Pre-Order So God Made a Mother

My grandma smoked her first cigarette when she was 11. Seriously.

That sounds shocking to us now, of course. It actually kind of makes me giggle, thinking of Mammaw as a little girl lighting one up in the barn and taking a drag, woozy from that first hit of nicotine.

A second more of consideration and the fog of humor lifts as I sober up to the fact that it isn’t just a story, but reality. A child’s lips pressed against the dry paper, naively inhaling a poison so addictive she wouldn’t be able to kick the habit until she was old enough to have grandchildren.

We wonder,

“Didn’t they know how dangerous that was?!”

“What were the adults thinking??”

“I can’t even imagine, giving something so powerfully addictive to a child!”

I got my first cell phone when I was in the 6th grade.

It was a TracFone, one that had to be loaded with minutes. My thumbs quickly became skilled at T9 as I happily chatted away with friends. There was one game—Snake—but the phone was mostly used so I could call my mom and tell her when it was time to come pick me up from cheerleading practice.

As the years went by, technology rapidly shifted, and each new cell phone I received had more capabilities than the one prior. I went from T9 to sliding out a full keyboard to a touch screen, wondering how I ever survived with the previous version.

One of my teachers in high school told us we should never write anything we wouldn’t want to be public information. If we didn’t want that quote with our name alongside it on the front page of the newspaper, then it was better left unsaid.

Did she know screenshots would become a thing?

I shudder at the foolishness I would have said, sent, tweeted, and posted if I had been able to at my daughter’s tender age of nine, and I’m sure I’m not alone.

RELATED: Can We Let Our Tweens Be Kids Just a Little Longer?

Which brings me to the question that burns in my heart and mind so often . . . 

Why is she in the minority of her peers, even friends, as the one without a phone?

And why does it seem like no one is talking about it?

Before I started working at our local elementary school, I figured she was exaggerating about the number of classmates with phones. Turns out, she was probably actually unaware of how many students truly did have access to their own private technology, whether it be smartphones, tablets, smartwatches or the like.

When class dismissed and I journeyed down the hall to leave each day, the Instagram notification tone was deafening.

My best hypothesis is there may be a disconnect for Millennials as parents when we consider buying phones for our children. When we got phones, that’s all they were.

We see that they also have access to fun and even sometimes educational apps, and perhaps remember the innocence of our childhood Gameboys and PlayStations. We played Pokemon, Rock Band, and The Sims to our hearts’ delight, and we turned out fine . . . right?

So why not give our kids a device with which they can quickly contact us AND keep them entertained?

As an adult woman, I struggle with the anxiety and overwhelm that comes along with having a smartphone.

The expectation to always be available, always “on”, always ready to answer a text or reply to a comment. The FOMO that deepens with each scroll, each refresh. The distraction, the lack of true rest.

I am no stranger to the addiction I willingly carry around. And neither are my children. They’ve been on the receiving end of my negative phone behavior, trying to carry on a conversation with their mother only to be met with a half-hearted response as my eyes never meet theirs, fixed on a false reality in my hands.

And I want better for them.

In 50 years, will a woman be standing around in the kitchen telling her friends that her grandma got her first phone when she was only 11, much to the horror of her audience?

“Didn’t they know how dangerous that was?!”

“What were the adults thinking??”

“I can’t even imagine, giving something so powerfully addictive to a child!”

Giving your tween a smartphone is not the same as the phone we had growing up, friend.

That’s why I’m postponing their smartphone debut as long as possible.

I have firsthand experience in the ways my phone has negatively impacted me as a person and I am actively trying to course-correct.

We are the first generation of parents navigating these murky waters. Some parents I know, love, and deeply respect have bought smartphones for their children, and I’m sure they have valid reasons. I don’t share my concerns because I wish to shame or judge them.

The technology isn’t going away. Social media isn’t either.

But I’m afraid the innocence of childhood IS the second we give them personal access to the internet and social media.

So this year, when I see “phone” and “tablet” at the top of the birthday lists (again), I will gladly move on to “Baby Alive” and “Play-Doh” while they’re still there.

You may also like:

It’s Lonely Being the Mom Who Says No

Can We Let Our Tweens Be Kids Just a While Longer?

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available for pre-order now!

Pre-Order Now

Morgan Massey

A former teen mom & recovering perfectionist, Morgan writes to give unexpected hope to other women drowning in anxiety, depression, motherhood, or  She lives in Indiana with her family.  

Supporting Your Teen through Freshman Year

In: Motherhood, Teen, Tween
Mom and teen boy

Growing up I remember seeing Ms. Honey in the movie Matilda and thinking teaching must be a magical job if Ms. Honey could do it so effortlessly. This image of dancing with my students, heart-to-heart conversations, and the perfectly curated teacher outfit always stuck in my mind. When I decided to become a teacher, my original goal was to teach elementary. I wanted to be that driving force that helped those pudgy little hands learn how to write, sing at the top of their lungs about the seasons, and be there to help with scraped knees. Over the years I...

Keep Reading

Our College Visit Disaster: What You Should Learn from My Mistakes

In: Grown Children, Motherhood, Teen
Mom and teen daughter selfie, color photo

With a song in my heart, I got in the car to drive my daughter to our first college visit.  We drove two hours to a school nestled in the mountains. It was a state school, not too big, not too small.  She knew plenty of alumni from her high school who attended there, and I was convinced it was going to be the perfect fit. We pulled up to the student center, and I jumped out of the car. I glanced around for her and realized she was still sitting in the car.  “Mom, I’m not getting out. I ...

Keep Reading

I’ll Send You off with a Million Prayers

In: Grown Children, Motherhood, Teen
Teen walking down sidewalk with suitcase, color photo

I think one of the hardest things about launching your big kids is wondering what baggage they will take with them. Did I give them enough for what comes next? Enough guidance? Enough wisdom Enough confidence and encouragement? Or will they end up carrying the weight of all of my mistakes? My exhaustion? My insecurities? My misplaced fears? What will they hold on to and what will they toss aside as they make room for new experiences, new people, new dreams? RELATED: My Mama Heart Breaks a Little Every Time You Go What lessons will they remember? What moments will...

Keep Reading

To the Mom of the Rebellious Teen

In: Motherhood, Teen, Tween
Teen in hoodie against black and white background

There is a pain that hides behind the eyes of the mom of a rebellious teen. A weariness from worry. She might be distant or seem aloof—it’s because she’s exhausted from the work of grieving what she imagined this season of motherhood would be. If you are the mom of a rebellious teen, I see you. I see how much you ache for restoration in your relationship with your child. I know how many nights you have lain awake, staring at the ceiling, wrestling with guilt that somehow along the way you might have messed up.  I understand the heaviness...

Keep Reading

You’ll Never Know Just How Much I Love You

In: Motherhood, Teen
Mother and son in movie theater, color photo

My firstborn son is a senior in high school this year. I don’t even know how I feel about that. Wasn’t he just a baby looking up at me with big brown eyes as if to say “I need you” with every blink? I admit that I am not handling this season well.  The harsh reality of the situation is my son is no longer a child. He is 18 years old and in most places, that means he is a legal adult. What??!! We moms know this day is inevitable, yet it still caught me by surprise with its...

Keep Reading

“Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret” Is Coming To the Big Screen

In: Living, Teen, Tween
Are You There God It's Me Margaret still Rachel McAdams Abby Ryder Fortson

Millions of tween and teenage girls have read Judy Blume’s coming-of-age classic, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret since it was published in 1970.  And now, all those girls who’ve come of age themselves can take their own daughters and nieces and friends to the movie version of the bestselling novel.  Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret—the movie!— will hit theaters April 28th, as confirmed by the author on Facebook:  Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret follows 11-year-old Margaret Simon (Abby Ryder Forston) as she moves with her family from New York City to the suburbs of...

Keep Reading

Hug Them Anyway: 6 Tips For Connecting with Your Teens

In: Motherhood, Teen
Mother and three teen daughters, color photo

The following six ways to nurture relationships with your teens are a good reminder to me and hopefully you. We can know the principles but living them out in the day-to-day can be hard! I currently have—count ’em—FIVE teenagers living in my house, in addition to another adult and three young boys. It. Is. A. Party. For those of you raising teens, you know it’s a very different ballgame. One difficulty has been identifying where the transition takes place between parenting younger children and beginning the process of letting them grow in independence as I become more of a voice...

Keep Reading

What I’m About to Experience Is the Nightmare of Every Parent of a Teenager

In: Faith, Motherhood, Teen
Traffic signal on a rainy night, color photo

I received the call at 8 p.m. My 16-year-old son’s name flashed across the screen. What I am about to experience is the nightmare of every parent of a teenager—I didn’t know if my son was alive or not. The voice on the other end of the call was not my son’s, and for a moment, I had no idea whose it was. “Who is this?” I asked as panic was beginning to grab a hold of my throat. “Mrs. Moore! Mrs. Moore! There has been an accident . . . oh my God . . . Mrs. Moore ....

Keep Reading

The Gentle Ache of Watching These Years Fall Away

In: Motherhood, Teen, Tween
Teen boy in stocking cap

My son got a haircut today, and when he got up from the stylist’s chair I almost cried. The stylist had cut his curl. This is ridiculous, I know. My son is 14. This obviously wasn’t his first haircut. It wasn’t even a haircut to mark a special occasion. It was just a normal appointment on an ordinary Wednesday. And yet there I sat, swallowing tears as that boy who once fit on my lap walked toward me without that curl reminiscent of his younger years. RELATED: The Stage That Sneaks Up on Mamas Raising Little Boys In 14 years...

Keep Reading

Divorce Improved My Relationship With My Teens

In: Kids, Marriage, Motherhood, Teen
Teen son hugging mother

I’m in the car, utterly exhausted, back aching. My 17-year-old son is in the passenger seat, his attention glued, as always, to his phone. It vibrates with an incoming message from Snapchat. He turns to me. “(Girlfriend) wants to know if I can come over when we get back.” “Of course,” I say. Then I chuckle wearily. “Actually, tell her I said no. Tell her I only have you for one more night, and I need more mother-son bonding time.” He laughs too. We are on Highway 101, making our way home after a Southern California college tour, during which...

Keep Reading