A mom I know recently told me the story of her daughter and herself. As a single mom of just one girl, the two were incredibly close. My friend relied on her daughter to help out around the house and take care of her own responsibilities. And she was never disappointed. The two worked as a team to get dinner on the table, keep the house straight, and that all homework was done promptly and turned in on time. The two spent a lot of time together outside of school and work. The daughter talked often with her mom about problems she was having at school or with friends, when she thought a particular boy was cute – pretty much anything that crossed her mind. Jr. High came, which meant a new schedule at a new school, and new friends to meet. It’s interesting, things didn’t change overnight, as my friend remembers. But they did change rapidly. Her once sweet and kind daughter suddenly became sullen and angry. She stopped helping so much around the house. And the biggest change?
She stopped talking to her mother.
The daughter’s phone would buzz, and much like my own daughter recently, she would hunch over her phone so no one would see what she was typing to the mysterious receiver. My friend no longer had any idea who her daughter’s friends were, and if she asked she was dismissed by her daughter without any information given. Simple rules she was giving her daughter – from finishing household chores to being home right after school – were being broken right and left as her daughter stretched the boundaries to the limit.
My friend was at a loss. She didn’t know this girl anymore. As a working mom, she couldn’t be home to monitor everything that was going on in her own home, and she was starting to wonder if there might be things, now or in the near future, that she needed to be concerned about. So she did the only thing that she could think of. She took her daughter’s phone that night and read through every single one of her texts. What she found only made her feel bad.
The texts back and forth were basically one word texts, obviously just their way of staying in touch even in a minimal way. Some were with girls, some were with boys. There was no talk about drugs, or sex, or sneaking out, or anything that might be cause for alarm. My friend even found out through one of the text conversations that her daughter hadn’t even experienced her first kiss. Basically, even though her daughter had experienced a major attitude adjustment in the past few months and was no longer her mom’s little buddy, she was still the good girl that her mother had raised. And she had just violated her daughter’s trust by snooping through her phone when her daughter wasn’t even guilty of anything wrong.
What is your take on tween privacy? As the parent of a minor, is it ok to check up on them through their Facebook, cell phone, or some other means just to ensure that they aren’t doing anything illegal or dangerous? Or is this kind of snooping a total infringement on a tween’s rights to privacy? Do you “snoop”? Or is this a violation of your tween’s trust?
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From what I have seen and what I have experienced, if teens want to be bad, they will find a way. The best things a parent can do are give their children the information they need to make good decisions, and let their children know that they are there for them, if they need them. Teens are supposed to push the boundaries. It’s part of growing up — literally, a developmental stage. But doing so while having parents there to back them up makes it a safe step into adulthood.
My mom always had a standing policy that, any time of night, no matter what, if I was not at home and needed her to come pick me up, she would–whether I was sleeping over at a friend’s house or out at a party. It gave her peace of mind, knowing that I had a way to get home that I knew I could count on, and it gave me a safety net — I wasn’t a wild kid, so I didn’t call her more than once or twice, but it made us both feel better to know she would come get me if I really needed it. Other than that, I was given clear and honest information about S, D & RR, and trusted to make good decisions, and I mostly did. If I wanted and needed to talk, my mom was there, but if I didn’t, she let me keep my own counsel…and I always ended up coming to her eventually for a mom/daughter heart-to-heart about whatever was most important to me.