Our dear friends have a son who was a handful. He experimented with drugs and alcohol. Upon graduating from high school he gladly announced that he heard if you sign up for YWAM, you can train in Maui. So he signed up.  YWAM, by the way, stands for Youth With A Mission. Once you are done with the six-week training, you are sent to the mission field for 4-5 months. So he happily headed for Maui to work on his tan. Six weeks later, he was in Bangladesh. This was a far cry from surfing and the comforts of home. He learned to deal with the discontent and less-than-perfect situations. He met kids his own age he deeply admires. When he returned home, he got together with his old friends.

He told his mom about his time with his old friends. “I looked around the room, and there were all my friends … texting other people. I thought, ‘So this is what it looks like.'”

She asked, “What what looks like?”

Discontent,” he replied. “There we were, having our own get together, and everyone was looking for a better place to be, a different party.”

We have taken his observations to heart. Tim and I have made what some of our friends call a radical decision; we have decided that our children cannot have or buy their own phone until they are 18. Even then, they will pay for their own services. Every time one of their friends gets a phone, they announce it at the dinner table, as if this will sway our decision. We just tell them our plan is working; if all of their friends have phones, then they’ll never need one. And we will have plenty of dollar bills to cover the cost. This drives them mad. They act put out about it but in a fun way, as if they are happy we care.

Another teenager tries to make a plea for a phone on my children’s behalf: “Well, Miss Heather, suppose a group of us all gets kidnapped. The kidnappers separate us all, and then your kids are left without a phone. Then won’t you feel bad? What are they going to do?”

I said, “Well let me ask you this. In that same scenario, your phone dies. What will you do?”

{Editor’s Note: This post was first published on MomLife Today on August 24, 2010 — interesting that the Hawkins family had this figured out years ago, since current reports repeatedly suggest our kids are becoming overwhelmed and struggling due to phone/technology use.}