It happened again.

I had one of my parenting philosophies challenged and changed, and by my kid no less.

I was commited and outspoken about not letting my tween have access to handheld technology.

She's a sensitive and tender-hearted kid, and that world can be harsh. I wanted to protect her from it as long as I could. 

So we set the rule: no phone, no texts, no social media.

There was nothing that would change my mind, and she didn't really ask anyway. 

Then she went away to summer school for a month, and I needed her to have a she needed a phone.

Okay, phone calls only. No texts, no social media. 

But as it turns out, kids talk to each other with Instagram. It's the new pen pal letter, and she desperately wanted to stay in touch with the friends she met. 

So we installed the app and we talked and talked and talked. She made some mistakes, and posted some things we weren't comfortable with, but she listened. She corrected herself. She wanted to do better. 

Then we talked about texts.

We discussed the impact words can have and how hard it is to take them back.

But her schedule made it hard for her to call, so we started with just me and her dad. 

And something amazing happened. 

Even though she is close to both of us, and we spend a lot of time together, she was more open with this form of communication than either of us expected.

Away from home for the first time, we saw (and read) a growing maturity.

And I realized she's been watching us communicate this way for the past several years and finally felt like she had stepped into our world. No siblings, no interruptions, no distractions, no face-to-face awkwardness.

She sent us photos with witty one-liners.

She asked us questions that surprised us.

She unabashedly professed her love.  

I can go back and read it again.

I can keep it.

And I want to.

When the summer came to an end and our earlier agreement (to go back to being device-free for the school year) was staring us down, we had a decision to make. The phone she used over the summer was at the end of its short-term contract. 

With the return of school work and and extracurricular activites, we settled on letting her check in with her local and long-distance friends by using my phone a few times a week.

I learned a lot about our ability to communicate in new ways, but I still prefer the sweet simplicity of sitting across from her at the kitchen table. 

I think we're going to hang out here and enjoy this for awhile longer.







Elan Morgan

Elan Morgan is a writer and web designer who works through Elan.Works and is a designer and content editor at GenderAvenger. They have been seen in the Globe & Mail, Best Health, Woman's Day, and Flow magazines and at TEDxRegina and on CBC News and Radio. They believe in and work to grow both personal and professional quality, genuine community, and meaningful content online.