Teaching your children to honor privacy leads to healthy boundaries, trust, and respect. The majority of parents begin early by designating a room for their child. Parents decorate the room, which may have once been a nursery, and the room changes with the child. There are rules set up about the child’s room, such as what is allowed in the room and keeping it clean. For teens, their room becomes a projection of their personality. In many families, there’s an understanding that the room is private and that means no entering without asking. But is that a good rule? Should parents state the conditions where they would sacrifice their child’s privacy for their safety?
I recently posted a poll on twitter asking if it was okay for parents to go into their child’s room without permission if the child had been acting differently. Most parents said that they should check the room, but some did not agree. Are we risking our child’s safety by prioritizing privacy?
Part of growing up is learning from your mistakes. Over-bearing or “hoovering” parents raise children who are afraid to take risks, lack the confidence to make it on their own, and continue to financial and emotional support long after they’ve grown up. In a way, our world has become smaller; a click on a website or a photo you took at a vulnerable time can hurt your chances of future employment. The stress of keeping up, the lack of face-to-face communication, and a generation of parents who work during the day and night leaves many kids in harm’s way. Where’s the balance? How much privacy is too much? Below are suggestions that will help guide you when you’re talking to your child about privacy:
Parents should state up front when they give their child their own room, a phone, or a laptop that privacy is a privilege not a right. You are trusting them to be honest with you.
Safety is more important than privacy. Tell your child that their safety comes first. That means if you are concerned, you will do random checks on their room, car, or phone.
Tell your child if their behavior or personality changes in a way that concerns you, their privacy rights will be put second.
Parents who have regular check-ins or a designated time to talk face-to-face with their child have less problems with privacy issues. The teen years are challenging, and parents forget the importance of their presence. No matter how busy your child may be with sports, school, and friends, stay in your child’s life. Take work breaks or long walks; find a way to engage that works for your schedules. Talk and listen to your children. No excuse is a good enough to abandon your child during the teen years.
Teens have tactics to use when parents “spy” on them, but parents must remember that keeping their child safe must be a top priority. Remind your child that they violated your ability to trust them. In the real world violating trust can lead to you getting fired, divorced, or incarcerated. It is not “spying” if your job is to keep your child safe.