Columnists > Voices

Family calling plan

Here's a cell phone contract that's worth considering

Issue: "Street theater," Sept. 30, 2006

Suppose you're the most innovative person in the world, and you wanted to invent the most contradictory device that mankind had ever devised. Could you really do better than a cell phone?

It makes you both more social and less social-at the very same time. It brings you into the loop, and it isolates you. It keeps you safe, and it puts you at risk. It gives you a chance to be thoughtful a dozen times every day, and it tempts you toward thoughtlessness. It trims your long distance bill, and prompts you to spend more on a phone than you ever dreamed you would a dozen years ago.

Now add to all that a totally complex and volatile assignment. It's not enough to handle all this yourself. Your new task is to teach your teenager to do that as well. Here's what WORLD subscribers Robert and Kristie Sulaski worked out recently with their daughter Emily:

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THIS AGREEMENT effective the _____ day of ________, 200__ ("Effective Date"), by and between Emily R. Sulaski (hereinafter "Emily") and Robert & Kristie Sulaski (hereinafter "Mom and Dad").


-Whereas, Emily desires to develop into the person and character that God has called each of us to be;

-Whereas, Emily has demonstrated her ability to focus on academics, become involved in athletics, and continues to serve others;

-Whereas, Emily desires to have a mobile cellular telephone ("Cell Phone") to call her family and a limited number of friends;

-Whereas, the Cell Phone provides a level of independence with parental oversight that is part of the continued process of Emily transferring her obedience from Mom and Dad to Christ;

-Whereas, Mom and Dad are willing to provide her with a Cell Phone under certain conditions and restrictions.

NOW, THEREFORE, Emily and Mom and Dad agree as follows:

1. Hours of Operation. The phone may be used Monday through Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., Saturday 8:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., Sunday after church until 7:00 p.m. unless she is calling Mom and Dad.

2. Base Fee, Total Minutes and Text Messaging. Emily shall complete Chores (as defined below), babysitting, or other outside work to pay the monthly service of $10 and any charges for minutes over 240 total minutes per month excluding calls within the Verizon network that are not billable. All text messaging charges are the responsibility of Emily.

3. Chores. Emily will complete the following chores in order to retain possession of the Cell Phone: a) Make bed daily; b) Straighten bedroom daily; c) Clean & vacuum room weekly; d) Clean the girls' bathroom weekly; e) Assist Mom and Dad upon their reasonable request and pursuant to the rotating chore schedule issued quarterly.

4. School Responsibilities to Retain Use. Emily will complete or maintain the following in order to retain possession of the cell telephone: a) At no time may any daily average grade fall below an 85 in any subject; b) Term grades must be at least 88 and above with no more than two "B's" and status being "Honors"; c) Must complete summer reading; d) Must complete at least 2 hours of casual reading each week.

5. Family & Friend Responsibilities to Retain Use. The Cell Phone will be confiscated by Mom & Dad if the following occurs: a) sharp, harsh or harmful language; b) disrespectful to Mom or Dad; c) fostering an argumentative environment with siblings; d) any conversation considered gossip or discussions hurtful to any person; e) review of any messages, calls or other use deemed by Mom & Dad to be in conflict to God's word and standard for our lives.

6. Calls. a) The Cell Phone is to be used no longer than 15 minutes for one call. b) The Cell Phone is not to be used while in the car for chatting; use must be for a specific purpose. c) Emily must comply with all school policies for phone use including having the phone stored in the locker during the school day.

7. Loss. If Emily loses the Cell Phone, it shall be her responsibility and expense to replace it.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF the parties have caused this Agreement to be executed the day and year first above written.

Neither of Emily's parents, by the way, is an attorney. They're just thoughtful, fun-loving folks intent on helping their children think about everything in life-including their cell phones-in a disciplined, God-centered way. I thought it was a model worth passing on.

Joel Belz
Joel Belz

Joel, WORLD's founder, writes a regular column for the magazine and contributes commentaries for The World and Everything in It. He is also the author of Consider These Things.


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