phone home




Yes, this was an actual conversation


Yup, I gave in. Caved. Crumbled like a house of cards.

Go ahead, say it – ‘If all the other moms were jumping off a bridge, would you jump off a bridge too, Jess?”

Apparently, yes. Yes, I would.

I got Katie a phone. Well, I helped Katie get a phone. Since she wanted a fancy, schmancy phone, she paid half. Besides, I always think a little skin in the game is a good thing. Might even give her a better shot of not losing it within the first week.

But before she could have it, there was some business to attend to. A contract to sign.

Nope, not the one with the phone company – Luau took care of that.

A contract with us. And with herself.

We came up with it together. Well, sort of; but ya know, she was there.

It went like this.

Part One ..

And Part Two …

So, yeah, if all the other moms jumped off a bridge, apparently I’d follow.

But I’d have a parachute.


Ed note: The contract was emended from the original to add rule #7, thanks to a brilliant suggestion from a reader. Thank you, Jen!

Ed other note: Two more additions are now in the works thanks to more fabulous suggestions from readers — She will tell us immediately if she receives an inappropriate text / picture etc and she will not allow anyone to else to use her phone. Thank you, ladies!

53 thoughts on “phone home

  1. I jumped off the bridge this weeked too! My 12 year old aspie now has a smartphone. Oy! Here is hoping they are responsible enough for this next level of growing up. 🙂

  2. How old is she now? Two years ago we made a pact with the dance parents that we’d wait until 13 to buy the kids phones. At least three of the six have already caved (the kids are 10 now). I suspect we’ll probably cave when she’s 12, but for now she has an itouch…

    • She’s 11 (and the last of her peers – by a lot -to be getting a phone.). For us, the kicker was middle school, which … gulp … starts next month.

  3. That is AWESOME! I may have to look up this post in about 10 years or so, lol! You handled this perfectly! And I’m a little jealous! My husband still won’t go for Iphones. He thinks they’re bulky, and too expensive. I want one so bad! But, he’s the one who brings home the bacon…so, yeah….no iphone for me! 🙂

  4. Yep, we thought middle school was the right time for it, too.

    Love your rules! We’ve had all of those, but I may have a “reset” with Mr. Now I’m in High School and have him sign the contract. Review is good.

    Only once did he complain about wanting some “privacy,” which I pointed out is something you have when you’re talking to a person face to face, and never something you have on any kind of media. And also something he can feel free to have when he’s 18! : )


  5. We did a contract too and wow it works. And the phone has been a really good teaching tool for bigger things. Happy jumping!

  6. Love the contract idea! I think I am going to make a copy and put it in safe place to pull out when my Mae Mae gets older! Great job!!
    I do have a question. Are there any books that you might suggest for parenting NT child? I realize that everyone has different parenting styles, but I am discovering that with two different base lines in our house that I need to work on NT side. I have gone over and beyond educating myself about parenting and helping my little guy, but with my little gal I am learning that I need to find more resources in parenting her too.
    Again, the contract is wonderful! And I think I saw you do a pike double twist with two and half rotations when you jumped(with no splash of course). I think you deserve the gold medal with this one!

  7. So after disappearing for half an hour, so that we had to call the police to find him, Joey announces,” if I had a phone, I could just text you where I am!” Uh, no. Tempting, but no. You’re ten, dear. Maybe when you’re twelve and are allowed to go on walks alone all over town.

  8. Middle school was the time for us too. The rule about Mom and Dad getting the phone at night is KEY. May I also suggest you get it at homework time?
    Great contract.

  9. I cannot tell you how much I LOVE this! I want to steal this contract. I hope you don’t mind. I have a middle schooler and a teenager. My middle schooler will probably never be able to handle a cell phone given her special needs, but my teenager is entering high school…and well, yeah, anyway, I need a parachute too but an not as brilliant to come up with one!

  10. Love, love ,love this!!! You can design my parachute any time! With a 3rd and 4th grader in the house we are not quite there yet but I am so stealing your idea in a few years!

  11. You are not following. Many don’t realize but times have changed and if your kid is the only one (for real, not in terms of a kid saying “I’m the ONLY one”) they are really left out socially. It can be a great tool in terms of talking to parents. They’ll text you things they would never say directly to you. Some people I know have disabled the camera all together. Not a bad idea. You came up with great rules!

  12. Yes, keep up with the checking. My brother-in-law does it religiously, but only weekly, and had to stop my niece from corresponding with another “14 year old” that cold-texted her number randoming, and that she was now “dating”. You never really know who’s on the other end. She’s a super smart kid, but not incredibly popular, so I think she was attracted to the attention even though she really knew better. “Answering phone calls and texts from people I don’t know” would be in my contract.

  13. I like the rules. I may have to print out a copy. We bought a couple of years with an iPod touch for our 10-year-old NT daughter. Son w/ASD has shown no interest in a phone, but I suspect that will change by middle school,.

  14. I am a firm believer in following the child’s lead and assessing readiness for whatever the responsibility is. Katie has shown time and again that she is responsible and thoughtful (Yeah, I know, she’s still eleven and not perfect. Still…) so…why not! Great contract. Expect it to go viral. Seriously.

  15. oh no! she is going in to middle school???? how did I miss that??? so grown up! a lot of parents I know get their kids their first phones right before middle school.

    You all rock as parents, though. Can I borrow that contract (sans names) to offer to my peeps? It’s brilliant.

    love, love, love you!

    • luau pointed out numerous times throughout the process that -ahem- katie wasn’t the only one who needed to hear these (with particular reference to immediacy and provocative emails 🙂

  16. You are so awesome! Gotta tell you, so smart to do this up front…so impossible to impose rules later. PLUS, kudos on not having it in her room at night. My daughter sleeps – in her bed – with her laptop. She hardly comes out of her room. I HATE the laptop in her bed! The phone too. Ugh. Makes it easy for our teens to exclude us. If her room was more boring, she might come out more.

  17. Katie is awesome. Brooke is awesome. So are you. But one thing just bugs me when reading your posts.(im sorry this is so petty but i love everything else about you and your blog. You are such a great mom and advocate) So…Why do you always refer to yourself as Mama and have Katie call you that (often in every sentence she utters) when you recreate her conversations but from this it seems she refers to you as Mommy. Is mama what you like to be called? How you hear it in your head? Very few kids I know use this form of mother. Perhaps she does usually call you Mama but I was struck here that the one time we see what she actually says, she doesn’t. I don’t know why but the repeated references to Mama just grates on me. My problem I know. By the way. Katie really does seem like the most responsible kid in the world. So u are unlikely have any issue.

    • Wow. I really never put that much thought into it. She vacillates between Mama and Mommy, tending most often toward Mama. When she refers to me to her friends, it’s as ‘my mom’. Cause well, she’s eleven. And since I wrote the contracts (one in her voice since I was giving it to her to sign and one in ours) I think that it’s a lot less telling than your comment would imply.

      • In mild defense of AnniE, I noticed the Hi Mommy (in the text) too. I assumed Mama was an American thing, and it is a bumpy read if you’re not used to it. And it isn’t Diary of a Mama. :). AnniE prefaced will lots of lovin’, so take it for what it was.

        I have not had time to contact my MP in Canada today, but still feel I am welcome to pass my free time on a blog comment.

      • oops, i just realized (thanks to andymommy’s comment) that you were referring to the text she’d sent. please disregard the last line of my reply 🙂

  18. Read the post and loved it. Love the contract in particular. I’d just like to respond to Annie’s response above which left me…puzzled, to say the least. While of course, everyone has a right to their own opinion, I kind of think the content of this post is irrelevant. We face so much on this journey with autism; underfunded programs, lack of access to medical coverage, scarce resources for our adults on the spectrum, deficiencies in research and access to basic human needs, like social opportunities, a place to live and employment…and on and on and on and on and on…well you get the point. Rather than questioning a parent’s way in which she chooses to be addressed by her child, or chooses to WRITE about the way in which she is addressed …that time might be better spent contacting a legislator to talk about all the things our children need to be successful, productive members of our communities. We just have so much to do, and I hate to see precious time spent on things that won’t impact our families. And just so that it can not be construed that I am not practicing what I preach, I’ve spoken to my state legislator today. She knows me pretty well. 🙂

  19. I think this is all fine! Not that you were looking for approval I know but you sounded worried that we would criticize you for this choice (at least I preceived that). Love the contract.

  20. Great contract! I have resisted my middle schooled so far. He isn’t really asking and I know that the ability to text opens up a whole other issue in regards to bullying, etc. Of course not having one can also lead to problems. I figure if he isn’t dying for one then I will hold out as long as possible. Awesome contract!!

  21. OMH Jess I want to talk to you as I just got assigned an article to write about what is the right age to allow your child to get a phone, especially a Smartphone with internet access!!! I love the contract idea and would love to quote you if possible. Send me an email if you are up for it? thanks

  22. This is so great! The only thing you didn’t cover was internet usage- not sure if it’s a smart phone or not, but we had some issues with inappropriate searching (which led to good conversations) and started openly checking search history periodically.

    Something you may want to consider 🙂

    • that’s actually already covered as she had an iTouch before this. ‘thankfully’ she came upon something early on that, while really pretty innocuous, spooked her something fierce. it was a GREAT learning experience – for all of us 🙂

  23. Great idea! I’d also add always answer immediately when mom or dad call or text and never talk or text or anything else while driving.

  24. One more rule we have (due to a bad experience with a kid sending inappropriate texts from Amy’s phone) is that no one else sends texts, makes calls or uses your phone. If it’s an emergency, you can make the call for them. You are ultimately responsible for any messages or calls made from your phone.

    • good lord, there are so many pitfalls that we just don’t think of, no? thank you! this is definitely going to be added! xo

  25. If you need full parental control that records everything kids do on the internet (including Facebook) , and blocks nasty websites, and does linguistic analysis detect dangerous activity –
    such as internet predators or cyber bullys –
    look into McGruff SafeGuard’s Parental Control software:

    You probably remember McGruff “The Crime Dog” – Take A Bite Out of Crime – from your own childhood.

    For FREE iPad/iPhone parental control, check out

    (Jess – We would like to work with you on spreading the word about Internet Safety – contact us at gomcgruff dot com if you are interested)

  26. I absolutely love the contract and I’m going to bookmark it or save it somehow so that I can refer back to it in 5 years. Thanks so much for sharing!

  27. I know I’m late to this party, but based on my daughter’s own experiences, maybe you’d consider adding something to prevent what happened to her?

    1, she’d had early dismissal (from high school, 7 years ago) on a beautiful fall day, so she decided to walk home rather than take the bus. (Public transport.) Some other high school girls (from a different school) saw her using her phone as she was walking, and they started following her. They shoved her up against a brick wall and threatened to take her phone. At that point, a police car drove past so they got nervous and left.

    2, Same high school; there was a rule about not having phones out during class. She exceeded the number of warnings and the principal took her phone until one of her parents went to school to sign for it. BTW — My husband and I thought that the school’s punishment was just.

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