Phone Hex

18 Mar

Letterbalm No Phone CallsDear LetterBalm: We’ve been very careful to instruct our kids about phone etiquette and proper use of their cellphones. We also have house rules about phone calls, and my husband and I are pretty vigilant about enforcing them. One of our rules is that the kids aren’t allowed on the phone after 9 p.m., especially on school nights. But my daughter, age 12, keeps getting calls from one boy in her class as late as midnight. How can we make him stop without making a big deal out of it?

–Phone-Savvy Mom

There are a couple of things in play here. Ms. L.B. says you and your wife can nip this problem in the bud by inaugurating a very smart rule that your children must relinquish their cellphones when they go to bed. When your daughter’s classmate calls, put on your best parent voice – gruff, not threatening – and make it clear he can’t call after 9 p.m. If he’s using your landline, stay close to the phone, and when he calls, apply the same technique. If he continues, a private word with his parents is in order. Meanwhile, reinforce phone etiquette with a brief reminder to your daughter thusly:

Serena, just a word about Larry’s late-night phone calls. You know they aren’t allowed because he usually calls after 9 p.m. Your father and I want you to understand that we’re not being mean or unfair, and we don’t think that Larry is a bad person. But school-night phone calls cut into homework, family and personal time, not to mention that you have to go to sleep. We’re insisting that you and your brother and sister surrender your cellphones before you go to bed, and we think this is a good idea. Your father and I will take care of answering any late-night calls Larry makes.


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