People who know I love to read are often confused when I tell them I don’t have a lot of rules around digital devices. This is one area where I am not as consistent as I think I need to be. I love my devices. I write every day, all day on my beloved MacBook Air. I am never more than a few feet from my phone which I probably check 200 times a day, no exaggeration.

Late last night I heard the ding of text messages arriving in rapid succession. I got up to find out whose device was dinging. It was my son’s iPad which has his iMessages signed into it. I checked the device and found that my son and his new “girlfriend” (I am forced to use this term in quotes until I come to terms with it internally). I looked at the clock and saw that it was nearly 10 at night! My instinct was to tell him he can’t use his device anymore. I don’t want a girl texting him at 10 at night, but my new parenting book (that I am writing!) tells me that he has to figure out how to have a device-free evening.

I’m one of those parents who sets up all these rules and then, in the name of flexibility, ignores each one. Bad parenting to be sure, but my kids are so nice and kind and capable. So which do you believe? I choose to think that I’m firm when it feels like it matters most. So I waited until morning.

This morning when my son looked way too tired, I asked him what time he went to sleep. “Not until 10 or something. My “girlfriend” was texting with me. I think I should text her after school instead of at night.”

BOOM!

Yes, you should Big Guy. My work here is done. Does this always work? Of course not, but I am so grateful when it does.