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How much privacy do we give our kids?

post #1 of 66
Thread Starter 

Have you ever read their diary?

Listened in on a phone call?

Asked their friends questions about them they wouldn't answer?

Would you follow them?

Have you gone through their personal things, like a purse, back pack, wallet?

Have you looked through their room?


How much privacy do you give your kids and how often do you feel you invade their privacy?

post #2 of 66

I don't know the answer to this because my kids are little (under 5) so they don't have "stuff" to invade


But I have really vivid memories of my parents listening to phone conversations, looking in my binders, reading journals and the likes and it really messed me up for a good bit because I lived in this state of constant paranoia that my parents would read some inner thought that was just..for my eyes only. 


So I think when my kids are that age I'm going to try hard NOT to snoop unless I feel they are in danger or something. 

post #3 of 66
Originally Posted by mommariffic View Post
But I have really vivid memories of my parents listening to phone conversations, looking in my binders, reading journals and the likes and it really messed me up for a good bit because I lived in this state of constant paranoia that my parents would read some inner thought that was just..for my eyes only. 


So I think when my kids are that age I'm going to try hard NOT to snoop unless I feel they are in danger or something. 

this. My kids are older (13 and 14) and they have a TON of privacy -- partly out of my reaction to my uber controlling parents who felt I didn't deserve any.


If I were concerned about something specific -- one of my kids was depressed or in some other ways sending up red flags I would consider invading their privacy to help them, but I would still think through it carefully and check my motives and the possible outcomes for them.


One issue with privacy now that wasn't the case when I was growing up is that much of my kids' communication with their peers is in easily traceable ways. I don't read their Facebook pages or texts messages, but have made it very clear to them how public those mediums are, and that other parents do things like routinely read all texts, listen to all phone messages, etc. I've stressed that nothing communicated digitally is private, even if it seems like it is at the time. It all leaves traces.



post #4 of 66
Thread Starter 

I haven't done any of these things without them knowing.  I look through their backpacks everyday, however I only look in two compartments, the main one and the pocket they keep their snacks in.  The other pockets are not for my viewing.  I know there is stuff in there and I'm so curious!   DD1 is an open book she'll tell you everything if you ask.  And sometimes when you don't. 


Really thinking about this I can see myself feeling like I needed to look through their purse or back pack.  I wouldn't read their diary, my brother did that to me once and then showed it everyone.  I probably would follow them if I thought they were doing something unsafe, like sneaking out or not going where they said they would go.  I think If I felt I needed to monitor their computer use and phone use I would let them know I planned on doing it. 



post #5 of 66

I am adamant about NOT snooping in/through my child's belongings unless, and this would have to be a BIG unless, there was a compelling reason to believe that he was in danger.  


My mom gave me no privacy and no space.  She snooped, read my journals, went through my things--regularly.  I was a good kid, good grades, reasonable friends.  I really think that the lack of respect my mom had for me and my need for privacy destroyed our relationship.  We live thousands of miles apart, I have spoken to her approximately 6 times in the past 2 years and not at all in the past 4 months.  It sucks...but my reaction to her snooping was to put up impenetrable walls.

post #6 of 66
Originally Posted by Imakcerka View Post

Have you ever read their diary?  No

Listened in on a phone call?  No

Asked their friends questions about them they wouldn't answer? No

Would you follow them?  I would if I felt the need - I have not felt the need

Have you gone through their personal things, like a purse, back pack, wallet?   Back pack - yes.  I usually ask.  People forget stuff - and I don't know, backpacks are a school thing, and I feel I have the right to know their grades, what they are working, etc.  Heck, my DD's teacher expect me to sign her agenda.  I may rethink this, though.

Have you looked through their room?  In a random way?  No.  For a missing library book, etc, I will if it is time sensitive (i.e. i am going to the library now and they are not home).  It is rare that I look in their rooms



I have another one if you do not mind, Op, and that is how much online privacy do you give them?  Do you know their passwords to Facebook and the like?


post #7 of 66

Huh, I hadn't though of it that way.  Even if I don't read my dd's texts, her friend's parent might be doing so on the other end.  I should point that out to her. 


I don't do any of the things listed.  I think I give my dd a lot of privacy.  However, she left her Facebook account open just yesterday and I did check out her new boyfriend's FB page.  whistling.gif



So I learned he's an atheist, likes Scott Pilgrim, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Dr Horrible's Sing Along Blog.  orngbiggrin.gif



Kathy I hadn't read yours when I posted.  I probably know dd's Facebook password, but I haven't purposefully gone in there.  She spends a lot of time on Tumblr and I really don't know what it's about.  But she tells me to stay away because it's nothing but crude humor and teen angst.  eyesroll.gif 


I respect her privacy, am not interested in snooping.  But yeah, if I thought there was trouble I would consider it, if I thought it might be useful. 

post #8 of 66
Thread Starter 

Actually DD1 is allowed on the webs, she plays mmo's and DH sits with her. The rules for that are, no age, no name, no gender.  Chat is for game play only.  DH reads all that.  The DD's have a FB together with cousins only because they did the summer challenge.  I log into that.  No pictures though just a silly drawing they did together. 

post #9 of 66

We are not there yet. With some things for us privacy is a privelage once trust is broken then you no longer have the right to privacy and have to earn it back. 

I will not go through rooms unless I have reason to believe I need to, diaries I will not read unless I think I need to like to find out if they are depressed and things like that. For the most part your room is your room. I would not listen to phone calls as in picking up the other end. I am not a fan of eaves dropping either. 

Um as far as internet goes I am more in the thinking of being proactive so we will have all pws and they will know that at anytime we can go in. However unless there is reason to then I don't see myself going in there. Its sorta like DH and I have each other's pws but neither of us actually exercise access to each others stuff. And there won't be no computers in rooms but in a open family area. Backpacks though at least 6th grade and under will be free access to. And with age comes more privacy. 



Pretty much you have privacy and unless we feel we need to look into things we won't invade the privacy. I remember my mom going through my room. However at the time I was upset about it she had good reason. I was 15 and writing 30 yr guy in jail. We knew the guy outside of jail but still wasn't appropriate. And thats also how she found out my friend might be pregnant because she was cleaning and found an empty pregnancy test box in m bathroom so that prompted her to go into my room. Because that aspect was very out of character for me so she was a bit concerned. because we talked about everything. 


post #10 of 66
Thread Starter 

I wonder why our parents felt the need to go through all of our things.  My mom read my diary.  When I found out I was mad, but being me I chose to write outlandish tales just to freak her out and at the end of the entry I would say things like "HA!  Got you mom!".  You could tell she read it because she would act a little sheepish all day.  I remember my step dad laughing about it all with her one night.  "She got you good this time, stop snooping!"   I was the star child, no joke!  Never did anything.  I was dorky enough to ask to skip school on Senior skip day.  By that point my mom was like, do what you want dork, you never do anything anyway!  By the way I read my moms diary onces... can you say mouth breather?  She had nothing good to say.  "I went to the gym, my shorts were lose today.  I ate an apple, oh I have to remember to bring cookies to church group."  BORING!  Maybe she read mine to spice up her life.


I can already tell DD1 won't ever be a problem, she's just not sneaky and she can't lie to save her life.  She'll try to lie but then she says never mind I forgot the rest of my lie.  I always end up laughing and she doesn't get in trouble.  Little DD is a mulberry streeter.  Read Seuss' "The things I saw on Mulberry Street."  And she's sneaky as heck.  This morning, I couldn't find my bobby pins or lipstick.  I have to keep my bathroom locked because she gets in there and takes so much stuff then hides it.  DD1 knows where the key is and is allowed in there because she doesn't touch my things.  So yes I'll be going home today and checking their room, because she'll have lipstick on and come up with how she got lipstick all over herself and it wasn't mine somehow.  Still trying to figure out how she got in my bathroom.  DD1 said she didn't tell her where the key was.  I already told DD1 I'd be going through their room since other things are missing so she knows she has until tonight to hide what she feels she needs to hide from. 

post #11 of 66
Originally Posted by Imakcerka View Post

I wonder why our parents felt the need to go through all of our things. 

My parents did not.  I vaguely remember one conversation where my mom said she felt she had the right to look in my stuff if she ever thought I was on drugs or something, but to the best of my knowledge she never did.  


The only thing she did which was sort of an invasion of privacy was throw out my clothes and stuff if I did not use them.  I know why she did it ("we have no space - and you are not using it - why should you care?") but it still burned.  My Dh had it even worse in this regard  - he once rescued his pillow which his mom shot out because he thought it was ratty.  We both have issues with stuff, and some of it comes down to not repeating the mistakes our parents made in this regard.  I am not blaming my parents or DH parents for stuff issues - but still, there is baggage there.




post #12 of 66

Mine is too young for this to be an issue right now, but I remember how little privacy I was allowed by my family and how destructive this was for me. Even now if I write in my diary or write a post online in a help forum I have paranoia about someone I know reading it. I think diaries are off limits. However I've had friends with teenagers tell me awful things they have found on Facebook or in text messages containing abusive and threatening messages from friends or boyfriends which I WOULD want to know about and as parents we do need to know about. Sometimes I wonder if it would be better if FB was only available to 18 year olds and over. But mobile phones are necessary for your teenager to contact you so you can't limit that...and I do think it's rude to read someone's texts...

post #13 of 66

Hmmmm......we give privacy, and ask that everyone respect private spaces in our home. So, theoretically, the kids cannot just bound into each other's  bedrooms, closed doors mean knocking is needed to enter, etc.


DD is not on line yet-I think we're one of the last hold outs in middle school, or at least it feels that way!  However, the computer is centrally located, not in the bedrooms.


The phone was a place of negotiation.  We do reserve the right to read texts, and dd knows this.  She has fortunately never been the recipient of any bullying, but some of the texts she's received from friends about other kids have been things we are uncomfortable with.  Of course kids can, and will say whatever they want to each other, but it's a different ball game when you put it out there via text or FB.  We have had many conversations about not responding to "chain" texts ( a big issue at school last year).  DD has gotten a few, random texts from unknown people-not in her circle of friends, kind of sketchy, so we've gone over that. 


We're in a different place now with some experience, and dd is pretty responsible.  But frankly, the phone was a big deal, and we weren't about to hand off this form of communication without ongoing guidance.  

post #14 of 66

No to all of the above. But mine are 6 and 4. If I thought there was a SERIOUS issue, like snorting coke or contemplating suicide.... then I think I would break the rules and invade their privacy, just to the degree to get to the issue to help out. My mom read my diary, as did my younger sister, Later they both steamed open the love letters from my boyfriend, read them, then put them back. Disgusting. 


However, I bet there are parents, also on this forum, that do many or all of the above. But they are going to read the OP and then not reply. 

post #15 of 66

both my kids are on face book..17yr old ds and 14yr dd... both are my friend on fb  so i do monitor their accounts, i have the controls set up on the laptops so i can check which websites the look at, i cant remember the last time i checked my sons but my dd is not making very good choices at the moment and had some mental health issues so i keep an eye on her online and as i pay for her phone i do occasionally check her txt messages/call log. I know both kids passwords for email etc, i don't check my sons anymore..he may even have changed his password





 I wouldn't read their journals if they had them, not sure if they do... don't go into their rooms when they are out  except to dump the clean laundry on their beds or to retrieve something of mine that i know is in there. I don't listen in on their calls unless they are sitting in the same room then i cant help but hear




I think there is a big difference between the privacy  of a journal compared to the supposed privacy of being on-line...


I wouldn't follow either of them, but if they tell me they are somewhere that is where i expect them to be and i do phone their friends parents occasionally to make sure they really where they have told me they are, they both know i will do this so no point lying about who's house you are sleeping over in.



All in all i think it depends on the child, i have caught my daughter out so many times with lying about who she is taling to and where she is going that she has much less  privacy  than  my son, her choice.

post #16 of 66

We only look at their online activities because we want to keep them safe and away from bullies.   

post #17 of 66
Originally Posted by cateerob View Post








I think there is a big difference between the privacy  of a journal compared to the supposed privacy of being on-line...



I agree with this.  I would not read journals, open mail, snoop around a room, follow my child (unless I felt they were in danger), but the on-line piece and the text piece feel different to me, esp. when your teen is younger and inexperienced.  I get that there are parents who can, or feel they can, be completely hands off, and I'm sure that when my oldest is further into her teens, we will be too.  But, we do ask her to bring us questionable texts, etc. to talk over.  Last year she had a friend giving out other kids phone #'s to basically an adult stranger, and there were chain mail texts going around that felt more threatening than silly.  We have parental controls-we blocked the creepy #.  


For me, there is a difference between snooping, or being overly controlling, and being a normal parent who doesn't hand over the reigns to everything in order to seem not intrusive.  Probably not a popular or cool MDC position, but there you have it.

post #18 of 66

My kids are still very young (14 months and 6 years) so a lot of this hasn't come up yet. Right now, my 6 year old DD does not keep a diary yet, does not have phone access, goes no where without me, and we share a room. As it stands now, none of us have any privacy, and she hasn't expressed any interest in having privacy. It seems to be a foreign concept for her, much to our roommate's chagrin. Lately we've been discussing privacy (specifically our roommate's desire for it) and working on openness, honesty, trust, and making good choices. I'm hoping by the time she becomes interested in having privacy, we'll have established enough trust that snooping won't be necessary. I don't plan on invading her privacy unless I'm legitimately afraid for her safety. However, even then, there are certain things that just feel off limits to me, the biggie being reading her diary. I got in a lot of trouble over my journal entries when I was younger, and I clearly remember how violated I felt knowing that someone had read my most intimate thoughts and that I was being punished for having them. I don't ever want to make her feel like that. Of course I'd never directly punish over something like that, but at the same time, going into someone's personal thoughts you're risking finding something you don't want to know, and I imagine it would be difficult to not react to some things. It just seems best not to put myself or her in that position to begin with. As far as the online thing goes, my kids don't have access to computers, and I don't plan on that changing very much. In a few years, I may start letting DD use my lap top occasionally for educational purposes, but not for anything else, and as I'm her teacher, of course I'd be supervising. My computer is the only screen in the house, and I'd like to eventually limit my own use to no more than an hour or so per week.

post #19 of 66


My parents, stellar in many ways, were TERRIBLE about respecting privacy. I literally did not have privacy for my bodily functions. I was 22 years old before I stopped dragging a piece of furniture in front of the bathroom door in the house I shared with my boyfriend. My parents wouldn't (couldn't?) understand that my desire for privacy was legitimate and healthy in the way that an adult's would be. I used to have to push my bedstead against the door at night to keep my little brother from coming in at the crack of dawn and hitting me in the face. The usual journal-reading, etc. that characterizes parents who don't respect privacy was also an issue sometimes, but the tough part for me was the lack of physical privacy. 


All of that to illustrate how much I appreciate the need for my children to have privacy in my home, and that it's my role as a parent to provide spaces where they can be alone with no fear of being barged in on. Our bathrooms have locks and our bedroom have locks. Everybody knocks. I clean up their stuff and will be doing that for years, but I can't imagine anything a normal kid would have in their bedroom that would prompt me into some kind of confrontation with them. I'm a pretty laid-back person about naughty pictures and cigarettes and other such teenage contraband. My folks set a good example on that front at least. 


The big change that has happened, of course, is digital communication. My kids are too young for texting or Facebook. They do surf the Web a bit, and I monitor that. When they are old enough to WANT privacy for texting or Internet use - well, that's when I get to tell them that there's no such thing, and that they must assume that every word, image, idea they consume or put out there - especially ones connected to their IRL identity - can and will be intercepted and viewed by their own parents or somebody else's. Until they are 18, I'm going to monitor them in cyberspace. 


I will not, however, eavesdrop on any real conversation they may choose to have offline, with friends who I can actually see :-)





post #20 of 66

Dd is 11 years old. I think most of these questions pertain to privacy for teens so I am not quite there yet.


Have you ever read their diary? No paper diary that I know of. I don't think I would look at one unless dd was acting in a manner that made me worried for her safety and wouldn't talk to anyone.

Listened in on a phone call? Well, I've been in the room when she is on the phone but she knew it. I've never secretly picked up another receiver and listened in.

Asked their friends questions about them they wouldn't answer? No. Not unless she was acting super weird and wouldn't talk and I was afraid for her safety.

Would you follow them? I can't imagine doing this.

Have you gone through their personal things, like a purse, back pack, wallet? Not really. I have looked for things with dd's permission and knowledge or checked if something is packed for a trip. I do sometimes help with room cleaning or put away clothes without much warning.

Have you looked through their room? Not really. I go in there to speak to her or put something away but I don't go in just to look through things.

How much privacy do you give your kids and how often do you feel you invade their privacy?

I give dd more privacy than she gives me. I guess I invade dd's privacy a bit but I don't think it is excessive or for the purpose of snooping.

The bathroom door has a lock which dd can use. Dd's bedroom has a door that she frequently closes. If doors are closed we are supposed to knock in our house. Dd has her own computer (no internet) and I don't look at anything on it unless she shows me. Dd doesn't have unsupervised internet access or a phone of her own. I haven't forbidden dd to use the phone but she never calls anyone. She doesn't have a Facebook or e-mail account of her own yet. I do allow her to send e-mail to certain people with my e-mail account and I do not read the messages first. I do not follow her around 24/7 to see what she is doing. She has been off in another part of the house for over an hour and I haven't checked on her.


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