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Does stepdad have the right to take cell phone from teen?

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Dear Dr. Laura,
Hello I'm 14 and my step dad and mom are separated but I still go to his house. He was the only dad figure I've had in my life since I was 5 so I still go to his house with my 5 yr old brother (his blood son) and he wanted to take my phone away because it was a school night and he didn't want me on it all night but he doesn't pay the bill, my mom does! I told him that! And so he took my phone charger that's mine too-my mom payed for it. So can he do that? What if something happens and I need the cops or something?


It's natural that you're mad at your (step) dad for taking your phone away. But he is trying to do what's right to take care of you. Teens are moving (fast) toward adulthood, but you know that you still need help sometimes to do the right thing for yourself. This is one of those times. It is a bad idea for you to be on your cell phone all night on a school night. Regardless of who pays the bills on your cell phone, it is his job to be the parent and help you stop using your phone when you're having a hard time stopping yourself. If you had an emergency and needed to use the phone to call the police, you could use the house phone, or run next door to the neighbors.

I understand you disagreed about this limit your dad set. That is your right. And as you get older, you will be able to discuss, reasonably, how to compromise so that you get what you want and need (like staying in touch with friends) and your parents get what they need to feel comfortable that you are healthy and safe (like getting homework done and getting enough sleep on a school night.) If you can find win/win compromises, you'll get what you want more often.

In the meantime, thank heaven you have a dad who chooses you, loves you, cares enough about you to fight for what you need rather than just letting you do what you want. I know you don't always feel lucky, but you are so much luckier than so many kids, to have a stepdad like that.

Blessings and hugs,
Dr. Laura

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