It is my opinion & a humble one at that ..that children are entitled to have secret thoughts & dreams and keep them to themselves. However..I feel very strongly that if children are DOING something they don't want us(their parents) to know about then they probably SHOULDN"T be doing it.
Just wondering what everyone else thought about this and In what circumstances they might Snoop through their childs things.
I will never snoop in my son's things. I hope to inspire and cultivate a relationship of trust and communication so that he feels comfortable sharing things with me.
For regular teenaged "stuff" I say it's their business. All bets are off though if their health and life is at risk.
But if I had reason to believe there were serious problems like drugs, suicide, etc. then I would snoop. That requires parental involvement IMO.
Would you respect their privacy and trust..even when you know that they are being sneaky and maybe not quite so honest with you about where they are going and what they are doing?
but that may be at the heart of the comments-
For me, parenting is about raising and loving HEALTHY happy kids and sometimes that can be a huge juggling act where you borrow from one thing(like maybe trust) to balance off another thing, like maybe risk-
and ultimately there are, for me, the way I raise my kids,
like, I will never do this, or I will always do this
(okok, except love maybe, see I already prooved that there are no ultimates, not even that one hahahaha)
so IF I think I need to know something that my child may not be telling me then I MIGHT be drawn to check something out in his/her room- i have done it before and felt very ok about it- and yes my kids knew it- I shared with them afterwards the infoormation I was drawn to-
and having said that I can also say with confidence that my 14 year old dd who writes ALOT, you know, songs, poems stories and on and on, will tell me, no, dont read this, and then leave it right on her bed or desk because she KNOWS that I will N O T read her stuff- and I wouldnt...unless I thought I should
that was probably very confusing!
thats just what I think
blessed be! -mary
Most kids reach a point (sometimes as young as 6) when they want to keep some things to themselves. Usually this is harmless. I feel it's important to respect that desire for privacy. If it's bothering you, I feel it's better to tell the child that and ask some questions about whatever it is you would like to know, than to snoop behind child's back while allowing her to believe you are respecting her privacy. If you assume that because you don't know everything about your child, she must be hiding some wrongdoing, that is a very negative view of her.
Even when things look suspicious, if danger is not certain and immediate, I think other strategies should be used before snooping. For example, in the other thread (in Talk Amongst Ourselves) someone mentioned a 16yo sneaking out at night and taking the car and going out to do unknown things. My first approach to that situation would be to say, "Look, I know you are sneaking out at night. That worries me because I don't know what's happened to you when I thought you were home and I find out you're not. I don't go out without telling someone in the family, and I expect you to do the same. I'm also wondering why you want to go out so late at night. Where have you been going?" Then I would listen to what she had to say and try to negotiate a mutually acceptable solution.
If that didn't work--if she wouldn't talk about it or flatly refused to keep me any better informed of her whereabouts--then I would take her car keys away. If she can't use the car responsibly, she can't use it at all. That wouldn't necessarily stop the sneaking out (depends on where she's going) but it might, and it would serve as a natural consequence.
If the problem continued, I'd talk to her friends and/or their parents to try to find out where she's going. Then I would tell her what information I had collected and how, and the next step would depend on where she's going--I mean, my reaction would be very different if she's going to buy heroin than if she's studying owls.
If I couldn't get any info from friends, I'd drink a bunch of coffee and stay up all night and follow her if she didn't see me, or intercept her. Following would be more informative, but intercepting might startle her enough to change her attitude.
If that wasn't successful, I would stop and re-think whether to be concerned about her safety. Okay, she is sneaking out, and I'm not going to stop demanding that she show the same courtesy as the rest of the family and let us know when she is and isn't home...but is there any other sign of a problem? Is she acting weird or hostile other than when I confront her about sneaking out? Is she still doing well in school, keeping up w/activities, maintaining her responsibilities in the household? If she seems okay in every way other than sneaking out, I would assume that whatever she's up to is not harming her. I would continue to be alert for signs of trouble and continue to demand that she tell us when she is going out and when she expects to be back, but I would try to relax about where she is going.
It's only after all the above had failed AND there was a clear reason to be concerned about her safety that I would search her room, listen in on her phone calls, or read her e-mail. Why? Because all the above steps are related directly to the problem, whereas snooping may turn up private information that's unrelated and none of my business, such as her efforts at writing erotic fiction. Because I wouldn't be able to use the info gained from snooping unless I told her I'd snooped, in which case she'd likely be so furious w/me that we wouldn't be able to have a productive discussion. Because snooping violates her trust in me.
As a matter of fact, I did some sneaking out when I was 16. My parents found out about it and got as far as the first approach above. I explained that when I couldn't sleep, I enjoyed going out for a walk because there was no traffic and everything felt so peaceful. We went over safety practices (stay away from dark or overgrown areas where I could be ambushed, carry ID, etc.) and agreed that I would do this only on weeknights after 2am (when they felt I was less likely to be hit by a drunk driver) and that I would always leave a note in a particular location saying what time I went out and what time I would return. I really appreciated being allowed this freedom, and I always followed the rules. It's true that ONE of about 30 such excursions was coordinated w/my boyfriend and that we had sex (using 3 forms of protection) but otherwise I really was just out for a walk and not getting into anything improper. I think my parents' approach was much better than snooping thru my room, which wouldn't have turned up any info about what I was doing when I sneaked out but would've turned up many jotted-down private thoughts on various subjects that I would've been embarrassed to know they'd read out of context, and if I knew they'd snooped it would cause a permanent rift in our relationship.
Mama to a boy EnviroKid 9 years old and a new little girl EnviroBaby !
I write about parenting, environment, cooking, and more.
|Originally posted by EnviroBecca
[B]I think there's a difference between snooping because your teen isn't telling you everything, and snooping because there's some reason to believe she is involved in something dangerous.
..but is there any other sign of a problem? Is she acting weird or hostile other than when I confront her about sneaking out? Is she still doing well in school, keeping up w/activities, maintaining her responsibilities in the household? If she seems okay in every way other than sneaking out, I would assume that whatever she's up to is not harming her. I would continue to be alert for signs of trouble
When I was an early teen, my parents passed away. My uncle and aunt came to live with us. I was the eldest of the (now) six kids in our new family. My rules were 1) don't get killed and 2) don't get pregnant. Other than that, I was wide open. Some kids would run with that but for me I knew that I alone was responsible for me. I think I behaved better than if I had had lots of rules. I have never smoked a cigarette, done any drugs, broken any laws (I was told my license would be taken for a year - no questions asked/no excuses accepted - if I ever got any kind of moving violation). Drank twice in high school - two baby Millers was my big time. I was a very respectful kid, always on honor roll, babysat to make spending money. I think ALL kids rebel in some way - some big, some small. It is part of growing up and letting the world know you are YOU - independent of anyone else. My rebellion was 1) swearing (only in the company of friends, not around little kids or adults) and 2) dating "bad" boys. Oh, I loved the bad boys! But even that (though would be hard for parents to stand) was great for me as 1) it was so very, very fun and 2) got it out of my system and I ended up marrying a very "good" boy.
I would intervene in my kids private lives if I had reason to believe they were anorexic, involved with someone who was abusive, drinking (dh and I disagree on this one - he drank in HS and thinks it is a normal part of teen years - as I do about sex) or doing drugs, suicidal. ITA with EnviroBecca about are other aspects of their lives the same - school, family responsibilities, etc. then they are probably OK.
Sorry - this got long.
It is so important to develop those things which you value with children, today we are so...authoritarian(we as a society I mean, NOT US <gasp>) with our children, its like, do as I say not as I do, I wish there were more parents in my real face to face life like all yall .
At this age, that can be tough because of their need for to establish themselves as someone separate so sometimes they need to not tell us everything about who they are. Under normal circumstances, I would not violate my children's need for privacy but, because of that strong bond, I could not stand by and do nothing if there were signs that they were moving into crisis. However, just as when my toddler does something dangerous and my response is the quickest one possible, it may require some extra TLC after-the-fact, I respond to my older children in the same way.
Sometimes information comes to us unwittingly. My daughter had a friend whose mother went through her daughter's room and found written material that she couldn't cope with. She came over to talk about a concern that she had and immediately handed me a pile of letters that my daughter had written. Without thinking, I read them there (they contained references to drinking and some rather racey comments about boys). This mother expected me to respond as she had and ground my daughter - in fact, she grounded hers and told her she couldn't hang around my daughter anymore. What I told her was that I would talk to my daughter and then I saw her out.
Looking back, what I could have done differently was to say that I wouldn't read the letters, that they were private, that I would talk to my daughter and discover whatever she was willing to tell me. What I did do was tell dd that I was sorry, that I had made a mistake in reading the letters but, could we please talk about what was in them? The whole series of events, particularly the loss of her friend, was very traumatic for dd but I think she and I got through it OK.
It's all so tricky especially since they are swinging back and forth all the time. One minute they still want to read Dr. Seuss, the next they are planning a trip with their school class to some exotic location (one dd went to Spain and France this last summer - she stills sleeps with her goosy blanket.) It's OK, it's what they need to do and it means that our attachment parenting responses will probably do some swinging back and forth, too.
Sorry for the length of this...
There were two incidents when I was a teenager in which my parents got info on me from other parents who had snooped on their kids. Both times, my parents confronted me about the issue, and it was apparent that they knew something I hadn't told them, but they refused to reveal their sources. That totally shut down discussion, because I felt they didn't trust me and were keeping secrets from me. They insisted they hadn't snooped on me (true AFAIK) but wouldn't tell me what info they were working from! The second time, my mom finally told me after we'd had several fights about it, and then it turned out not to be as big a deal as they'd thought--my friend's mom had read an entire 4-page letter, taken a few sentences out of context, and told a friend of hers who told her husband who told my dad, so it was all twisted and blown out of proportion. The first time, my parents' sources remained a mystery to me until my uncle told me nearly a decade later, at which point MrBecca had to forcibly restrain me from getting on a plane to go choke my parents, because they had made things SO MUCH WORSE between us by refusing to be honest with me. If only they'd started those discussions with, "You know that we don't snoop in your things; however, your aunt has different beliefs and read a letter you wrote to your cousin and called to tell us about it, and now that we know, we need some explanation from you," we all would have been a lot better off. Loretta!
Mama to a boy EnviroKid 9 years old and a new little girl EnviroBaby !
I write about parenting, environment, cooking, and more.