Cutting the Cell Phone Umbilical Cord

“Mom, is it ok if I go on to Lauren’s cell phone plan?” This came from my son Micah, through a phone call last week. He had lost his phone and, as he and his wife talked, they realized that he could go on her plan. My immediate reaction was “Sure! That makes complete sense”. And then I hung up the phone and realized that in one more way I am reminded my children are adults.

Cutting the cell phone umbilical cord is a hard thing to do. Just as our babies are attached to the life-giving placenta via an umbilical cord, cell phones connect us to our kids in concrete and life-giving ways. We can text them or phone them at any hour “Hey – how are you? Miss you!” “Hi there! At the wedding. We miss you so much!” “Haven’t heard from you in a while! How’s the job?” Small sound bites but we cling to them because in our busy, over-connected worlds, it’s easy to forget to connect with what really matters.

I do have a theory that cell phone providers feed in to all that we’ve heard about the new adolescence of males stretching into the early thirties. As long as momma is paying for the cell phone that includes unlimited texting and a data plan, it’s hard to “leave and cleave”.

So, when do you cut the cell phone umbilical cord? When does it become time for an “adult child” to branch out on their own and get a new carrier? I’m not sure. Cell phone providers make it difficult. They charge far too much for a single plan, and demand a credit-check from young adults who don’t necessarily have any credit. It can’t be argued that having a family plan is more cost-effective. But when we cut the cord does it help us and our kids? If we cut that cord, will our kids voluntarily contact us instead of doing it through text message induced guilt?

I don’t know the answer to those questions. I know that I felt a certain trauma as I gave the go-ahead to Sprint to take Micah off the account and release his number. The umbilical cord is fully cut. The good news is that it seems to have been tied sufficiently so that there was no resulting blood loss and we seem to be doing absolutely fine.

What’s your experience been? Do your parents still pay for your cell phone? Do you pay for the cell phone that your kids use? Weigh in through the comment section! 

12 thoughts on “Cutting the Cell Phone Umbilical Cord

  1. Wow, that sounds an incredibly complicated system, unnecessarily so! Here you simply buy a cheap phone and a pre-paid sim card, put $20 on it to start your teenager off and tell them to get a job if they want to make calls! There is no way my kids will be sending their phone bills to me. I’ve seen too many horrific ones come from my younger sister. Having said that, lots of people here in the Shire give their kids iPhones and I think probably let them have contracts and pay for them too – what is that all about?


  2. Cell Phones ARE complicated!
    Me and my husband are actually still on a cell phone plan with my mom. We pay her but it’s in her name and this is mainly because my husband has bad credit and I basically have none because I have never used the stuff…’s just easier to share one.


  3. I can’t believe it! Sounds so complicated. I like to keep one billing so we use prepaid wherever we go. Just recharge as we need it. Yes as he girls are not earning we pay for their cell phone recharges. In India my landline is billed. It is so simple the franchise is in our apartment building itself. I don’t know if post paid billing requires a credit rating. Here in Kuwait only my husband has a post paid, In Europe it was so easy to get a pre paid sim card, This sounds too complicated for my simple brain


  4. My kids came and went before the cell phone arrived on the scene. But, I had to wean them of collect calls, that was difficult. My daughter finally stopped doing it when I snapped at the operator. “NO I don’t accept the charges, and tell her to get a job!”


    1. Funny!! Did she get a job? I remember making collect calls to my brother – parents were in Pakistan. Collect calls definitely fall into the category of long umbilical cords.


    1. hahahhahaa! This made me laugh so hard! It’s true!!! Because family plans are a better deal. Maybe the cell phone will help us go back to the extended family!


  5. I don’t blame you for holding on extra long! That’s exactly why I felt the trauma of separation in this recent example. It’s funny – as parents I think we go through this semi serious exasperation wanting our kids to move into financial independence, but when it happens it feels so permanent and we’re transported back to a time when they needed us for everything and with it the realization that they no longer need us in those concrete physical ways. Thanks for reading!


  6. My parents have mentioned on several occasions lately that they’re excited to “have the last of us off their cell phone plan.” “The last” being me. For them its a money-savings and I understand, just a year ago I bought my first car and took over all the insurance payments I hadn’t before. They always wanted to see us achieve financial independence, but in our own time when it made sense. My cell phone is my final piece–and maybe that’s why I’m holding on extra long :)


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