DR. WALLACE: I’m 13 and I have an iPhone that my mom and dad got me over a year ago. I love it! It allows me to text all my friends and to keep in touch with others via social media.
But every night before I go to bed, my parents take my phone away from me and put it in their room. In the morning they give it back to me when I finish breakfast and am ready to leave for school.
Sometimes I’m a bit naive, so I thought all parents did this for all their kids. But when I mentioned this to one of my friends, she said she thought that this was the stupidest thing she had ever heard! She went on to say that her mom would never take her phone away from her unless she did something wrong.
Should I ask my parents to let me have my phone 24/7 like my friends do? — Now Feeling Deprived, via email
NOW FEELING DEPRIVED: Smartphones are at times a huge distraction for almost everyone, especially for teenagers who are trying to get a full night’s sleep. Based upon the many letters I receive, it is quite common for parents to take away a child’s phone at night to ensure no distractions will interrupt a good night’s sleep.
Until your friend made that comment to you, you haven’t missed your phone at all when you’ve gone to bed.
I feel you have wise, prudent parents and they are demonstrating their love and care for you by doing this at your age. At 13, you should have a good bedtime routine of brushing your teeth, washing your face and getting prepared for a restful night of sleep. Accessing a cellphone will not benefit you during that time and it could indeed distract you.
WILL OUR PARENTS DIVORCE?
DR. WALLACE: My mom and dad argue a lot, especially when it comes to disciplining us kids. I think they argue almost every day, and it’s getting worse and worse as time goes on. Our parents have been married for over 17 years now and I have an older sister who is in high school.
I really don’t want my parents to get a divorce. Is there anything my sister and I can do? Should we suggest to our parents that they consider going to therapy? One of my best girlfriends has an aunt who is a licensed family counselor. I could put my parents in touch with this lady, but I’m afraid that if my sister and I say anything, we could set off a storm that might even make things worse. What should or shouldn’t we do? — Worried Sisters, via email
WORRIED SISTERS: At times during a marriage, almost all couples will disagree on certain things and may even argue with each other. This doesn’t necessarily mean that all couples who argue will end up getting a divorce, although some do.
As long as your parents’ disputes do not turn violent or escalate in a very troubling way, this can be a learning experience for you and your sister.
Make sure your parents know that you love them both and that the two of you girls will do your best to keep peace in your family. You and your sister should approach your parents and ask them how you can both help them to feel less stressed.
In the end, if your parents do feel the need to go to therapy you could at that time mention the family counselor connection you have. Hopefully your parents would be open to consulting a professional to help them if and when the time comes. You should monitor the family dynamics carefully, but don’t overreact. If you do see any physical or deep psychological violence, then you should indeed contact another trusted adult immediately.
Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.