS are handled via other consequences (eg, taking the phone priviledges away for a week or something).

Keep us updated!
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-09-2009
Mon, 10-08-2012 - 11:12am
Thanks ladies. I appreciate your viewpoints.

I was sort of kidding about them never earning anything. Just that they are kids and frequently make mistakes...probably why they have parents, huh? I was referring to extras...not essentials like food, clothing, and shelter.

While we can't and never have tried to control what BM does for SKs, I still feel DH should not have BM's household rules and such foisted upon him. If the rule in our home is no computer/tablet/cell phone for children, then SKs should not bring one to our home. They are here 50%, not just visitors. Why would my son have to follow the rules just because he lives here a higher % of time? If my son's BD buys the phone (or anything else) are we obligated to allow it because we can't control what BD does? KWIM?

Also, all the kids share a basic phone now but I do want him to have a smart phone. We have and would continue to have parental controls through our carrier so that we can limit minutes, texts, internet, and even the time of day it will work. We have found by limiting texts, he does actually use the phone We are on an old plan and switching to new plan would allow us to add a smart phone for a few dollars a month with same coverage. I would want to keep the cost of the phone within the budget we already set per child for Xmas.

I do want to use Christmas as a chance to give...not a punishment. I am Willing to suspend service on his phone if needed for discipline even if we still pay for it.

DH and I did talk privately. I think he needs time to think and digest my views. I will talk to him again in a few weeks.
Community Leader
Registered: 08-25-2006
Mon, 10-08-2012 - 1:10pm

First!  Just because another parent buys a child some techno device, does NOT mean we have to allow it in our home if it is not allowed for the other children.  Can't control purchases, but we still have house rules that apply to all of the kids in the same age range.

My DD showed up with a cell phone after a weekend at her dads in 5th grade and I was p*ssed!  No conversation.  I called him and made him be the bad guy and come pick it up.  She could use it at his house, but not at mine.  Over time that has changed, but she still does not have a smart phone (she is 12 and in 7th grade).  Honestly, her phone is so boring that it isn't much of an issue and she keeps it in her backpack most of the time.  :smileyvery-happy:

Cell phones are a tough call.  My older kids didn't get them until they were driving, but these days waiting is getting harder and harder.  We have a land line, so DD12 phone is mostly for if she gets in a spot when she is not with a parent.

So, I think 15 is plenty old enough to get a phone. 

What kind or the plan is a different question.  And who pays for what is another question.  My big kids started driving and working at 16 and had to pay for their part.  Plans were different back then.  No family plan, kids plans, or anything like that.  You were charged for a text, etc. etc. 

I will end with this:  my SO went back and forth on this with his DS.  Remember, this is the DS that stole from us, his mother, etc. etc.   Although taking the phone was done at times, in all honesty, these days it is a pain.  We have gotten so used to being able to communicate with a cell that it was a pain when he didn't have it.  Then they want to get a number off of it so they can use the house phone, etc. etc.  Plus, teen age boys aren't very good about taking care of them.  I can't tell you how many phones that boy has gone through. 

Enough out of me.  Talk some more with DH and I am sure you can find a solution that works for both of you.  Just remember the parameters need to be similar at his house if his kids are also teenagers. 

Keep us posted!



iVillage Member
Registered: 04-09-2009
Mon, 10-08-2012 - 5:56pm
Agreed Serenity! Our kids are stair stepped with mine the oldest. Blending kids is very hard when they are this close. I have found myself waiting to decide things for mine to see what they do with theirs or because I don't know who will pay for what with his kids and we can't afford it for all ....and stuff like that. I'm tired of that and am trying to be fair to DS (as I am sole custody parent and can't rely on ex for Amy extras) without cheating sks either.