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ASK MERRILY/Teen Telephone Time

Merrily Preston
By Merrily Preston
Posted on Feb 03,2010
Filed Under Personal Development , Opinions,

Photo by flickr/malias/50216300/
Photo by flickr/malias/50216300/

ALEXANDRIA, VA. - My teenage daughter spends too much time on the telephone.  She comes home from high school at 2:30 and wants to do nothing but talk to her friends.  Her grades used to be all A’s but are dropping.  Since I get home from work at 5, I cannot monitor her use of time until then.  I have asked my adult son to be at the house during this time to be sure she is not on the phone.  This normally cooperative child has become very disrespectful to both her father and me.  I want her to do her homework right after school. How can I turn this around?
Dear Turn-around,
You may be relieved to know that your struggles are normal.  Relationships between parents and teens are often a tug of war over telephone time, homework, and many other issues.  It’s a difficult time for parents.  As teens must separate themselves from parents to make the transition to adulthood, friendships are a priority.  High school friendships can last a lifetime.
Parents also have a transition to make.  They must relinquish the familiar role of telling a child what to do and become respectful of changing, adolescent needs.  At the same time they must maintain behavioral boundaries that can withstand relentless testing.
There is actually little time during the school day for students to connect with friends, making telephone time important.  Ask your daughter when she prefers to study and to talk on the telephone.  Some students like to get homework done first while others need to play (or connect) first.  Together devise a plan that works for both of you.  She is more likely to honor a plan that she helped create.
Ask what her intentions are grade-wise.  Parents usually tell their kids what grades are acceptable, but few ask what grades the student actually wants.  Let her describe what she wants to be “when she grows up.”  Ask if she is aware of important tests in her near-future – SAT, college placement, and/or military tests.  If she sees that you are genuinely interested in her answers, she will talk to you, and the possibility will open for an atmosphere of cooperation to be reestablished.
Merrily Preston is an Intentional Life Facilitator, who lives in Woodbridge. Her column is exclusive to Local Kicks. Email questions to, or use online form at

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