· · · · · ·

I Took Away My Teen’s Phone And Here’s What Happened

Parenting teens has always had its share of challenges, but living in the present social media era, new problems arise for Generation X parents. Having to maneuver the complexities that come with this digital age is certainly no easy feat. Often, navigating through our children’s teenage years can feel like walking through a dense fog; the path forward can seem hazy and unclear.

When my children were younger, coming up with solutions to their problems seemed so much easier. However, as they entered their teenage years, it has become much more complicated to try to help them. My attempts to ‘fix’ problems end up doing more harm than good. 

Recently, I observed some unhealthy habits and patterns that have been emerging with my teenage daughter as she engages in the ‘social media abyss.’ I noticed an increase in her anxiety, a disconnection with people around her, and an exorbitant amount of time being spent on her phone. In an attempt to protect her from some of these unhealthy patterns, I have resorted to doing what many parents have done – going through her social media accounts, which eventually led me to a big decision: I took away my teen’s phone. By limiting her interactions on social media, I had hoped that things would eventually improve and I would succeed at making life simpler for both of us. I thought that I would have the ‘child’ that I so desperately wanted to have back when I took away my teen’s phone. I didn’t want to face the fact that my daughter was on her way to becoming an adult. 

However, as I look back and reflect on my decision, I see that this was not the wisest route for me to take because, essentially, I had taken away her ‘social network’ – her connection to the world that has become so much a part of her life that it cannot be taken away. Instead of succeeding at becoming more connected to the people around her and decreasing her anxiety, I have only succeeded at heightening her level of anxiety by isolating her from her friends and creating barriers between us. 

As I reflect on how my intervention failed, I have come to terms with many truths about myself and my parenting style. So often, my desire to control the circumstances around me stems from my fear of the unknown. I fear the ‘what ifs’ of life, and usually, I imagine the worst-case scenarios. This is certainly neither healthy nor realistic because, in reality, none of us know what will happen next. Stepping back and assessing my parenting choices has made me realize that the real problem is not how my daughter uses technology, but rather, the deeper problem is my need for control.

I am slowly coming to terms with the fact that I need to learn to let go. I have to face the fact that my daughter is no longer the child that I so desperately long for her to be. She is on the path to becoming an adult, so when I try to control her circumstances, I hinder her growth toward maturity. Instead, I have to let her make her own mistakes, just as I did when I was her age. Sheltering her from everything that could ‘shake her world’ only makes things worse.  

I now understand that the best step I can take – the thing that my daughter needs the most – is expressing my unconditional love for her and accepting her for who she is instead of forcing her to be who I want her to be. Letting go of expectations can be difficult, but focusing on her needs instead of my expectations has already made a huge difference in our relationship.  

I decided to give her back her cell phone – in a sense, giving her back her freedom, and what has occurred as a result has been astounding. She is spending more time with me and being more open about her life. She is happier and less anxious. It’s truly been amazing. 

So, in the end, I have to admit, this is a hard lesson for me because, as a mom, all I want to do is protect my children, but it’s also a lesson that brings me to a place of freedom. When fear dominates my life, I miss out on life’s best for me and my family, which is certainly not the kind of life I want to live. This has been a lesson I desperately needed to learn. Letting go of fear and embracing what I cannot change instead of trying to control it is a path forward toward a healthier me.  What started as my attempts to protect my daughter has become a journey of self-discovery. 

Although I don’t have control over what may occur in the future, I can control how well I love my children. Providing a safe place for my children, where they feel comfortable coming to me when they struggle to find answers, is most important. So, instead of approaching the teenage years with fear and attempting to control my teen, I’m learning to let go of my fears and embrace who she is growing up to be.

Similar Posts