Would you invade your child's privacy to make sure they are okay? - Mothering Forums

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Old 11-18-2008, 10:53 AM - Thread Starter
 
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This was on the radio this morning and it got me fired up. I was curious what some other Mother's thought...

I usually miss the original email in the morning that spawns the conversation, but it had something to do with "spying" or following up on your children to make sure they are not up to things they shouldn't be.

This Mother called in and said that as a parent you have to do whatever it takes to make sure your child is safe and she has broken into her daughter's diary several times to "check-up" on her. She even admitted her daughter gave her no reason to beleive she had any troubles going on or anything, she just felt as the Mother she had every right to snoop in her daughter's things to make sure she was okay.


This really angered me... maybe I'm being unrealistic because I do not have teens to deal with yet... but I plan on impressing an open communication and am hoping if my children are dealing with anything and need help, they know they can come to me... I do not agree with invading their privacy like this.

My Mother did that to me as a teen, and it's still a sore spot. She raided my room and found a box of condomns and I actually got grounded for it... Grounded for being reponsible... yeah I don't think that was the correct message to send.


So anyway... thoughts on this??

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Old 11-18-2008, 11:02 AM
 
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I would not read a diary. I can't imagine a circumstance in which I would. (maybe serious criminal activity or an attempted suicide.... which are both awful thoughts )For me, words/thoughts are sacred, and having a diary that one can trust will not be read is very important to personal well-being.

I would search a room, though, if I were concerned about drugs or sexual activity or minor criminal activity (shoplifting, maybe?). Storing stolen goods or drugs in your parents' house is not so much important for personal well-being.

I will be open with my children about this-- "Your room is your room, I'll knock before I come in... but it's still my house, and we don't keep *insert material you find objectionable* in my house."

This very much depends on age, too.

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Old 11-18-2008, 11:14 AM
 
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I would.
If I had a reason to believe that my daughter (or son) was not safe, yes, I would.
I wanted to kill myself when I was 13, had my mother not looked through my diary & confronted me, then I probably would have.
Yes, it's not a good thing, but I would do whatever it takes to keep my children safe. They might be angry with me at the time, but looking back they won't,
& I'd rather have an angry daughter than a dead daughter.

That being said,
I would NOT go through her room, read letters or anything, just to "check up on her" or "see what she's up to". I do hope to have a very good relationship with DD , & that she will come to talk to me about her problems.
But a depressed teenager, well, they often do very sad things.
I might be slightly more nervous, though, as I lost two friends through suicide, & I understand that many people here will strongly disagree with my opinion.
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Old 11-18-2008, 11:24 AM
 
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If I felt there was a reason to go through their stuff, I would. I won't go through it just because I can. When they start getting into IM and myspace, I will make sure to have all info so I can check up on them. I value their online safety over their privacy.

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Old 11-18-2008, 11:28 AM
 
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absolutely.

The truest answer to violence is love. The truest answer to death is life. The only prevention for violence is for the heart to have no violence within it.  We cannot prevent evil through any system devised by mankind. But we can grapple with evil and defeat it, but only with love—real love.

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Old 11-18-2008, 11:30 AM
 
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I would not read a diary. I can't imagine a circumstance in which I would. (maybe serious criminal activity or an attempted suicide.... which are both awful thoughts )For me, words/thoughts are sacred, and having a diary that one can trust will not be read is very important to personal well-being.

I would search a room, though, if I were concerned about drugs or sexual activity or minor criminal activity (shoplifting, maybe?). Storing stolen goods or drugs in your parents' house is not so much important for personal well-being.

I will be open with my children about this-- "Your room is your room, I'll knock before I come in... but it's still my house, and we don't keep *insert material you find objectionable* in my house."

This very much depends on age, too.
I agree with this. I would but only if I thought that she was in danger of hurting herself or someone else.

Just to check up on her? No way. For me to read her diary it would have to be a last resort type thing.

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Old 11-18-2008, 11:31 AM
 
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I value their online safety over their privacy.

oh my goodness, i had completely ignored the fact that they are going to use instant messengers & such!
That is such a scary thought.
I hope they won't be interested in that sort of thing..
(haha, what are the chances!)
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Old 11-18-2008, 12:55 PM
 
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My dd is 8 and I would never invade her privacy, especially snoop and break into her diary. Right now we have a very close relationship and she is very open w/me. I kind of relish that b/c I know that may change, but right now I don't take advantage of it, and I appreciate her telling me things. I do know that she may not tell me right away, but when things bother her, she does eventually tell me. My mother was never that open w/me (and we still are not close), but she also never went thru my things.
If I thought she was in some sort of danger to herself or others, well to me, that is a different story.
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Old 11-18-2008, 01:04 PM
 
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My mom did. Same situation as the OP - she "cleaned" my room and found my condoms. She did not ground me, but we fought. She was upset that I hid part of my life from her. I think that scenario happened about 3 times.

I am a total doofus because while I knew she poked around my room, I never locked up my diaries. She read those too. I think maybe a part of me knew she would.... and boy, she must have died reading some parts. She did not tell me she snooped until recently - I think I was pregnant! And I was furious, but I understood a little.

I think I will probably snoop, but be like my mom. She (with the exception of the condom incident) never let me know she snooped, but used what she found out to have certian talks. And she was making sure I was OK. I was very moody and dark, and probably scared her a bit, but I was being a dramatic teen. I was never in danger. I think reading my thoughts helped keep her from wigging out over my choice of music/dress/decor/boyfriends.

ETA - my mom and I have always been close, even through the teen angst and drama. She only kind of betrayed my trust, because while she did snoop, she also kept my secrets.

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Old 11-18-2008, 01:33 PM
 
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I would not read my child's journal except in some bizarre, rare, extreme circumstance, like they went missing, and I was desperate for clues to find them.

I am shocked that so many people would. I find it very disturbing.

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Old 11-18-2008, 01:42 PM
 
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I do not trust my mother to this day. She routinely read my stuff and threw out my stuff. There was no reason for this. The only place I could keep things I wanted was at my grandmother's. She and my dad also read all mail that came to me unless I got to it first. They didn't believe that privacy was an option.

I would NEVER do this to my child. If I suspected that they may harm themselves or someone else or were exhibiting strange behavior, I would talk to them first. Sometimes you just need a place to sort your thoughts.
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Old 11-18-2008, 01:49 PM
 
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Originally Posted by JSMa View Post
This was on the radio this morning and it got me fired up. I was curious what some other Mother's thought...

I usually miss the original email in the morning that spawns the conversation, but it had something to do with "spying" or following up on your children to make sure they are not up to things they shouldn't be.

This Mother called in and said that as a parent you have to do whatever it takes to make sure your child is safe and she has broken into her daughter's diary several times to "check-up" on her. She even admitted her daughter gave her no reason to beleive she had any troubles going on or anything, she just felt as the Mother she had every right to snoop in her daughter's things to make sure she was okay.


This really angered me... maybe I'm being unrealistic because I do not have teens to deal with yet... but I plan on impressing an open communication and am hoping if my children are dealing with anything and need help, they know they can come to me... I do not agree with invading their privacy like this.

My Mother did that to me as a teen, and it's still a sore spot. She raided my room and found a box of condomns and I actually got grounded for it... Grounded for being reponsible... yeah I don't think that was the correct message to send.


So anyway... thoughts on this??
My mother did that to me, too, and yes it is still a sore spot. She also used to open my mail, etc. I would never do that to my kids unless I had very concrete reason to believe they were in immediate danger.
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Old 11-18-2008, 01:51 PM
 
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Never say never in parenting, I guess, but I don't think I would.

Both my husband and I have kept journals and we consider them really private; I would like to extend the same courtesy to my son.

I guess I feel like there are likely to be other signs of any serious trouble. Maybe that's overly optimistic, but I know that for me any hint of someone prying into my very personal space would just make me shut down even more.

herewearetogether, I can totally understand your viewpoint about it. I think it's a good reminder of what a critical role parents play.

For online communication with teens over 12 (ish), I feel the same way up until the point that it becomes real contact.

So I think I would focus my efforts on making sure my son understood those elements - not to give out personal information, and never to meet anyone from the 'net without informing us, rather than trying to monitor everything he did.

Under 12 (ish; depends on the child) I do think monitoring online communication is fine; it's like you have playdates with parents for a while and then move to playdates with just the 'host' parent, and then eventually the kids can meet at the park on their own. I see my role as being much more intrusive at the start and then gradually stepping back.

I do think that leaving kids space to make mistakes - hopefully not critical ones although there is some risk - is actually one of the ways one builds responsibility, ethics, and capability to meet life's challenges. So I don't see my goal as being to prevent a teenager from experiencing anything negative or to know everything. More to have my radar up.

I do see my role as being to step in when it gets really dangerous. But I don't think a diary is likely to be the only sign. But again I might change my opinion later.

I know I would search my son's room if I thought there was a drug problem. But I wouldn't for anything to do with sex; I'd actually rather find condoms than not.

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Old 11-18-2008, 03:31 PM
 
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My Mother did that to me as a teen, and it's still a sore spot. She raided my room and found a box of condomns and I actually got grounded for it... Grounded for being reponsible... yeah I don't think that was the correct message to send.
My parents read something of mine when I was 17. It wasn't a diary, per se, it was a notebook that my best friend in high school and I would use to right back and forth to each other. There was definately some... stuff... I would never have wanted my parents to read! They found out I was having sex, drinking on the weekends and smoking (various things ).

They grounded me. For 4 months until I turned 18 and they couldn't do a darn thing about it. I basically was not allowed out of the house except to go to school- which mom and dad took me to and picked me up from.

What did it teach me? To start skipping school during those 4 months (to my credit though- I never skipped any actual classes, just study periods and lunch). I also started leaving the house at night after mom was asleep. And after that 4 months was up I went right back to where I was, with the same guy doing the same things. Looking back I know they were trying to protect me. They really went about it the wrong way. Less than a year after I turned 18 and was ungrounded I got pregnant with the same guy they were trying to keep me from seeing

But would I do the same thing? No way. The only chance of me doing that would be if I felt my child were in danger (suicidal, etc) and they were refusing to talk to me or other adults about it.

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Old 11-18-2008, 03:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My parents read something of mine when I was 17. It wasn't a diary, per se, it was a notebook that my best friend in high school and I would use to right back and forth to each other. There was definately some... stuff... I would never have wanted my parents to read! They found out I was having sex, drinking on the weekends and smoking (various things ).

They grounded me. For 4 months until I turned 18 and they couldn't do a darn thing about it. I basically was not allowed out of the house except to go to school- which mom and dad took me to and picked me up from.

What did it teach me? To start skipping school during those 4 months (to my credit though- I never skipped any actual classes, just study periods and lunch). I also started leaving the house at night after mom was asleep. And after that 4 months was up I went right back to where I was, with the same guy doing the same things. Looking back I know they were trying to protect me. They really went about it the wrong way. Less than a year after I turned 18 and was ungrounded I got pregnant with the same guy they were trying to keep me from seeing

But would I do the same thing? No way. The only chance of me doing that would be if I felt my child were in danger (suicidal, etc) and they were refusing to talk to me or other adults about it.

Precisely!! All that did was teach me to hide things better and I started sneaking out a lot because I was constantly grounded... I moved out right when I turned 18 and got into some seriously bad relationships.

I don't regret my decisions because it all has built me to who I am... but I wish my parents would have been more communicative instead of invading my privacy and trying to dictate my life when I was 16-17 years old. I was being responsible. When I was drinking we never drove, we took friends keys already at parties. I took myself to Planned Parenthood as soon as I became sexually active and used protection.

It just really bothered me the way this woman spoke on the radio like she "owned" her child and could just do what she'd like with her daughters things.

Our children are their own people... We can guide, but I think totally betraying their trust is going to do way more harm than good... they are going to feel like they have no one to turn to when they DO need someone to talk to.

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Old 11-18-2008, 03:46 PM
 
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My mother did that to me, too, and yes it is still a sore spot. She also used to open my mail, etc. I would never do that to my kids unless I had very concrete reason to believe they were in immediate danger.
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I wouldn't have a problem if I thought there was danger involved (or illegal activity), but my Mom opened a letter I was sending to a boy I liked when I was 12 or so. He lived in CA so it's not like we could go and get into trouble or anything, but she opened it, read it, and didn't allow me to send it because I said that I liked him in the letter.
I think that's really overbearing, and honestly I don't know if she'd do it again, but obviously it affected me enough to remember 16 years later!
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Old 11-18-2008, 04:01 PM
 
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Granted, my son is only almost 7.
BUT, I pay the rent here, that IS NOT his room, THAT is MY room, I allow him to use it.

It is MY job to keep him safe and help him learn how to be a good man, a productive citizen, a good father, know the difference between right and wrong, and to love himself!

Children don't always talk to parents, even the most patient loving and openly communicating ones.

I WILL check up on him, I WILL check out his friends, I WILL make sure he is safe, and not doing anything illegal (underage sex or drugs)... The rest is pretty much up to him, I can only do so much, but what I DO have a say in, I WILL.

BUt thats just me......

It WILL be done in a productive way. Condoms found will result in a conversation about safe sex and responsibility. Drugs will result in immediate action. They will not be tolerated in my home, I will not have things like that put me and my family in danger.

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Old 11-18-2008, 04:08 PM
 
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Yes I would. If its for their own good and I feel something is not right that they are not telling me, yes. I love my children too much just to look the other way when there could be a serious problem.

Now, I would not randomly open mail, read diaries, etc "just because".

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Old 11-18-2008, 04:12 PM
 
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when I was younger and lived in Italy, I met a lady who admitted to me that she constantly read her dd's diaries, followed her out constantly spied on her, she eventually lost her dd, and had no contact with her, such a sad story. As others have mentioned - I would only do something like that if any of my kids were in real danger, as for internet safety I recently received an email which pointed out what could happen if kids gave too much detail about themselves, I can send it on to anyone who would like it - just pm me.

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Old 11-18-2008, 04:27 PM
 
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I would not unless my child was acting "odd" and has given me many reasons to believe that they are up to something but just to do it to "check up" on them, absolutely not.

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Old 11-18-2008, 04:34 PM
 
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I guess there's that overlap between being nosy and keeping your child safe.
I think some of the online activity monitoring software invades kids' privacy. My husband was telling me that a coworker told him the software he has records keystrokes, to me that's too much! To me, that is nosy, why on earth do you need to know every word that your child types online? Blocking sites, knowing how to get to your kids' public webpages like myspace is basic good parenting and not an invasion. Knowing the contents of every IM, email, google search, etc. is overly restrictive. If my child wants to look up something, like the disease chlamydia online out of pure curiosity because they heard it on a radio announcement, they should be free to do so w/o having to talk to me about it, and without me worrying. I have mixed feelings about GPS trackers on cell phones for kids who are otherwise basically good kids. Something seems stifling about it. Disclaimer: my baby is only 8 mo so I don't know what I'm in for.

If there was no signs that anything was askew, I would not invade my child's privacy. If something was off, of course my first course of action would be to talk to my child about it, and if necessary siblings/friends to try to get information, if not specific info then simply an acknowledgement that everything is ok and my child can cope. If my child shut down, I would talk to them about going to a therapist since s/he felt that talking to me would not be possible.
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Old 11-18-2008, 04:35 PM
 
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Granted, my son is only almost 7.
BUT, I pay the rent here, that IS NOT his room, THAT is MY room, I allow him to use it.

It is MY job to keep him safe and help him learn how to be a good man, a productive citizen, a good father, know the difference between right and wrong, and to love himself!

Children don't always talk to parents, even the most patient loving and openly communicating ones.

I WILL check up on him, I WILL check out his friends, I WILL make sure he is safe, and not doing anything illegal (underage sex or drugs)... The rest is pretty much up to him, I can only do so much, but what I DO have a say in, I WILL.

BUt thats just me......

It WILL be done in a productive way. Condoms found will result in a conversation about safe sex and responsibility. Drugs will result in immediate action. They will not be tolerated in my home, I will not have things like that put me and my family in danger.
That sounds like me. I have a responsibility to my children to keep them safe. Now depending on what was found, I may never say anything to them. (like one example i think of, say I'm worried my DD is doing drugs with her long term boyfriend, so i search her room, find no evidence of drugs but do find BC pills and condoms, then i thank my stars I taught her well and keep my mouth shut)
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Old 11-18-2008, 04:39 PM
 
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No, I would never read a diary or go through my child's stuff. My mom did that to me and all it got her was some ammunition to shame me. If I feared my teen were having sex or doing drugs (I was as a teen ), then I would do my best to open the door of communication. I don't think going through a kid's stuff will stop them...on the contrary.

If I really feared my child were suicidal, I would get the child to a doctor quick.
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Old 11-18-2008, 04:48 PM
 
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I'd have to say that for me, the way I feel, is that "Heck, yeah!" I'd do whatever it takes to make sure my child was fine. And I know many of you would hope there would be other signs but oftentimes with teenagers, there just isn't. Especially in these times of cyber bullying and all things computer related. Even back when I was growing up, teenagers hide so much of their feelings inside. I come from a very close family - we all call each other at least a few times a week - yet, still my sister was going through a lot and NO ONE IN MY FAMILY KNEW! She was anorexic, bulemic, and tried to commit suicide. On the outside, she was happy, healthy, didn't look sick or act sick, had many friends, was quite popular in school and had healthy activities and outlets. Luckily, my parents found her and were able to save her but I keep thinking, if only I (or my parents) had read her diary, then maybe we could have helped her before she did something so extreme.

So, in my opinion, as long as you are living under my roof, there is no right to privacy. I intend on getting a computer program that will record key strokes when he's old enough to be on the computer and I'm all for room searches. He is my pride and joy and it is MY responsibility to ensure his safety and wellbeing and I will do everything I can towards that purpose.

For what it's worth - my DH and I also are very transparent with each other. He has my email password and vice versa.

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Old 11-18-2008, 04:56 PM
 
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So, in my opinion, as long as you are living under my roof, there is no right to privacy. I intend on getting a computer program that will record key strokes when he's old enough to be on the computer and I'm all for room searches. He is my pride and joy and it is MY responsibility to ensure his safety and wellbeing and I will do everything I can towards that purpose.

For what it's worth - my DH and I also are very transparent with each other. He has my email password and vice versa.

Christine
I know you want to keep your son safe from online negative social interaction, but please reconsider. My opinion is that this is the equivalent of listening on another line while your child is talking on the phone. People communicate online so casually these days, that it is really a form of eavesdropping. Anything that is posted in the public sphere is, you know, public, but having private space online too I think is important.

Added: You sound like a loving Momma and I just added these thoughts because this is my opinion.
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Old 11-18-2008, 04:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Room searches? Like just random room searches just because??

*shudders*

I know you mean well... but geez... do you think your child will ever feel comfortable in their own space knowing you will just waltz in whenever and search them?? I can't even think of how degrading and demoralizing that is.

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Old 11-18-2008, 05:13 PM
 
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I would never invade my child's privacy unless I had a real reason to be concerned for the child's safety (say, search a room for drugs if I had other reasons for suspecting drug use, and gentler, more respectful approaches weren't working.)

Now, I do monitor my kids' internet and email usage, but I've always been upfront about that. There's no sneaking around "spying on" my kids- they KNOW that I reserve the right to read the occasional email (often over their shoulders), pop into their online chats, etc. 90% of the time they're on the computer I'm in the room anyway- either on the other computer next to them or doing other stuff in the living room.

I don't have a problem with that "record every keystroke" program (though I don't personally have it or desire that for my family) as long as the child is fully aware of its existence. Then the child can choose to *not* share certain things online if they don't want mom or dad to find out.

Ruth, single mommy to Leah, 19, Hannah, 18 (commuting to college), and Jack, 13(homeschooled)
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Old 11-18-2008, 05:26 PM
 
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My parents (mom and step dad) MAJORLY invaded my privacy. I'm still mad about it. They recorded all my phone conversations. They copied letters that I sent to my best friend and that she sent me. My brother was snooping in THEIR room once () and found a HUGE folder full of letters that they'd copied.
Strangly, I have been paranoid about being watched (especially in the bathroom) since before I knew this was happening. I found out in the last couple years that they did have cameras in the bathroom, to check on my brother if he was doing drugs or whatever.

For the most part, I wasn't doing anything wrong. I went on bc before I started having sex, and I wasn't into drugs or drinking or anything.

Now, otoh, my brother WAS causing trouble, and made trouble for himself and the family. He sold drugs from the house, stole stuff, and on and on.

I think I would keep it low key, and only snoop if I had a reason to believe that dc's safety was at risk. I wouldn't copy things, or record phone calls. I maybe could see looking around their room or something, but only if I had a good reason to do so.

I agree with Ruthla- if I were to keep an eye on, say, computer usage, I'd let dc know that it was a possibility beforehand.

Becky, partner to Teague, SAHM to Keagan (7yo), Jonah (2yo)
 

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Old 11-18-2008, 05:31 PM
 
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As a common occurence-no. If I truly suspected something was wrong-absolutely.

Kathy-Mom to Blake & Mikaela
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Old 11-18-2008, 05:33 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DevaMajka View Post
Strangly, I have been paranoid about being watched (especially in the bathroom) since before I knew this was happening. I found out in the last couple years that they did have cameras in the bathroom, to check on my brother if he was doing drugs or whatever.


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