I had a lot of self-righteous ideas about when my oldest daughter would get a phone.

Because of my job, I even got to write about them and give speeches about them in front of audiences. When I put my foot in my mouth, I don’t like to do it in a small way. I go all in!

I honestly thought that we probably wouldn’t get her one until she was in the 9th grade. That seemed like the best age. I had a lot of reasons for this decision and felt fairly confident about the whole thing in general.

Unfortunately, I was wrong. Very, very wrong.

My oldest daughter got a phone on her 12th birthday. That is much, much earlier than I anticipated.

Why did she get one there?

Well, I’ve shared this before, but one thing really changed the whole situation for me.

L.E., my oldest daughter, is in an awesome small group with our church. Over the years, she has really grown to love that group of girls. They have become some of her best friends.

One night, my wife said, “It’s too bad L.E. doesn’t get all those encouraging texts from her small group all week.” I didn’t know what she meant and asked her to clarify.

“Well, all week, every other girl in the group is connected to a group text. They send Bible verses and jokes and encouragement. Since L.E. doesn’t have a phone and she’s the only one without one, she misses that community.”

My main problem was that I was judging my daughter’s adolescence based on mine. I thought, “Her friends can just call our house phone!” What a stupid, stupid thought. Kids don’t use the phone that way. They don’t call each other. I’ve maybe seen my daughter have 5 phone calls in her life. It’s text or nothing.

Suddenly, the phone wasn’t a demonic distraction that would whisk my innocent daughter into a digital wasteland where teens get in trouble, it was a connection point.

Does that mean every kid should get a phone at 12? Nope. I don’t think every kid is the same. I think some are ready at 12 and some aren’t. Each kid matures differently. But, I implore you to think long and hard about the issue. As a dad, I’ve been thrilled at the connection it’s become for us.

L.E. sends me jokes and memes she sees. She texts me out of the blue. In addition to all the updates on where she is or if she made it to her friend’s house on her bike, I get to know her personality in some really fun ways.

If you’re a parent, the phone conversation is headed your way.

The age of 12 worked for us, maybe 14 will be better for you. Time will tell, but please know that it’s not nearly as bad as you think. Your kid’s first phone can be a wonderful experience if you’re deliberate about it.

Fear no phone.