I Bought My Daughter A Cell Phone – Soo Kwan Lee

On Labor Day, I went to the mall and bought my daughter – who just started high school – a cell phone. This was not an easy decision to make; I had been pondering it for quite some time. My daughter had asked for a cell phone a few years back, but at that time I told her no because I firmly believed that having personal belongings before coming of age and understanding the responsibilities involved would instill a faulty concept of material goods. She seemed to be hoping for a cell phone this year, but I again told her no because she got a digital camera as a birthday gift from one of my house church members.

When I was in middle school, I saved money for a year to buy a bicycle (30,000 Won), and I remember being very fond of it and taking very good care of it. I tend to disapprove when children today easily acquire valuables like a camera, mishandle it and break it, and then buy another one without a second thought.

A few days ago, my wife carefully approached me and asked if we could go ahead and buy our daughter a cell phone. She explained that now, more than ever before, our daughter’s extracurricular activities demand frequent changes in schedules where she necessarily needs to call home. She also said that it seems that our daughter has been borrowing her friends’ phones to call, telling them “My phone is low on batteries” and that it’s about time we got her a phone.

I’ve been thinking and have come to realize that I’ve been raising my daughter under a strict set of rules such as, “You will not go to church in shorts and flip-flops”, “You will not put on makeup or pierce your ears until you go to college”, “You will not IM because it’s addictive”, etc. Fortunately, my daughter has obeyed without being very discontent. Once, I gave her a small notebook and gave her the assignment of writing down the times she spent on the Internet doing things other than homework. She did this quite responsibly and appeared to be learning self-discipline.

According to some educational specialists, it is important for parents to focus on children getting accustomed to parental control and supervision when they are young, but then shift control little by little as they get older so that they acquire the necessary abilities of self-control. Also, I once heard that children may experience hardship among their peers when their parents insist on rearing them excessively in Korean ways in the U.S. So I decided that it’s about time I slowly relinquished control and bought her a cell phone.

The store gave us a good deal. We just added a line to the account my wife uses. As for the phone, the mail-in rebate means we get the latest model for free. So I hope you don’t disapprove when you see my daughter, a PK, with a new phone. She’s been grinning from ear to ear for several days, and I’ve been pleased to see her so happy. I guess this also echoes our Father’s heart, who is happy when we are happy.

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