jessanna11 asks: I’m 12 years old turning 13 in a few weeks . Everyone at school has the latest technology, whereas I don’t. I don’t want to sound like a spoilt brat because I’m not, but I just wish they weren’t so stubborn. I have a Nokia phone made in 1999, and it’s really embarrassing because my friends all have iPhone 5s. I begged and begged mum for an iPhone for my birthday (I have never gotten a present before – I just get money, except once I got my cat). I ask why I can’t have one and she says, “to teach you the value of money, so you know that nothing’s going to be handed to you in life.” Money is not the issue, but it just seems so unfair that I’m being brought up this way while other kids get luxuries. I am the eldest in the family, and I feel like my parents are tougher on me; I do have a laptop and iPod touch, but I bought those two things myself from doing work like cleaning, and saved up birthday money. Meanwhile my 7-year-old twin sisters have laptops, and my nine-year-old sister has a Android smartphone and laptop that my parents paid for. I didn’t get treated that way when I was young, so why do they? I’m a perfectly well-behaved child, I do soccer, I’m in the Navy cadets where we learn discipline, I am in extension classes at school for History, English, Maths and Science, and I work after school every night for two hours (earning about $8 every afternoon; I haven’t actually being paid yet but I’m to scared to ask). So how can I convince my stubborn parents to give me something for once in my life, other than the necessities, instead of just trying to teach me a lesson?
Hi jessanna11 –
I feel for you, but I think you’re asking the wrong question. The issue here isn’t why you’re not getting a top-of-the-line phone, which is a super luxury, especially for someone your age. Rather, it’s why you’re being treated unfairly, compared to the other kids at school, and even your own siblings.
I’m saying this to clarify the situation. If your family was deeply impoverished, the idea of you getting a smartphone wouldn’t even come into anyone’s mind, but you’d care a lot about getting treated fairly in terms of food and adequate clothing. Similarly, if your family was wildly wealthy, you might get upset if you found that your sister got stunning rare huge diamond earrings for her birthday, and you only got an iPhone!
You are also at an age where these things matter in a way they never have before. Literally, your brain is developing in a special way right now, where your friends and schoolmates, and how they look at you, are starting to matter more to you than your relationship with your family. This doesn’t make you spoiled; it makes you human. All teens have this. Teens also have something else, which adds to your pain, which is a feeling that what’s humiliating today will last forever. In truth, all those kids with their new iPhones, I promise, are walking around feeling just as nervous and worried and upset as you, but about other reasons that you know nothing about. It’s just the way being a twelve-year-old human is.
So now, onto your question. It’s easier for me to tell you what not to do, than what to do. Here are a few of those:
– Don’t complain to your parents that it’s not fair that you don’t have an iPhone 5. No one else did before a year ago either! So they’re not going to agree with you that it’s a matter of fairness.
– Similarly, don’t begrudge your sisters the technology they have that you didn’t at their age, since the whole technology world is changing so quickly. When Handsome was your age, he was one of the few kids he knew whose home had a typewriter! I understand where you’re coming from, but the argument won’t work.
– It’s great that you’re well-behaved, an athlete, and a great student. Don’t stop!
Okay, but what should you do? I do have one thought.
That fourteen-year-old phone you’re using isn’t very trustworthy. You really should have something more modern, if only so that your parents know you’re reachable and safe. Now you’ve shown great responsibility by earning the money for these other items, right? Well, could you make a deal with your parents, to split the cost of an iPhone with you? That you’d earn half of the price, but ask them to pay the other half? Then (and here’s my tricky idea), while you’re earning the money to buy it, see when the next iPhone is coming out. Once it’s announced, the cost of an iPhone 5 is going to go way down. THAT’S when you pounce and buy it. And if you don’t have the full money to pay half yet, ask if they’ll fund the rest and let you pay them back.
But once you do this, another issue is going to come up. Which is that very soon, those same privileged kids who have iPhone 5s now, will have iPhone 6s. And you’ll feel a step behind them still.
So there’s another bit of work you’ll need to do. And I know it’s very hard at your age (especially at a school like with these sorts of kids there). But it’s to realize how privileged you actually are, and to try to forgive your parents for what they’ve done that’s not perfectly fair.
I have no doubt, if you sat down with your sisters and asked them to list out the ways they think you’re the lucky one, you’ll hear so much your head will spin! “You’re the oldest, you get to do everything first!” “You’re the only one who ever got all the attention!” “You get to play soccer and do cadets!” And even, believe it or not, “You’re the one they’re trying to teach about money, and make all responsible!”
Every day I see dogs whose owners lavish fancy foods and jeweled collars and such on, and other dogs who are neglected and underfed. I can’t compare my life to theirs exactly, or anyone else’s. But what I can do is look over at Handsome and think “I am lucky to be with someone I love this much!” And that will always be true.
But if you want to mention to him that I might love him just that teeny-weenie bit more if he would just buy me a hamburger this afternoon…!!!!!