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Cell Phone Battleground Pits Mom Against Teens

DEAR ABBY: I have been married to a wonderful man for two years. We both have daughters the same age, born the same year. They will be 17 next March.

My husband works all day and I stay home and take care of the kids. (I also have two other girls, both under 10.) My problem is the 16-year-olds sneak around and do things behind my back when they are told they cannot do them.

One big issue is that although my ex has custody of my daughter, she stays with me because she cannot be trusted alone at his house. My husband and I bought the older girls cell phones to keep tabs on them when they are not at home. But the cell phones have caused so much arguing in the house that it's unreal.

Both girls have been told they cannot talk after midnight, but every time I get the bill, there are calls after midnight. I'm talking about 1 a.m., 2 a.m. -- even 4 a.m. They say I am wrong not to let them talk after 12 because they are adults, I am a mean mother, and I just want to prevent them from having a life. Now my daughter is saying that as soon as she's 17, she is moving out because she cannot stand it here. What should I do? -- STRESSED MOTHER IN MICHIGAN

DEAR STRESSED MOTHER: Confiscate the cell phones at bedtime. Your daughter may be 16, but she's acting like a 10-year-old. The person who pays for the cell phone makes the rules. It's up to you to enforce them.

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