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When I was a kid, my sister and I had a chore list posted in our kitchen. It would have a column for chores, one for price, and one for initials.

The way it worked was that one of us would walk up and, for example, find the line that said “Vacuum living room….$1” and we’d initial and date beside it where we had done it.

We were allowed to pick and choose what we did, with the only caveat being that every chore on the list had to be done each week or else my parents would start assigning them.

So, if I (or my sister) wanted to do every single thing on the list - or none of them - we could do so, as long as we’d worked it out with the other one.

In that way, we earned some spending money, learned the value OF that money, and had our first taste of working under a contract.

Now, more decades later than she or I would want to admit, parental contracts with kids have apparently taken on a new form.

The question isn’t whether or not my parents (no way, no how) or I (now that I’m a parent; also, no way… for now) would have ever allowed one of us to have a phone as a child, the question is the changing nature of the parent-child relationship.

Janell Burley Hofman, to the delight of parents and the angst of teens everywhere, decided to get her 13-year-old son an iPhone for Christmas.

Whereas most of us are tied into contracts with less-than-personable phone companies, Gregory, her son, is tied into an unbreakable one with his mom.

Among other things, she sets the non-negotiable use of the phone, but does so in a way that is more about promoting responsibility than just being an overseer.

Her blog on the contract has become an Internet sensation, prompting a number of people to ponder the ins and outs of the deal, as well as debate topics ranging from whether a 13-year-old needs an iPhone to the nature of parent-child relationships in the 21st century.

So, to put not so fine a point on it, what are your thoughts?

  1. knoxnews posted this