People I Want to Punch in the Throat: Why My Children Have No Right to Privacy

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Why My Children Have No Right to Privacy



My friend Kim at Let Me Start By Saying wrote an essay that was featured on the Huffington Post. It was about reading her five-year-old daughter's diary. Kim knew her daughter had been writing in her diary and Kim wondered what was going on in her daughter's head. She took the key and opened the book. She was apprehensive. She was worried she might find out that her daughter was sad or angry or hiding something. Instead, she found that her daughter was happy and loved her life. Kim wrote a sweet and endearing post about this experience and her relief to find her daughter happy and healthy.

Now, it's known that the Huffington Post has some of the meanest, angriest, trolliest commenters around. I always imagine many of them living in vans down by the river or licking Cheetos residue from their fingers while typing their raging opus in their mother's dark basements. Well, Kim struck a nerve with her post and got those vans and basements rattling with anger.

So many people came out screaming at Kim for "violating her daughter's privacy," for "betraying her trust," and flat out calling Kim a terrible mother.


All of the comments got me thinking.

If they thought Kim was a terrible mother, then I must be a HORRIBLE mother. I saw nothing wrong with what Kim did. A few people made the distinction that her daughter is only five, but if she were 15 then it would a be a violation, blah, blah. But I disagree.


I have been very clear in making sure my children have never even gotten the idea that they have a right to privacy in my home. Sure, my kids can bathe in private or close the doors to their bedrooms, but they cannot keep diaries locked away or drawers in their dressers off limits from me and the Hubs.

Why do we think that children deserve privacy? Why do we think that some how we're betraying our precious snowflake's trust by reading her text messages or his emails? I'm not betraying their trust, I'm parenting. They don't get to keep secrets from me. They don't get to leave this house without telling me where they're going, who they're going with, and when they will be back.

They can have an opinion and they can tell me my rules suck, but I really don't care. I have a job to do. My job is to raise them and to keep them safe and to make sure they're not entitled assholes.

Only entitled assholes demand a right to privacy. They're kids. They're not adults. Not even adults have complete freedom. I know I've had to pee in many a cup to get a job and I know that my emails were read and my phone conversations were monitored. That's just life.

My children will never have privacy. I am their mother. This is my house. I am determined to know everything that goes on under this roof. I'm not stupid enough to think that I will always know what's happening, there will be secrets they'll manage to keep, but I'm also not stupid enough to think my kids will just tell me everything that's going on in their lives. I have to be an active parent. I can't be lazy or complacent and just think my kids are good kids because they have decent grades and their friends seem OK.

You know why not? Because kids lie. All the time.

When my kids are teenagers, they will know that at any moment I can ask them to hand over their cell phones, laptops, whatever equipment they'll be carrying by then, so that I can see who they're talking to and what they're talking about. Can you imagine if those boys in Steubenville had parents who enforced this rule? Can you imagine getting your son's phone and seeing pictures of a girl being violated by him and his friends? Do you think those boys would have taken those pictures if they suspected their parents might see them? Do you think they would have uploaded videos to Youtube laughing at the victim and calling her names if they thought for a second their parents would access their Youtube accounts? I don't think they would. But I'm not surprised the Steubenville boys didn't have rules like these. Those kids were dicks and they had parents who enabled them and let them be dicks. My guess is, those kids had privacy. Those kids had parents who didn't want to betray their trust or invade their personal space. That's bullshit.

(Of course I'm not saying that every kid who is allowed privacy is going to be a rapist or an asshole, but your chances are pretty high. Good for you if you've raised a good kid who was also afforded privacy!)

A few weeks ago I had lunch with a friend who has a teenage daughter. My friend was upset because her freshman daughter had been caught sending inappropriate photos to a senior boy. The mother of the boy was doing her usual random search through her son's phone and came across the photos of a scantily clad young girl. She demanded to know who the girl was and her son told her. She tracked down my friend and told her about the photos of her daughter. The mothers agreed to delete the photos and punish the kids.

Can you imagine if the boy's mom didn't find that photo? Can you imagine if the boy decided for some reason to share the picture with the rest of their school? Girls are killing themselves because of photos like these.

Kids make dumb choices. They are not equipped to think about consequences. That's why we need to parent them. We need to be there guiding them and helping them and supervising them. And to me, that means no privacy.

What about their diaries? I will read their diaries and their journals and anything else they write. Too many kids struggle with depression, addiction, low self esteem, and more and a good place to find out about it is through their writings. I would rather violate their trust and read my child's journal and get them help than stand by with my head in the clouds hoping they'll tell me what's bothering them while they're contemplating their suicide.

Too many kids are hurting themselves and others because they're in pain and they need help. I can't stand by and just hope my kids will tell me what's bothering them.

So, their journals and texts and emails will be ours to read. Their drawers will be ours to search.

I do this, not because I'm running a police state or because I wrote the Patriot Act (as a brilliant HP commenter accused me of), but because I am responsible for them and I love them and I want guide them and help them.

I am all for kids learning through their mistakes, but I want those mistakes to be flunking a math test or getting a detention for too many tardies. I don't want the mistake to be sending a text message while driving and accidentally killing a child walking home from school. I don't want the mistake to be emailing naked photos to the captain of the football team and hoping he keeps those to himself. I don't want the mistake to be a child who is so depressed he hurts himself and/or his classmates. I love my children fiercely and I don't want to be that parent who says, "We had no idea she felt this way."

Maybe you think I am a terrible mother, but I really don't care.

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259 comments:

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Karisa Tells All said...

I have to disagree on reading kids' diaries. I see your point about searching drawers, phones, and computers, but to me, a diary is sacred. I kept a diary on and off throughout my childhood, and though I never wrote anything scandalous that my parents would have needed to know about (it was all about which boys I liked or what I did that day), I would have been so humiliated to find out my privacy had been breached. I credit my years of journal writing for my current love of writing and my career, but I definitely never would have started if I'd known my parents would be reading them.

Ashley said...

I grew up the same way. My mom told me never to write down anything I would not want someone else to know and she made it clear she read or looked through our stuff. There was no secretiveness about it she told us that was the way it would be and we believed her. I intend to be the same way.

I should also note my mom was not prone to histrionics and always acknowledged the things that were a normal part of growing up (making out with boys in movie theaters, sneaking out to parties,) but she ALWAYS found out what we were up to and if she didn't we always thought she would...

HypocriticalOath said...

"Kids make dumb choices. They are not equipped to think about consequences. That's why we need to parent them. We need to be there guiding them and helping them and supervising them. And to me, that means no privacy." I LOVE THIS - agree entirely. Thanks for posting.

HypocriticalOath said...

Also if more parents were like you maybe there would be fewer Newtown and Columbine massacres. Those parents were totally 'baffled' by their kids actions (well not Newtown as the mother died) but hello - you gotta be on top of this stuff. I have an infant daughter and the notion of her sexting in the future sickens me. But kids do not understand and they are too trusting, esp of their friends and boyfriends. Ugh. Anyway, people who say you are a bad parent are bad parents. And if they don't have kids they are just aholes.

Rachel said...

absolutely agreed - parents need to be parents, not pals, and I think that the whole privacy issue falls right in line with that. Thank you for sharing. :)


The other thing that I think has fallen to the wayside is 'because I said so' - true, there are times that it may be helpful to explain reasons behind things, but sometimes the rules are there because they are the rules. And if mom says that something needs to be done because she says it needs to be done, that should be it, end of discussion.


ps - totally love the blog btw, big fan. :)

Jennifer Krawiec said...

We used to tell my son that we access online transcripts of his texts. When he figured out that wasn't true, I just started reading his texts whenever he leaves his phone lying around which is always. He gets annoyed, however, he knows that we pay for the phone, we are concerned about him, and we have every right to know what is going on with him. He has "phone curfew" and we password protect everything on the computer. And incidentally, the one computer in the house is in the kitchen.
In short: Hells no, they don't get privacy.

scotty said...

Thanks for saying what so many are truly thinking. It's time parents took a stand and quit allowing the culture dictate how it thinks we should or should not raise our children. My child is mine and my wife's responsibility, not a school, government or church responsibility. You're awesome! Thanks for your blog!

crazyasnormal.com said...

I agree completely. You can have full privacy when you move out. It's not like I'm reading to say "Hey - why do hate me?" or "Oooooo - you love Joe!" - I'm reading it to find out that my son and Jamie drank beer behind Jamie's house and that when he hung out with Matt they had fun at the youth group meeting. SO, what I do say is this - next time he asks to hang out with Matt - I'll say sure. And next time he asks to spend the night with Jamie - I'll say No. And actually - the things you find out are things you know anyway. I didn't keep a diary but was flabbergasted upon a post-graduation chat with my mother about all the stuff I thought I was "spilling", that she already knew. And never addressed. She only intervened when it was hazardous to my health. And doggonit if that isn't the way I'm parenting. That sixth sense that parents have is awesome. :D

MadPiglet said...

I see what you're saying, but I think things are different now. The line between public and private is SO blurred these days, and kids don't seem to know that there are some things in life that do not need to be posted on Facebook.

I would argue that a happy, well-adjusted 14-year-old girl is NOT sending suggestive text photos to a boy who is basically an adult. That gulf between freshman and senior is just so, so, so wide. After all, if the senior is already 18, he could easily be charged with child pornography charges simply by having that photo on his phone.

I fully intend to be "that mom" who reads everything the kid produces. If my parents had gotten hold of my diary, I would have been pissed off and mortified, but they might have realized some of what was happening and maybe they would have done something about it. WeePiglet is only [almost] 7, but I can already tell that her burdens are heavier than mine were at that age. Some of her classmates already have Facebook accounts. Aaaaaaaand: No. Nope! Not in my house! Even when she does turn 13 and can *technically* sign up for it, I will be reading everything.

Just Another Day said...

I go through my son's phone all of the time as well as any other form of communication he is using. That is my job as his parent. Children do not have the right to privacy (with the exceptions you've noted above). I would much rather know something is happening in the early moments of the issue vs. it spiraling out of control and hurting either him or another child. I am always my children's parent first, their friend second.

Anonymous said...

Bravo! I totally agree. We take our kids phones at least once a week and read their messages and log in to their social media accounts. It's called parenting and it is the right thing to do. Keep up the Great Parenting!

yllekelly said...

I see your point here. And I do agree that we need to be ACTIVE in searching our kids things, phones, etc. to be aware of what is going on. I get that. And I also think it's important to make sure the kids KNOW that everything is fair game. That makes a difference, in my opinion. But I think I disagree here...

I am writing from a few places. First, I was 16 when I first realized my mom read my diary. I had drank some beers with some college guys, she got upset (understandably) and confronted me. But I lost all respect for her, since I saw journaling as therapeutic and an outlet for me. Our relationship wasn't restored until I was well into college, and could finally forgive her.

Second, I work with college students. And you won't believe how many kids I see go CRAZY in college because they've never tasted freedom. For the FIRST TIME in many of their lives, they can do what they want without Mommy or Daddy looking over their shoulders. Sadly, many of them make stupid choices.

So here's what I intend to do as a parent. I want to be clear on what is in my right to read, search, see...so there are no surprises when I come across something (don't want to repeat my mom's mistake). But I do think that kids should EARN their freedom and privacy as they get older and prove I can trust them. (Again, if I would find out they were drinking, for example, I would take away some of their freedoms/privacy until they proved themselves again). So maybe in high school, I'd stop reading their journals...and by the time they are a senior, they'd have privacy in their rooms. I hope that this would help them be responsible in their adulthood, because once they leave the house, they become an adult according to the world. I don't want them to go crazy in college because its their first taste of freedom. I want to be right there with them to walk through those mistakes, not hear about it on summer break.

Becky said...

My mother read my diary and then would confront me with things she didn't like that I had written.

I know now that my mother was and is mentally ill - and her lack of boundaries is why she read my dairies. And fucked me up for a long, long time.

So, no, I will not read my daughter's diary. She does have a right to privacy. In fact, we have had long discussions about how many of her friend's parents do not respect their privacy and as a result, the kids sneak around. By respecting her privacy, I have found she is far more forthcoming about things than if I were to violate her privacy.

ChiTown Girl said...

Holy hell, I couldn't have said it better myself!! I agree 110% with you. My son will be 20 this November, and you bet your ass I check his phone, email and Facebook regularly. And like Crazy said above, it has more to do with who he's associating with, than him, really. I know which one of his friends can be trusted, who's a partier, who takes stupid risks, etc. And, until he moves out on his own, this will continue. I won't apologize for looking out for my child's well-being. Ever.

GREAT post!

MamaLeahRocks said...

I check my son's Facebook almost as often as I check mine. If I see someone on his friends that I don't know, they get removed. His cell phone, which I pay for, is checked often. I am one of those parents that won't activate the texting abilities on his phone because then he could send and receive messages that just aren't right for a kid his age. If all of this makes me a bad mom that won't allow secrets, then so be it. I would rather my children view me as overprotective momma than the mom that didn't care enough to protect them from their own silly mistakes. We live in a tough world. 30 years ago, sneaking out to go to a party was kind of risky. You might get stopped by the cops or get grounded. These days, the outcome can be so much worse. The cost of a child's mistake has increased. I don't want my children to pay that price.

Anonymous said...

Thank You! As a 54 yr old mother who raised her kids to be decent, law abiding, compassionant adults, I applaud you! I had thought "parenting" had died with my generation. I snooped, I insisted on who, what, where, when. I read diaries, notes from boyfriends/girlfriends, talked to other parents, talk to teachers, listened to phone conversations, and when I thought I was being lied to, I spied on my kids. They knew I would be all in their "business" and they knew there was NO such thing as a right to privacy in my house. It's called parenting and if you're not going to do your job 24/7, don't have kids!

Teryl Laidlaw said...

I totally agree with you that it is OK to be on top of your children as long as they live with you, or hell live in the same state. I will always pretty much know what is happening with my boys who are now 21 yrs. and married and my 23 yrs. old who is living with me after being on his own for the last 3 yrs. I have always told them to just tell me the truth, cause a lie will get you in so much more trouble. So they did for the most part. Then when they were old enough to completely understand, I let them know that I would prefer to know the truth and have it hurt or disappoint me, then to be told a lie cause you can not trust me to be a good parent. To have some understanding of what your going through. I was once young too. They got it. But you know I may have been so different if I had girls. I don't think that girl, cause I am one, can be completely truthful to their parents. Boys just don't seem to give a damn, and girls, like me, were way to paranoid that it could be so devastatingly embarrassing.
So keep up the good work, stay involved and always be honest with your children. I today ask my boys, whether they live with me or not, whats up and watcha been doing! I always get a ear full. They love to evolve me in their lives and ask for advise, even if they don't use it, I give it. They have the right to tell me how they feel, but never the right to disrespect me or my husband or our home. Never! My husband and I have gained a lot of respect from our boys and many many of their friends. I have had to help some of their friends by letting the live with us for very Temporary time, just so that they could get moving on with life. They had parents who truly didn't care and where never involved. with their lives. Matter a fact those mothers had found other ways of living their lives, such as drugs or boyfriends that seemed to be more important then there kids. Dummies. I love all my boys, even the ones I didn't give birth to.

Erin said...

I completely 100% agree with you. I have 4 daughters aged 14,12 and 10 year old twins. The oldest two have phones that I randomly check. I have friends who disagree but I also have a friend who discovered her daughter was cutting by checking her phone. I also check the oldest FB and Instagram. There is time for privacy when they are old enough and paying their own bills. Until then my house and my rules.

MamaLeahRocks said...

I check my son's Facebook almost as often as I check mine. If I see someone on his friends that I don't know, they get removed. His cell phone, which I pay for, is checked often. I am one of those parents that won't activate the texting abilities on his phone because then he could send and receive messages that just aren't right for a kid his age. If all of this makes me a bad mom that won't allow secrets, then so be it. I would rather my children view me as overprotective momma than the mom that didn't care enough to protect them from their own silly mistakes. We live in a tough world. 30 years ago, sneaking out to go to a party was kind of risky. You might get stopped by the cops or get grounded. These days, the outcome can be so much worse. The cost of a child's mistake has increased. I don't want my children to pay that price.

Mom Rants and Comfy Pants said...

Agree wholeheartedly. My step-kids lived with my husband and me for most of their lives and thought they were being picked on because we wanted to know exactly what they were doing, where, when and with whom. My son is 14 today and knows that there is no such thing as a secret code to his safe or cell phone that I don't know. He's so used to it now that he pretty much hands things over to me periodically. And if his friends come here trying to pull a fast one, not only do they head on home but my son will not be hanging out at their home. Too many parents want to be "liked" by their kids. Guess what? You give them everything they want, including privacy, and they're still likely to say "I hate you" when they're mad. Goes with the territory.

Robbie said...

I would read my daughter's diary if I was worried about something other than that I would most likely let it be. I am sure there are going to be some days she absolutely hates me and wants the freedom to write it down. My child knows that I check grades on a daily basis, phones, ipods, computers will be checked regularly and if anything looks out out place. Like 5 text messages for the whole week...there will be explaining and consequences. I don't play, I have a low tolerance for bs and I hope that I have established that with my child. I will have no problem spying during sleepovers etc and plan to ban electronic devices when kids hang out in my house to keep the nonsense down.

April Holman said...

Agree, agree, agree! My children know that there is no place safe from mom's eyes and ears. They may only be 9 and 5, but if I enforce the expectation of no privacy now, they will not demand it at teenagers. When they get a Facebook page, guess who their first friend will be? Guess who will follow them on Twitter? I hope that my daughter (who got her first diary two weeks ago) doesn't feel violated, because after all, I love her and will protect and support her, affirm her dreams and ambitions, help her through her struggles, and keep private what needs to be kept private. But even if she does feel that it is a violation of her privacy, it won't stop me. I won't blab to the world her secrets, but I will know what is going on with her and what I can do to help her grow into a mature and well adjusted adult. That is my job and I take it seriously.

Kelli Nash said...

This is a great post, Jen! I read the original post by Kim and didn't see anything wrong with reading your child's diary. I agree with you 100%!

Anonymous said...

You just keep on reading and snooping and finding things out Mom. If my own mom would have read some of my writings, I may have gotten the help that I definitely needed and not become a teenage alcoholic. My daughter fought me tooth and nail for her privacy, but I refused to give in and we're both glad now that I did. It probably saved her life. I know how awful it sounds and even feels sometimes, especially when you find things out that you never wanted to know. But in the long run ... knowing is better and safer. Stick to your guns and protect and guide your kids, no matter what anyone says.

Granny K said...

Aside from your relationship with your mom, did you stop drinking beer in HS or just learn to hide it better?

Jen said...

Forget Elf on the Shelf...THIS is your best blog entry EVER! I could not agree more. Well Done Jen!!

Granny K said...

I don't have kids, but everything I know I've learned from stand up comedy:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kqxtaJfH7UA

Jen Piwtpitt said...

I completely agree with the crazy college thing. I have to find a way to balance it so that my kids have some freedoms so that they don't go off the rails in college.

L. Shanna said...

I respectfully disagree. I certainly see your point, particularly where social media is concerned, but a personal diary is something different. Unless there is some sort of extenuating circumstance (the child seems extremely depressed or suicidal), I don't see how reading her diary does anything other than instill distrust. Social media is different, and should be treated as such. I completely agree that Facebook and cell phones should be closely monitored, and I will absolutely do that for my children. But their personal thoughts in their journals will remain theirs, until they're ready and willing to share them with me.

yllekelly said...

Just hid drinking beer. I had a rebellious streak (still do), but the trust issue with my mom only furthered my need to escape. (alcohol, eating disorder, marijuana)...But in college I found a great Christian group and my life turned around. So there's hope even for the rebellious ones!

coolfamilyblog said...

I love this! And I agree with you. My mom used to read my diary and it didn't bother me, then again I didn't have anything to hide. My sister used to hide everything and lie and sneak out and we never knew where she was or what she was doing...but she always left a paper trail behind her. God only knows how much more trouble she could've gotten into if my mom didn't invade her privacy.

Stephanie M. Clarkson said...

I had no problem with her reading the diary; that's a mother's job to do when she needs to, discretely.

I stopped the person who was reading the article to me yesterday. Posting it to the Huffington Post was the part I thought was incredibly offensive, and what that little girl had written in her diary was absolutely *not* my business.

Lucky Mama (Little Rock Mamas) said...

Some really good food for thought in this post and comments. My sister keeps pretty close tabs on her 16-year-old son. He is on Facebook, but he has had to friend his mom and all of his aunts. He knows flat out that if we see him doing something inappropriate, we're going to call him on it. His cellphone gets checked and for years his computer in his room didn't have Internet on it. I'm not sure if that is still the case.
I plan to do the same with my child (she's 3).
I have mixed emotions when it comes to the diary thing. On one hand, I see what you're saying about no right to privacy in your house. I also see what your critics are saying about a diary being different from a text message or email.
I think I will communicate to my child that nothing is off limits for mom and dad to check. But I will probably leave her diary be unless I have a reason to check it. But her cellphone -- oh, I'll be checking that regularly.

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with the "newfound freedom" issue. I, too, had an overbearing mother who just HAD to know what was going on in my life at every waking moment. She never let me have a life, so my diaries were full of celebrity crushes and school day daydreams. She would use them against me in any way that she could, and we didn't have a good relationship to begin with. Now that I am an adult and have a family of my own, I started journaling again to help me through my bad marriage and divorce. That journal may end up helping my side of the situation in convincing the judge that my ex isn't the angel he portrays himself as. I have allowed my oldest son to keep a journal, since having one myself helped me to sort out what was going on and come up with ways to deal with it. My journal has been better than going to a psychologist! I never had an adult whom I could talk to and trust. I am glad that my son has one, and he does talk to me. A parent doesn't need a journal to snoop in to know their kids. Spend time with them, learn their quarks and mannerisms, and when something does change, you'll notice it before the need to snoop arises.

bebe1970 said...

I am with you! In fact - I joined instagram just to keep an eye on my kid and my id is "Iamwatchingyoukid!" I think she gets the picture.

Kim at Let Me Start By Saying said...

Thanks for having my back, sister!

I do kind of get why people are stoning me on the internet right now: they want to protect my 5yo daughter from feeling whatever pain they felt at some point at a breach of privacy they experienced at some point in their lives. Which (if you can pretend they aren't using very mean words to get their point across) is nice. My kid is awesome - she deserves protection.

However, my kids know this: I will know as much as I can about them, because it is my job. I love them more than anyone else. I will withhold judgement on the stuff that isn't hurting anyone, but I WILL know as much as possible. They already know that I talk to their teachers, their friends' parents. I monitor what they watch on TV, what they do on any device that has the WiFi turned on, and will be their silent "friend" on all of their social media accounts once they are old enough to have them. I am their mother. I will hold this information to myself, or share it with their dad, no one else. Knowing that I am quietly watching will hopefully help my kids make better decisions, and allow them to reach out to me more directly when something bigger happens, for I will already have some background information and context in which to frame the news they have to give me.

My article on HuffPostParents is approved by my daughter. She even took more pictures of her other diary today, which I won't share because I don't need any more angry mobs coming my way. The pages were used on the up-and-up to share an important lesson: that joy the joy of childhood is simple and infectious. How it ended up becoming a shitstorm of anger towards me, is pretty surprising.

Anonymous said...

As a 30 year old product of parents of your generation, THANK YOU for parenting us this way. If/when I have kids, I intend to follow the "mean mom" example that made us who we are.
Parents today - take heed! It's a far more dangerous world we live in nowadays. You must fight for your kids lives and if you think that's dramatic - wake up! Know what your kids are doing.

Ksquared said...

My daughter is 5. There are no secrets and there shouldn't be at this age. She is young and impressionable-another adult may ask her to keep a secret that isn't safe for her to keep. She should know that there are no secrets. When she gets older I will review the no secrets policy with her and we will adjust as needed.

I too kept a journal throughout childhood and even still today. But when I was a kid you better believe my mother kept the right to check up on me. Parents these days are too concerned over the "rights" of their children-they are children. Accept it, get over it. Move on.

When your kid gets screwed up, ends up in jail, on drugs or pregenant you will look back and say "I don't know how I missed this"...well because you were too worried over hurting their feelings, or making them mad.

Start being parents and not friends.

Anonymous said...

I 100% agree. My kids are still young (4 and 8), and the older one got an ipod for Christmas. She skypes with her cousins in Massachusetts and with a good friend in Ohio. And last week, she figured out how to enable a passcode on her ipod.

When confronted with "Enter Passcode", I asked her to give me the code. She refused. I then pocketed the ipod, walked outside, put it in the glovebox of my car, and locked the car, while she howled the whole time to get it back.

Two hours later, I brought the ipod back in and went back into her room.

"What's the passcode?"
"1477."

I then proceeded to explain to her that at her age, she does not have any reasonable expectation of privacy in my house. That I get to read her messages. That I get to read her emails. And that I don't feel the slightest bit bad about doing it.

"When will you stop doing that?"
"When you move out."

Bravo, Jen. Hit the nail on the head.

Anonymous said...

Couldn't agree more! I just had this discussion with my 9-year-old son yesterday. I reminded him that nothing in this house is truly his and that at any point his room/bag is subject to search and seizure. Mean mom? Don't care. When he's working and paying the bills on his own stuff, then he can have privacy. Until then, my house, my rules.

Anonymous said...

Amen! I did the same thing, but my mother was very vengeful about her confrontations. She would do her best to discourage me from writing, and would destroy my room while I was at school to find it and read it. I never trusted her enough to tell her anything. Luckily, my life was so boring and uneventful that nothing worth knowing ever happened. I was never allowed to go anywhere, do anything, and if I wanted to, I had to beg.....sometimes for weeks! She hated (and still hates) that I've always had plans to have a better life than what I had as a sheltered child, and she would try to be like the evil mother in Tangled and convince me that the world was some evil place and that I should hide myself away from it in her home for the rest of my life. I spent 4 years of college experiencing life for the first time. Didn't make a bunch of bad decisions, but didn't make some really great ones, either. I had to live life to learn about life and learn to not be suspicious of everyone. My son knows that he can talk to me about anything, and his journal helps him to put things into words before he says them. I have yet to be tempted to read his journal...it's his thoughts/plans/dreams, and when he feels he can tell me, he does.

lovingnana said...

I totally agree 100% I asked my kids several times why they thought they deserved privacy? As parents we have a responsibility to be just that. I used to tell my children, you never know when i am going to be checking up on you. I went to the movies to make sure they were where they said they were going to be. I made sure they knew I was there .. i didnt sneak in and out. Just long enough to be discovered then i left. I didnt have to do this all the time, just ever so often to let them know i would be watching. This happened only becuz they had lied to me once. I told them after that I had the right to check up on them since I knew they would lie to get to do what they wanted. I feel as a mother i needed to keep my kids safe. Today as adults they have told me they couldn't believe the things they did as kids. And now fear for their own kids. Things they didnt agree as children they now totally agree with. My kids pulled kids things. They said their turning point to making the right decisions were made a lot of the times knowing that might be the 1 time i would show up to check on them. Ever hear of tough love? Kids need discipline they know it. children need to be treated with love and know they are loved. I remember telling my children several times . "Just becasue I am mad at you doesn't mean I DONT LOVE YOU".. they might be mad or even think they hated me at the time. but they knew after a day or two that i was right. They also need be held accountable for their actions. good or bad. Sometimes they need to tell their friends I CAN'T OR MY PARENTS WILL FIND OUT.. And believe it. I was a strick parent but fair . If for some reason my kids were grounded. I would negotiate their time by extra things they would do as far as chores around the house to shorten their time. (something most kids hate to do) They had their regular jobs but extra would almost be their undoing. If they didnt want to do it I wouldnt push it but most of the groundings covered a weekend. The closer it got to a weekend the more they changed their minds to take the task on and get ungrounded.
I am very proud of how my children turned out. One is a Police officer and one in a Excutive for a large well known company.

fishducky said...

THIS SHOULD BE REQUIRED READING FOR PARENTS!!!!

Tara said...

LOVE LOVE LOVE this! When I was in highschool and had gotten pretty great at lying to my mom she found my diaries and shut my life down! Did I hate her? Hell yes I did but I couldn't be more appreciative of her efforts now because I see the road that I would have headed down and she saved me from that. My daughter is 5 so she doesn't have diaries or a phone yet but when she does.....

Anonymous said...

This is for you and the 54-yr-old mother commenting after you...While your intentions are good, being overprotective can actually hurt your relationship with your children. My mother was "overprotective" even after I moved out and was married. She didn't want me to live my life, she wanted me to live the life SHE wanted for me. If I had chosen that life, I'd still be a frumpy, uneducated, burden on society instead of a hard-working, fun-loving mom to all of my kids. Nowadays, because some parents are taking it too far, kids are sneaking out and doing more dangerous stuff than we did as kids. My cousins have better relationships with their parents because their parents didn't hover like swarming bees. They were allowed to live. My cousins are doing very well for themselves and actually enjoy visiting their parents, whereas I stopped quite a while ago because even around the rest of my family, my mother insisted on being overbearing...and I'm 36!

Daina Higley said...

Ya did good.

Things That Happen Everyday said...

Let me start by saying I applaud people like you. More parents need to be like you. I am one of them. There is no privacy in my home. MY HOME, MY RULES. I could go on and on about everything but you wrote everything I would say. Thank you for writing this and I hope that more parents realize that they're not violating their kids privacy they are parenting them and hoping that they grow up to be good and productive members of society.

Anonymous said...

Agreed! "personal" is just that..."personal". You don't share YOUR personal information with everyone, hence.......if Sally likes Johnny down the street, let her have her childhood fantasies...otherwise, you may be crushing her need to dream big for herself!

lovingnana said...

Exactly!! I commend you! I always told my children . This is my house you are here to enjoy it while you live here . When you get older and have your own things you can do what YOU want!

MamaLeahRocks said...

My children are allowed to live and make their own decisions. My older child knows a lot of the crazy stuff I did as a kid, and I tell him so he knows that no one is perfect, that we all make mistakes, and the only ones that I am protecting him from are ones that could change him forever (creepy pedophiles love the internet, and horrible words said to people online can never be taken back). I get what you are saying, but you have no idea what my relationship with my children is like. Just because I don't let him go free online doesn't mean he has no freedom. Just because I keep my son from talking to the perv that asked him for pictures of himself and wanted to know what school he goes to doesn't mean I am overbearing. You are taking your personal experience and applying it to relationships that are not like the one you had with your mother. I stand by my mothering skills. And, just so you know, I try not to tell people I do not know that they aren't doing things the right way for their family. Because that shit is just RUDE!

Shevaun said...

Just want to add my 2 cents,I am with you 100%.

Natasha Metzler said...

I think one of the keys here is that the kids need to KNOW that you will read/check anything they write or receive.

My mom never read my diary (that I know of) but I knew that she COULD. She never went through my email account but I still turned in my password to her.

If my mother had come to me with something from one of my journals, I wouldn't have been shocked. I knew it was a possibility.

And I think that makes the difference between a Mom "snooping" and parent's simply having an "open book" rule.

Anonymous said...

i think the key is letting your children know they should expect that this is going to happen - and WHY. i like what ashley's mom told her about not writing down anything she wouldn't want others to know AND making it clear she read/looked thru their stuff. then it's not any kind of "violation of privacy" - you've been warned.

Confessions of a PTO Mom said...

If they think it, write it, speak it in my house, it's open to be talked about.

Anonymous said...

I see both sides of the spectrum, but I'm more apt to take your side. My kids live in a crazy, dangerous world. I am going to take every opportunity I have to keep them safe...even if they might be unhappy with me from time to time. I will check phones, computers, i-Pads...everything. Frequently. I will even check diaries but I see myself gradually letting my kids earn some privacy as they prove their responsibility and maturity. A five year old does not need privacy. A 16 year old might. However, those motherly instincts will come to play and I'll reserve to right to check diaries if I feel my child might be in danger from themselves or others.

Kristin said...

Jen, this is probably my favorite post of yours EVER. Forget the elf on the shelf. Forget the rest. This was brilliant.

suchamama said...

YES! And when are they going to invent phones that allow parents to read every text, see every photo and listen to every call? My kids are not getting phones until they do!

MamaLeahRocks said...

Thank you! We have a no secret policy in our house, and it has brought my son and I so much closer. I was hospitalized when I was in 11th grade. I passed out at school due to lack of nourishment. The doctor told my mom I was anorexic and suicidal. My mom kind of laughed, and said I wasn't. He sat down with her, showed her how much weight I had lost in 4 months, and the fact that my body was covered in weird bruises and cuts. My parents treated it like a phase, and that it was something I could work through on my own. 2 years later, I was in a rehab for IV drug users. I am healthy and sober now, but I am lucky to be alive. And all my parents would have had to do to find out what I was doing, and why I hurt so bad, was read my journal. My parents loved me, but they didn't know how to handle it because they gave me more privacy than a developing mind and body needs.

Kassie Witters said...

Thank you for this post! It's helpful to know I am not the only mom who believes in this type of parenting these days. I told my daughters (20 & 14) from day one that this is MY HOUSE and MY RULES! I agree with you & Kim 100%! Thanks again!

Deborah said...

AMEN, Sister!!!!!

Kris at AintNobodysMama said...

FANTASTIC! Your kids are aware that you may look at anything they do, so there is no perception of privacy. I think that is excellent training for life because I bet they will think twice before they text, post or email, too. More people should be so careful!

crazyassmomma said...

i think youre awesome & i agree 110%!
im the same kind of mom!

WittyBubble said...

It is so refreshing to see another parent that feels this way. Privacy is not a right, it's a privilege. Parents and kids both need to learn the difference between rights and privileges so we can raise fewer assholes.

WittyBubble said...

Right! With my four year old, it's "because I'm Mommy and that means I'm the boss." End of discussion.

SandraT said...

I agree with you, Karisa. I can understand that parents would want to and possibly should read their child's diary if they had reason for concern, for example the child has become withdrawn or is acting 'weird' and talking isn't working, but if your child is just a 'normal' and happy child, I don't see a reason to snoop.

J A said...

I agree. We don't look at my 15-year-old stepdaughter's cell phone or tablet often, but she knows full well that if her dad wants to look at her texts, etc., he reserves the right to do so.

We did promise her that she is allowed to keep a journal here that we will never look at (unless we have SERIOUS reason to do so). Not an online blog, a paper journal. That was sort of a reaction to her having zero privacy at her mom's house... The door to her room was removed, despite her being a teenager and living with her stepfather. To the best of my knowledge, there was no reason for doing this other than her mother wanting to see what she's up to at all times. That is so wrong, in my opinion, and we want to provide an environment where she can have some things that are just for her. She really seems to be a good kid, and if she wants to call us horrible names because we wouldn't let her buy a movie on Pay-Par-View or something, so what? I also have an understanding with her that if she ever tells me anything that she doesn't want me to share with her dad, I won't, unless it's something drastic (ongoing drug use, pregnancy, that sort of thing).

It's also for our sake... We would very much like full custody of her, and it might be tempting to use her journal in court. Things at her mom's house are very bad, but using her diary would just be unfair.

Noelle said...

THIS! My girl is 13. She does not have a cell phone because she doesn't think about the consequences of her actions. She has no scandalous pics on her facebook because I keep an eye on that to the point of knowing her password and checking it at LEAST every other day. I also ban any of her "friends" who talk about sex, have "sexy" pictures, etc. If she says she's walking to a friends house, I call the parents to make sure that's where she's going. She has no short shorts or skimpy tops because I don't allow those in my home.

Am I overprotective? Possibly. But she's got a healthy respect for her body, knows she can count on me and, in general, is a good kid who talks to me. I figure for a 13 year old girl, that's not bad!

Anonymous said...

You've got to remember, most of the pissed off commentors had no big mother watching them and that's why they're still in their mom's basement. Stupid liberals have no business ever thinking about raising kids.

San Diego Farmgirl said...

I'm so conflicted on this issue. On the one hand, as a parent, of course I want to guide my child to adulthood as best I can, which includes a little prying into his private thoughts to make sure everything is okay. But on the other hand, my parents gave me no privacy whatsoever, even though I was a good kid who never got into trouble. And because of it, as soon as that diploma hit my hands at age 17, I left their home and never returned. I don't want that for my son, either.

SandraT said...

Really? Should I just assume that every child is a potential mass murderer and read through their intimate thoughts? Maybe I should read my husband's mail or emails too in case he's a secret killer..?

WittyBubble said...

There is a big difference between an actively involved "overprotective" parent and one that is mentally ill. Anon, I'm sorry your mom was sick, but that doesn't mean the rest of the world should cater to their kids and treat them like royalty. Children need boundaries and consequences.

Kimbra said...

I totally agree, my children who are currently 12 & 13 have absolutely no privacy when it comes to cell phones, computers, journals, etc. I totally understand where you are coming from and agree it is parenting because we love our children and want to know what is going on in their lives. I can remember my mom reading my journal and I hated it, but because she did she knew when I was in trouble and needed her most, now that I am an adult I am glad I had a "nosey mom" because without her there is no telling where I would have ended up. Sure my kids think I am mean, or nosey now but I hope that one day they will see the things I do as an adult. We have already ran into some scary chat room issues with one child, and it horrifies me to think what could have happened had I not been a nosey mom.
www.mommysrambles.blogspot.com

mgcg said...

Kids who are forbidden to have secrets just get better at keeping them. As my own father used to say, "kids need to get away with little things, so they don't feel the need to get away with big things." While I fully agree that anything public or quasi-public--social media and texting in particular--is fair game, and we have an increased obligation in that area to know what our children are up to, denying them the courtesy of some basic privacy (a diary, personal correspondence) goes too far.

Our children are not our possessions, they are individual valid humans entitled to the opportunity to build respect and trust as they get older. Spying on them to slap their hands at every opportunity does not teach them responsibility, and does not afford them the opportunity to make choices because they are right instead of just to avoid getting in trouble.

An earlier poster mentioned the kids who go insane in college because they have never been out from under their parents' thumbs, and I have seen so much of that. I was one of the only freshmen I knew with a high GPA in the first quarter of college, because I was used to having my personal life and grades be my own responsibility by the time I graduated high school. I did have a curfew and my parents insisted on knowing all of my friends, but I also strove to live up to the respect and trust my parents gave me at age-appropriate increments. I plan to do the same with my daughter as she grows up (while I split cell phone costs with her, confiscate the phone at 8pm every night, and forbid internet access in the bedroom).

I applaud every effort made to protect our children, and understand how scary it all can be, and the awesome responsibility we have. But I do hope we can find room in that responsibility to extend courtesy, respect, and trust to our children as we prepare them to go into the world and stand on their own feet.

Jen @ Complete Jensanity said...

Eaxctly. Raised right, as we'd say in the south.

Diane, Kate said...

As a 17 year old that has a wonderful mother.. She's never been one to look through my journals, because that's my business and writing is a passion of mine. Also, me and my parents are best friends. We talk every day and are very open to each other. I believe that if my mom had been rifling through my personal things (journals, phone, etc.) I would keep so much more from her, and it would've ruined the relationship that we have now. I believe parents should develop that trust, not root around and figure it out for yourself.
Love you, Jen. Just wanted to put in my view of the issue!

Mosaicwench said...

I installed a key logger on my (then adolescent) son's computer. I told him it was there and he could proceed at his own risk. I checked it randomly; I wanted to know if he was surfing porn, or getting in over his head into anything, or just checking up on him. I also randomly checked his phone and texts. I paid for the computer, the phone, the internet service, and this roof over his head. It's the right thing to do to know what your child is saying and doing in cyberspace and texts.

When I was a kid (in the stone age) a mother could check with other mothers to see what the kids were up to and who they were hanging with. Now other aware mothers are scarce and a lot simply don't care enough to monitor their own children, much less yours.

My baby is now 21 and has his own computer and internet and phone and is away at college. He has earned the right to his privacy now.

My house, my rules, and there's the door if you don't care for them. I'll bet foster care is just peachy.

Anonymous said...

The way I see it is when I was a kid I had no privacy because cell phones, texting, the internet, tablets, laptops, etc. DID NOT EXIST. When I was on the phone, I had to TALK. In the kitchen (or stretch the cord all the way to the closet and get yelled at for creating a tripping hazard), where I could be overheard. I had no extension in my room until I was in college and home from the summer, and I sure as hell didn't have my own phone line!

Just because all this technology exists and lends itself to "privacy" doesn't mean my kids get the privacy. Their conversations with friends are as exposed as mine were--the only difference is I have to go find them. My mom could just sit in the other room pretending to read and listen to everything.

Technology changed, parenting didn't.

A diary, however, could be different. Like others have said, know your kid. If you are reading/watching everything else, you'll know if you should spot check the diary, too.

But chances are (and I say this as a therapist who works with teens), if they are taking the time to WRITE in a diary, it's important to them and it should be respected. Maybe it's creative musings. Maybe it's an outlet. But they are far more inclined to drop hints about risky behaviors on FB, instagram, etc, then they are to write it all out.

So, my advice to parents on this is to watch everything like a hawk, and let it be known that a diary/journal could be subpoenaed just like a cell phone. But for the most part, don't be sneaky about reading it. Be upfront that it *could* happen. And do so with the promise that conversations resulting from reading will be handled calmly and with concern, since this is the reason for reading in the first place.

IF you are a parent that struggles with "teen behaviors" and wonders where the line of "normal" is, get some support around that. You don't have to like every choice your teen makes, but if that choice isn't dangerous, illegal, or against your values and rules, let it go.

Anonymous said...

"Stupid liberals have no business ever thinking about raising kids."

Wow, that's necessarily inflammatory and doesn't help the issue.

Jen @ Complete Jensanity said...

that's pretty funny and awesome!

Anonymous said...

This..THIS is why I too will be the Big Mother watching. Good for you Anon, for doing what you knew was the right thing and not letting the cycle repeat itself!

lspence said...

I partially agree with you. My issue is, no matter how good you are at monitoring your kids rooms, journals, devices, they will always be better at keeping things hidden from you. Back in the 80's M.TV. was considered sexual, offensive, and dangerous for children. My mother blocked the channel. My brother and I wired the receiver through the VCR and watched it anyways. My mother confiscated some of our cassette tapes after she learned how sexual and violent some of the lyrics were. My brother and I had friends copy the tapes over "acceptable" tapes. Kids today will have 2 e-mail accounts, one that their parents monitor and the one you don't know about. The same goes for Facebook. You can by a cell phone with prepaid talk and texting and a camera at any gas station for 15 bucks. My 12 year old nephew knows how to disable software designed to monitor all activity on a computer.I agree with you that kids have no "rights" to privacy until they are on their own but I worry about parents who think that monitoring their kids in this way can replace ongoing honest communication about issues. It can't. BTW, I am a living example of someone who had overprotective parents and then LOST IT when I got to college. I had no idea how to make safe responsible choices for myself because I was never given that opportunity. Thank God I never got seriously hurt or in trouble.

Jenn said...

I have been reading your blog for some time now and don't usually comment, but I must comment on this...HOORAY FOR YOU!!!!! You are a responsible parent and I applaud you! I also have all of the passwords to my son's social media and he knows that I can/will check it randomly. He is about to turn 16 and if I asked him for his cell phone right this minute, he wouldn't even think twice before handing it right over and even showing me how to access something. We need to be involved as parents. There is a reason that people can't make major decisions until they're 18....they need guidance. I'm not sure if you read all of your comments (if you do, WOW, more applause), but I hope you don't take the negative ones to heart and keep right on parenting!

Deann Salazar said...

This one kind of has me conflicted. I think because to me (and just by perception) is that it comes across angry. I COMPLETELY agree that it's a parents job to protect their kids and know what's happening in their life. When it comes to social media my view is that if you're sharing crap with the world (rather through Facebook, tweets, texts, snapshot, crap I don't even know exists yet) then it's open season and I need to see it too.

But-the journal is where I come up short. A journal is where you share your inner most thoughts, dreams, hurts that you would be embarrassed to share with others. It's the place you vent or cry or privately celebrate something very personal. Having someone read my journal, to me, would be the equivalent of having someone watch me undress. Short of suspecting a serious problem where I was at my wits end and thought I had no other way to connect with my son and that harm was going to come to him, I don't think I could bring myself to cross that line.

And I think that's where I come back to the angry side of this article. Saying that kids have absolutely no expectation of privacy is a very strong statement. You do clarify that they can dress and bath privately so obviously there is some privacy expectations but that gets a little lost. Yes they are just kids but thee are still trust issues and choice issues there that I don't think come across in your writing. Yes, as an adult you had to pee in a cup to get a job, but as an adult you felt safe in deciding whether or not that was something you were willing to do for a job. I sound like I'm coming across as a hippie dippie parent which is very far from the truth but I felt like your article pushed me into that corner while trying to understand your position (no flames intended just trying to share a calm reaction).

I think it's about balance in parenting, which from all your other blogs you totally clearly have so maybe it was just i had a strong reaction to or maybe your writing also reflected some of the defensive side that those trolls at huff post bring out from underneath their rocks. Parenting is about finding that line and having to cross back and forth over it while you try to find the approach that works for your kids. (Fuck, I wrote a lot. Sorry for hogging your comment section)

Mary said...

I have to say that I agree with you. My parents nosed into my business, and they found out that I was suicidal. If they hadnt been nosey, I might not be here right now. AND, look at the way so many kids act these days. You cant just get into an argument, or a fist fight anymore. Kids are killing each other. They're getting worse every day!!! Maybe if the boy who killed all those people at the movie theater, had had his stuff nosed into, his parents would have known they were raising a psychopath, and could have gotten him some help. I dont know, I dont see anything wrong with it. And if theyre not doing anything wrong, than it shouldnt be an issue

Anonymous said...

Technically speaking, the only right to privacy we have is from the government. So, therefore, children DO NOT have the right to privacy from their parents....You're the perfect parent. Don't change. One of these days you child will come to you and tell you that they love you and that you were right all along...Keep setting that great example!

J A said...

EXACTLY! We keep close tabs on my stepdaughter's Facebooking and she knows that her dad has the ability to go online and see all of her text messages, even ones deleted out of her phone, any time he wants to (there's an app for that!). But we leave her paper journal alone. If she wants to write "My stepmom is a f***ing b***h," she can do so without worrying about me seeing it. Kids get angry and want to say horrible things, and they should have a space to do so without consequences. It's a lot cheaper than therapy.

Marinka said...

"Only entitled assholes demand a right to privacy"? Wow, do I disagree.

I think everyone is entitled to a right to privacy, including children. I don't think it's absolute, and I think it should vary according to age, the person, other things going on, but to say "no right to privacy" doesn't resonate well with me.

I have no interest in telling anyone how to parent and I come from a place of assuming that we're all doing what we consider the best for our families and children. But one thing I know is that everyone seeks out privacy. And if a mom is reading her teenage daughter's diary, you better believe that daughter has a secondary real diary that the mom doesn't even suspect exists.

Anonymous said...

Yes to all this!

There was no privacy when I was a teen. And we knew that, and we accepted it. I took away my child's(under 10) door a week or so ago as a reminder that he is not to hide from me. That he is part of this family.

I cant see going and reading his journal allt he time but he will know that it *could* happen. And the could would be becuase of something pointing me to that. Phone, ipod etc (when he gets them) will be for MY convinence. He will know that at any moment they can and will be looked it.

When the door went back, it was after a dicsussion about why I do what I do with/for him. "becuase you love me Mama, I know. I just dont like how you love me sometimes" I know kid...I just pray that in 20 years you'll get it too :)

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with what you wrote. But, I read the article on Huffpo and my first thought was that I couldn't believe she posted photos of the diary. A child can't always expect privacy from a parent, but does that mean that private thoughts should be declared to the world? The author had concerns about what her daughter was writing, she found out that she didn't need to be concerned, end of story. Share it with the child's father, fine. But the entire internet? I think that is a violation of privacy.

J A said...

The one time my husband peeped my stepdaughter's diary, she was about 7. She had written a whole entry about how much she looked up to her stepmom, the liar. She said she might want to be a liar herself one day, because of my example. My husband about pissed himself laughing. Gratified as I was that she thought so highly of me, we did find a way to subtly let her know that it is l-a-w-y-e-r.

Anonymous said...

i am the mother of 2 teens and i read this post punctuated with "yes! right on! go! absolutely!" coming from my brain as i scrolled through. you are 100% right! i am also a teacher and have been absolutley stunned to see what parents are "okay" with letting their kids do and/or have, especially in regards to technology. adults need to stand firm and be their children's parent, not their friend. of course, use judgement.. you don't have to rule like an iron-douche-ramrod. but for all the reasons you've stated.... privacy in this situation is NOT for kids. you go lady!

Julie Workman said...

I'm an equally horrible mother. To the extent that, when we moved into this house I did not notice there was a privacy lock on my older (8) son's bedroom door. He got a warning the first time he locked it. The second time, he lost his door for a week.

There is no reason in the world for kids to have secrets from their parents as long as they are living under the parents' roof. I endeavor to teach my boys that they can come to me with ANYTHING. That I won't judge. I may be disappointed, but I won't get mad. I may raise my voice, but I will never stop loving them. So far, so good. To the point that they came to us after they were molested by an older child.

If you are secure in your role as the PARENT, then they will follow your direction. If you try to be a FRIEND, you've failed your most important job. They don't have to like you, but they will always love you, discipline, embarassment, humiliation and all.

Anonymous said...

Great conversation! Thought provoking and helpful :) I have a teenager who will soon go off to college. I am a "helicopter" parent to a certain extent but this particular kid has never shown that I can NOT trust him. He got an amazing college scholarship, comes home when I ask (notice I said "ask" him rather than "tell" him- which wasn't always the case)and knows that I am his facebook "friend" but don't routinely post on his wall or become too involved in the dialogue there. Sometimes I send him f/b messages so as to not embarrass him but also to remind him that I AM on there. I may comment that so-and-so sure used some colorful language or whatever... I don't censor his video games as I once did (I refused to buy him violent games when he was too young to buy them himself and I explained why) or his musical choices (which are incredibly varied) EXCEPT when his 11 year old sister is in the car. I completely trust him and have tried to tell him that I am no longer looking over his shoulder because he has shown me good judgement and respect and that I trust him- SO DON'T BLOW IT! He is going thousands of miles away for college so he will need to continue to make good choices in my absence... I will certainly hope and pray for and encourage this. BUT... my daughter, she will be a completely different story... risk taker, sneaky, "street smart"...and only 11. Different kid, different strategy!

SandraT said...

Don't feed the troll...

Katrina said...

I agree and disagree. I think that if you are a super snoop (this coming from having a mother who was), and if you make that aware to your kids (or even worse, you don't tell them, and then find out through a lovely confrontation about some issue) - they'll just become a pro at hiding it from you. Sad but true. It's what i did. I say, keep some privacy and respect, and keep an open flow of honest conversation between parents and kids.

Lesa said...

Totally agree. My twins are 18, I will always have the right to look through their things, ask whatever question I want, I am their facebook friend, I know their passwords and may ask to see their phones at anytime.

My daughter who is away at college has to contact me if she takes any car trips over 20 miles, she has to also tell me when she gets there and when she arrives back at the dorm.

We speak around 5 times a day, sometimes I call her, sometimes she calls me. Her roommate speaks to her Mom about once a month--WTF.

Every single time I talk or text this kid she says I Love You Ma-Ma. She is not resentful at all. She knows that I am out here caring about her.

Kim Welch said...

My favorite blog post ever written in the history of the world. AMEN SISTA! I tell my kids all the time, this is not a democracy!`

Kim at Let Me Start By Saying said...

FYI: I'm the author of the HuffPo article, and my daughter knows the pictures and the story are on the internet. She's happy with it, and even wants me to put photos of her other diary on it. ;) So, all is well on that front.

Anonymous said...

AMEN!

L. Shanna said...

Well said!

Kim Welch said...

Well my computer went nuts and posted over and over ! I am so sorry. Hopefully this only appears once!

BadParentingMoments said...

Until the day they pack up their things and make that trek into the great, big world, it's my job to protect them using any and all tools and information at my disposal and that's what I'm going to do. Because I love them and I have the 20/20 hindsight to know that they don't always make decisions in their best interest. Privacy isn't a right. It's a rite of passage. Like respect, you earn your right to privacy. Until then, the freedom of information act is in full force in my house. :) Great, great post, Jen.

deanna said...

My mother read the HELL out of my diary. I don't resent her for that. She was able to help me talk out some things when she did read something worrisome. I'm thankful she read it, as I had just been embarrassed and thought she wouldn't understand.

deanna said...

Well, if he won't ALLOW you to read them, there's a problem. If there's true openness in a relationship, then you won't give a flying rat's ass if your husband reads your email.

Rumi-cubed said...

Yeah..or in case he's a cheater.

deanna said...

I had a mom who read my diary, knew where I was, questioned, looked, knew knew knew. And ya know what? I did fine in college. There's a fine line between overprotective/controlling and keeping tabs on your kid. Reading emails, tweets, and texts isn't going to stifle a kid. Not allowing them to do anything is where the "sheltered" kid winds up experimenting BIG time.

deanna said...

I pay the bills. They are not adults. End of story. The human brain is not fully developed until they are 22 years old. Time and time again, I see parents mourning a child who committed suicide because a photo they took and sent to someone online, or in a text, is used to hurt them, blackmail them, etc. If parents knew what their children were doing and sending, then maybe some of that could be prevented. If parents knew their 12 year old daughter was on a chat room online with people she doesn't know, don't you think they'd want to tell her what a horrible idea sending a picture of her boobs to some sick fuck would be??? And yet, clueless parents in Canada lost their daughter because this pervert used those pictures, over and over again, to torment her. If they had known she was in such chats, and put a stop to it, she'd most likely still be alive. The stakes are different now. Ask your state's attorney's office. They advise parents to check, and check often.

And it's not just to protect them from others - it's to prevent them from committing crimes. Crimes for which the parents (i.e. the person who owns the house/pays the bills) can be found guilty, and fined, and sentenced to JAIL TIME.

Until they're paying their own bills, I think I'll protect them, and me, from mistakes that are so much bigger and wider reaching than the ones I made at their ages.

Anonymous said...

I don't mean this in a disrespectful tone at all; I just want to share my experiences growing up in a privacy-free home.

My parents raised me under a veritable iron fist of control. They went through my room, read my notebooks and diary, listened in on my phone calls, and basically monitored my every move. They pre-assumed I was untrustworthy, because "kids lie all the time" and after awhile, I began to believe they must be right. I didn't have a great self-image. I just figured that since my parents didn't trust me, I must not deserve to be trusted.

This continued until I finally moved out the week I turned 18. At that point, I realized that my entire moral compass hinged on, "if I do this, will my parents find out and punish me?" The lack of privacy kept me from developing a sense of accountability. I had to learn to make my own choices by trial and error, as an adult, without my parents there to catch me if I fell down. To this day, I carry a deep-seeded need for privacy and generally don't like to disclose many details about my life with my mother and father -- I never had a choice about sharing with them before, why should I now? Our relationship is strained at best.

Sure, strict monitoring may keep kids out of trouble while they are under your roof, but there is something to be said for letting them fail and become accountable to themselves while still in the safe environment of their parents' home. I'm not saying kids should run amok and do whatever they want -- but isn't there a happy medium? Kids should leave home with tools and life skills to help them succeed as adults--not just the idea that they have no right to privacy, and they shouldn't do something wrong just because their parents will find out.

Of course my experiences are unique to me, and may not apply to you at all; but the title, "Why My Kids Have No Right To Privacy" just set off my alarms.

sam said...

I tell my daughter that I will reserve the right to go though her personal (her diary if she chooses to keep one) things if I feel that there is something that warrants it. Once she is old enough to have a facebook page she knows that I will need access to it until I feel she really understands how to protect her online data. We have a cellphone that is hers to use, it is kept in our room when she isn't someplace where she needs it. The rules for that will be the same as facebook. I do feel that she needs a place where she can have a release if she needs it and a physical diary is probably the safest way for her to vent.

Jessi said...

I agree and as a kid her had her diary read and room raided I can tell you that I hated my parents for it then but I thank them now. You're right that kids don't know how to handle consequences and its our jobs to help them.

David Silva said...

I agree with a lot of what you say, and as long as you are honest about it and don't do the creepy stalker thing, it should be cool. Children have become insanely evil, and amazingly insecure. I couldn't imagine cutting myself because morons teased me, or ever sending pictures of myself that people could laugh at later. Or ever killing myself, even though i was the kid in school everyone loved to attack and hate.

The flip side, I had a cousin who's mom listened in on all her children's phone calls, among other extremely stalkerish things. It turned him into a total asshole. And turned the others into hating their family. Granted my grandmother had 9 kids, the family has a ton of issues, and really is not close, but i can have conversations with my 50+ other cousins. That family can't deal with family at all.

Stephanie M. Clarkson said...

I am sorry, but if you don't accept that the child is old enough to have privacy on your watch, from you, you should *likewise* not accept that she can understand all the things that 'approving' half a million readers reading her story and diary contents, even something this innocuous, means. Your job right now is actually to protect her (this is also why kids 12 and under are not allowed to sign up for Facebook, and are removed when FB finds out, because they are not able to judge social natworking accurately).

I believe you did the right thing checking in on it. But I don't believe you can have it both ways. A child who is old enough to approve the publication of her story is old enough to have some privacy. A child whose diary should be read for her own protection is not old enough to make the decision to spread it to the masses.

Suzan S said...

Yes, yes, and yes. I only have PreSchoolers, but this will be happening when they are older. Also, this description of the negative commenters rules: "I always imagine many of them living in vans down by the river or licking Cheetos residue from their fingers..." Great post!

Anonymous said...

I feel sorry for your children. I feel even sorrier for them when they share their passwords with their SOs, because you have taught them that you share passwords with those you love. And when their SOs violate that trust, you will be a large part of that cause. Privacy is something we should teach our kids and something we are no longer teaching them, which is why everyone and their mothers shares everything of FB these days.

You think it is appropriate that your daughter IN COLLEGE calls you five times a day? That she tells you if she takes a car trip over 20 miles? Hate to break it to you, but she's an adult. She should be breaking away from you and making her own decisions. Heck, she talks to you on the phone more than I do with my husband when I'm out of town.

Ma-Ma, you're going to love it when your daughter, so dependent on you, comes right back home, unable to have a job and life of her own. Either that, or she wakes up one day and wants nothing to do with you.

David Silva said...

Except they won't "always" love you. Plenty of people never speak a word to their parents, and never will again.

Being a parent is hard work, and some things will be way beyond the control of parents.

I do agree with the rest of what you wrote though.

Although why wouldn't you just take the door handle off? That would make a lot more sense than taking the entire door off.

mwhitaker said...

Thank you!! Completely agree.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry that your children were molested by an older child. I hope my children are able to come to me with questions and concerns, even if they're uncomfortable. When the time comes, I will explain the need to talk to me if they feel abused, to get help/get away right away, and to keep their FB profiles appropriate.

However, your sons, when about 11 or so, will suddenly be going through lots of Kleenex and lotion. They probably will want to start doing their own laundry. This is why you give them privacy and a door. This is why you let them have secrets.

Anonymous said...

I don't read my husband's e-mails. He doesn't read mine. It's called privacy and trust. And no, neither of us are cheating on one another.

All of you crappy parents (and yes, I think you're crappy if you're searching through your kids' things) have one big flaw in your reasoning. You have taught or are teaching your kid that it is acceptable to go through other people's stuff. Don't be surprised when they go through your stuff and violate your privacy. Better hide the sex toys!

My dad never searched through my things (I'm 31 and old enough now that I trust this was true). If he was worried about me, he probably would have, but I didn't give him a reason to worry. He told me and discussed with me how to behave and what to share and not share with others. Even now, I want to educate my children to have privacy, so they understand that sharing naked pictures is not appropriate or a good idea, that passwords should be private, and that search and you often find what you don't want to find. If I have a concern about my kid and talking hasn't worked, or they had violated my trust, I'd consider searching. But you all want to do this with kids before there are any issues, and that's wrong on so many levels.

Anonymous said...

This is the issue. When you're searching through your kids' things like this, most likely you are the one with issues and need help. And you make a good chance of your kid not trusting YOU and perhaps even not liking you when they are adults.

My step-father went through my things and spied on me. I was not a bad kid. I kissed a few guys at school in high school. I'm in my 30s now. My mom has died, and I want nothing to do with him. He was also abusive, but the spying thing got to me. I actually used to hide stuff there just to piss him off.

Anonymous said...

Twenty??? Twenty??? I don't care that he lives with you. That's a reason to tell him what time to be home and which chores to do. But monitoring his E-MAIL??? You're insane. He's not a child; he's an adult. But you're ensuring that he stays in the mentality of a kid. Why risk the great big, bad world when Mommy watches out for you and tells you who's good for you?

Jenn said...

Bravo!!!

Guru Girl said...

At least you paused to consider the ethical transgression of diary-reading. I recently read my 7 year old's diary, laughed my ass off and didn't even think about it as being a boundary violation until now! Yup. Just thought about it. Nope. Don't care. I echo your sentiments. I'm her mom. Out to guard and protect her. I'll let her know I'm monitoring stuff... am sure if I bribe her with sugary cereal tomorrow morning, she'll be fine with it!

Anna said...

HI Anonymous, this is her daughter in college! and yes I do call my mom 5 times a day, I love my mom and want to talk to her all the time. How dare you talk to my mom this way. I am 18 and I still believe I need to tell my mom whenever I go somewhere. Also, you dont have the right to tell my mom what is and isnt appropriate, you dont have the right to say any of this.

You dont need to feel sorry for me or my sisters because there is nothing for you to feel sorry about, I love my life and the way my parents are with me.

Every parent is allowed to parent their children anyway they please and I have no problem with the amount of privacy I have. I dont keep any secrets from my parents, they know everything.

Anonymous, I know I am going to have a job and life of my own BECAUSE of the way my parents raised me and I will never wake up on any day wanting to do nothing with my mom.

You have absolutely no right to judge my mom and there is no need for you to be rude and ignorant either. How does saying this to my mom benefit you? What do you gain from this? Absolutely nothing. It just makes you a bully.

Sadie K said...

May not agree with every point, but on the whole oh yea!!! Better believe Mama's watching! There are too many kids today who are not being raised- and I am not talking about underprivileged low income kids. I think it would be a good experiment to do a survey even have it anonymous among kids about how in their lives their parents are. There's a time to be cool, and there's a time to be a parent, very rarely are they the same time.

Abby said...

I completely understand and respect where you're coming from, but I have to disagree with you -- at least partially.

I'm 17, and I have a very good relationship with my parents. They let me have a great deal of privacy, and trust me to come to them if I need help with something. I trust both of my parents, and they trust me. And because they trust me, I am very open with them -- I have nothing to hide. And I actually ENJOY coming to them with stuff, they give good advice! :P

What I'm trying to say is this: there's something to be said about raising your kids to be comfortable sharing things with you, the parent. A child/parent relationship built on mutual respect and trust is a pretty great thing -- and it's something that never would have developed if I caught my mom reading my text messages or journal.

And take it from me, being super nosey and controlling won't get you anywhere; your kids will just get sneakier. I know a lot of other teens that have incredibly strict parents, and they're into all sorts of things. Their parents have no idea, and they don't find out until everything's a mess.



TNMom said...

I AGREE!! 100%!! I loved Kim's post and figured she'd get blasted, but I try not to read those HuffPo comments. Great post, great for not giving a shit what other people think of your parenting!
I have this idea that I am submitting to the phone company of needing a password to delete texts. Because the kids can delete the text messages right after they send them, but if mommy has a password, then only mommy can delete them!! (or dad, of course).
This may not be the MOST comments you've ever gotten on a post but dang if it ain't the LONGEST comments!! I can't read them all!!
Bravo Jen!! <3 Devan

Lori Dilworth said...

Well done, Jen! Way to be a parent! I wish more people with children were actually parents.

Janine Huldie said...

So with you on this Jen. Just recently my almost 4 year old learned how to lie. I saw it happen with my own two eyes and she lied straight to my face. So, yes after that my kids are not entitled to privacy, because that is a privilege or something they earn.

Amy Harrison said...

I agree with the distinctions of no privacy vs. gradually increased privacy. Being pregnant with my first child has me thinking about all these issues, and the rules that my parents had laid down. I wasn't allowed an email until I was 19: I think that my children will get an email around their junior year of high school, so that they can have time to apply for college scholarships, etc. And that rule may change.
But I also believe that as long as a parent is upfront and honest about a child's lack of privacy, and explain the boundaries, then looking through diaries, Facebook, other social media shouldn't be termed snooping. It's not a reason to not trust your parents, because they have fully explained the rules, and you know what could happen.
I don't think my children should worry about "budding writing talent". If I find something praiseworthy, then I will praise it. This shows that parents are looking out for the whole well-being of the child. If I read that the kid wants a dog, or wants to learn how to paint, I want to be able to discuss some fair rules in order to get that dog, or to buy him an easel and get him art lessons.
My mom had this great idea from her mother. We had a journal that we wrote to each other. I would write in it, and then put it under her pillow. She would respond. Although we didn't have an easy relationship, I knew that this way, she wouldn't judge me, and would help me resolve issues in a fun way.

Lolo Moku said...

I agree completely. And for those that think that some of these "issues" won't happen to them, I urge them to rethink that stance. It can happen to you. Just when you least expect it. My oldest knows that his phone/ipod/computer activity can be checked at any time. I would have to think about the diary issue if it came up, but luckily for me, boys don't tend to keep those. One less thing to worry about until my youngest daughter gets older. :)

zephryinthesky24 said...

High fives to you!

My mother read my diary and used everything I wrote against me all the time. I had no privacy at all. I am 21 now, live with my grandparents, and have next to no privacy. I used to love to write and now I am ashamed to do it because my mother made me feel that way. I could never hide my diary enough times. Thank you for understanding.

zephryinthesky24 said...

But... Your daughter is five. She is not really equipped to make or understand the consequences of that decision. If she were older, in her teens, perhaps, then it would be different. As it stands, she is five and incapable of making her own conscious choices about things like that.

Digital Diva said...

AMEN SISTER!!! I would hope that you would consider putting your post in the Huffington Comments.

Susan said...

The Haters and enablers need to shut up! Bravo to you for taking a proactive stance rather than a reactive one. If kids and teens were loaded with common sense or experience, we wouldn't have to do this... they aren't...so we do!!!

Bethany Zell said...

I agree 10000% on this one, Jen! If I hadn't been the nosey mom that I am, I would have had no idea that my teenager was embroiled in an eating disorder that led to cutting and suicidal ideations. She is now in therapy and intensive treatment and although we have a long road ahead, we know that she is safe. We tell our kids, "You can have all the privacy you want when you no longer live under our roof!"

Jana said...

Agree, agree, agree!!

Red said...

My 7 year old niece has a Facebook account....and my brother in law and sister in law did not know the password to the account, and though it was "cute" when a boy in her class wrote something about sex on her wall. Yeah. And they don't believe in parenting with violence....(btw- to them, "violence" is raising their voices) so their 3 kids run the house and do what they want. I'm waiting for the phone call that my 16 year old niece is pregnant. It will happen. Kids need rules and structure, period. And I sure as hell didn't have privacy when I was a kid, and I turned out just fine and not the least bit traumatized. Quit coddling your kids, it doesn't benefit ANYONE.

Hupernikao said...

There is no such thing as one-size-fits-all parenting. Every child is different, every parent-child relationship is different. To judge another parent on their choices, making generalized statements of "crappy" parenting, is just ridiculous. I could be that parent that says "I did it right and if you all just did things the way I do, you would have the best kids ever" - because frankly, my kids are. And I break just about every "accepted" parenting method known to man. Obviously, if some parent that is not me tried to emulate my parenting style with a child that is not my child, the results would likely be disastrous. The only thing that will keep our kids safe (as much as we can keep them safe, most times our idea of safety is just an illusion) is taking the time, regularly and consistently, to get to know our children from the moment they are born onward. If your kid is 16 and you don't know who they are - that ship has sailed. But if you know your child - whether they have a tendency to follow or lead, whether they seek the approval of peers or couldn't care less, if they are prone to getting their feelings hurt easily or have a "thick skin", etc. - you know where you can allow them freedom and where you need to hold the reigns tightly. And that is why you need to not judge a parent for their choices - you don't know their kid they way they do (hopefully). We get the Steubenvilles the Columbines etc, IMHO, from people not trusting their own parenting instinct (and as a Christian I also believe by being led by the Holy Spirit) and leaning instead on the philosophies of others, even when it may even have become obvious that it' isn't working for them.

If anyone is interested, I can access all of my children's devices, know all their passwords, etc. I never once asked for them - they were freely given without my ever even asking.

Christina said...

LOVE this post and I 100% agree!!!

Tabitha Crow said...

I agree. Kids are "entitled" to healthy food choices, sleep, showers and little else. If they have a phone/computer it is because we ALLOW them to have one. My daughter has just recently gotten into the bad habit of saying that "I gotta" do things for her. My reply? I don't "gotta" do anything except make sure she's fed, bathed, has a good night's sleep and attends school. My "job" is to make every effort to see that she grows up to be a reasonably happy and well adjusted productive member of society. My job is NOT to cater to her every "need" or give her privacy. I've always been taught that you earn your privacy, you're not entitled to it.

rugrat1411 said...

I have 18 and 23 year old daughters and I knew there passwords to their things. I would check their facebook accounts just to see what was happening and who they were friends with. My husband and I have always asked 20 million questions and still do to this day. Just like my parents did me and I turned out okay. My kids know that they can come to me anytime and no matter what I will be there, might not like it but I'm there for them. I have had that phone call at midnight to come pick them up because to drunk to drive, she was 21 and new years eve party. Its not policing them, its protecting them. My husband says his house his rules, they don't like it they can move out and pay their own bills. Guess what, they are both still living at home, one in RN school and the other in college.

Crystal said...

I love this post in so many ways. I wish more parents risked being "bad" parents to avoid having so many "bad" kids in the world. I fully intend on keeping a close watch on my children. If I did read emails/texts/journals, I certainly wouldn't bring up their crushes, fantasies, etc., but I would want to know if my child was severely depressed or being bullied at school. Some mistakes we have to let them make, but others could change their life forever. It's a different world with so much technology, and it's harder for parents to keep track. I think you have to do what's right for you as a parent, but for me, that's probably going to be overprotective and a constant watchful eye on every thing my kids are doing. My parents were that way, and I turned out just fine, even after we had fights about them invading my privacy. I'm glad they did. I was able to get help I needed and guided down a better path.

TheMrsAnderson said...

I could not agree with this post more! If snooping makes me a bad parent then so be it! Someday my kids will thank me just as I thanked my parents (after I moved out ha!).

K said...

I wholeheartedly agree. My kids know we have rules. Rules meant to protect, not torture. I may not read their diaries and all of their texts , but they know I have a right to, and I check them randomly. When they act responsibly, they earn our respect as parents. My first job is to be their Mother, and it's because of that responsibility that friendship is highly sought after, but comes second.

Maureen said...

Well this is a tough one indeed. I think the reality is that most people will find a balance for their families. A person's thoughts are their own and I would not be able to express myself honestly if I knew I was being monitored and I wouldn't want to take that creative impulse away from someone else. However, online communication changes things and situations can get out of hand quickly. The final question remains for me - what happens when we are no longer watching the children? We can't monitor their behavior forever. Are they only good because they fear we will find out?

Snarky Girl's Rants and Raves said...

Jen, I couldn't agree with you more. As a parent to a 16 year old boy and 10 year old girl, they both know that they have no "right to privacy." Until they pay taxes and rent and live on their own, I will know what is going on. My kids know they have to turn over their electronics, including phones, at a moments notice. My friend found out by accident that her 14 year old daughter was sexually active by reading her journal. She thought it was a notebook for school. Now, if she hadn't have read that, she wouldn't have known. No birth control would have been obtained. No lectures given. Same friend has a son who's 11 year old girlfriends father phoned up because he had been going through his daughter's cell messages and found that the two were SEXTING!!!

The flip side to this is that my kids know they can come to me anytime, with anything, and I will have their backs and try to help them with their problems. But a right to privacy? Umm...just no.

Karen Herman said...

My daughter is 15. The philosophy we follow in our house is "trust unless I can't trust you" I could check her grades every day. I could check her phone records or texts if I wanted to. I could check her journal and spy on her when she's with her girlfriends. But I don't. She's a good kid. We talk all the time. I know all the soap opera details of her life. I know where she is when she's out with friends. She calls me to let me know if she's moving on to another friend's house. You get to this point because there's 2 way trust in the relationship. There are times she has disappointed us, but we talk to her about it and her behavior changes. I don't see any need for this helicopter stuff, unless the trust has been violated. Maybe I'm lucky....but I haven't had to hover yet.

Jenn In Real Life said...

You are the kind of parent I hope to be one day. I don't want my kids to like me, I want them to love me and fear me and respect me and trust me. I want to trust them to not do stupid shit but I'm also not going to hang my hat on hopes and dreams when I know all the crazy stuff I did when I was young and the horrible things that happen now.

I think that you're a great mom. Not a pal and not a friend. Not yet. That comes much later. Right now, you're a parent.

Danielle said...

This is a great post! My own children are toddlers but for the past 10 years I have taught 8th grade English. Due to the amount of writing I read, I have learned so much about my students and at times I've had to bring issues that I learned about in their writing to guidance. This is writing they knew they were handing in and that I was going to read! Kids don't understand the results of all of their actions and too many times they are afraid to tell their parents how they feel; so parents do need to stay on top of the situation.

Social media doesn't help either. It certainly has a place in our society but it presents the kids with another arena to "test" out behaviors that might be inappropriate, such as posting negative pictures or bullying.

One year we had a speaker come into school and he told us a sad story of how his 13 year old son committed suicide. He had an agreement with his kids that they had to write down all their user names and passwords to their email accounts, social media, etc. He kept them in an envelope and told his kids he wouldn't use them unless he felt a true need. He didn't want to be nosy but wanted to protect them. When he son was found dead he used his passwords to find out that he had been humiliated and bullied on a social media website. His son never mentioned this and he has lived with the guilt that he could have helped his son if he had known. Now this doesn't happen to every child who is bullied but this is an example that had an impact on me. I would rather invade my child's privacy than risk possibly losing them. I also like his idea of having their passwords in an envelope.

Jenn you are right - parents are not friends until much later in life for a reason.

Veronica said...

I don't agree at all that by monitoring your kids' internet and cell phone usage or by reading their diaries that you're teaching them to snoop. There's a hell of a big difference between a parent checking up on their kids, and a kid just being nosy. Part of teaching your kid respect is teaching them what behavior is acceptable of what people and under what circumstances. As a kid I heard my parents swearing, and my dad would have the occasional after-work beer. That in no way meant that I, a child, felt that I should be knocking back a beer after a rough day on the playground, cussing, or digging through my mom's dresser drawers (not that I wanted to do that...bras, terrifying!). As long as I'm fully liable for the actions of the small person living in my home, guess what kid? Your shit, which is actually MY shit that I let you use, is all fair game. Deal with it.

Ashley Austrew said...

I saw this article on HuffPost yesterday, and reading the comments, I remembered the talk we had at the Blue Moose. Yikes, those people are rough.

Tim Smith said...

While I normally come to this blog for your sarcastic sense of humor. This entry was very serious, but also the best one I have read yet. I am single full time Dad of 3 and I agree with EVERY WORD you wrote.

Funnyface said...

I read the article...and I was okay with it. I don't think "things" has changed. Every parent has their right of their own style of parenthood and NOBODY, not even whoever spooky guy you want to believe in...can change that. And that's something hasn't change in ages and it won't. My mother always say and keeps saying "this is MY house and everything that is in it". I never had a problem with that. When people say that my house will never be the same because all my kid's toys...I say, no, is my house. My house is no daycare, period. And yes, I had a diary too and there was no lock in it. We didn't have the right to lock our rooms door. Things are different now...who says that? and really I don't care either. Each to their own.

Annie Boreson said...

I've been thinking about this post all day. Initially I was going to write something but felt that I should sit on it for a minute. It seems there are those who find reading a journal a moral crisis. I know this story might fall within the fast track to hell, but I don't care. It helped me navigate my way and I don't regret what I did.

Not too many years ago I was dating a man who was diagnosed with prostate cancer...stage four...one year to live. He was about to start Lupron, a drug that could change the course of his prognosis, but would also take away his libido and virtually send him spiraling into menopause. The week before he began the treatment and moved into my house with my kids, he visited a therapist. She asked him to start a journal covering what that loss would mean to him. I did not know about this until one morning he left for work and the journal was sitting open on my coffee table. I know this sounds far-fetched but I saw him jotting down notes feverishly in the book and knew he was tackling something. When I saw it the next morning open on the table I wanted to put it away with his other things, but then I started to think about my role in all of this. I wondered if I was bugging him with my questions...if I was doing enough...if he liked the change in diet, etc. I felt insecure about my part and I questioned if I was doing enough. I walked over to the coffee table and began to read. As my eyes scanned the lines I suddenly saw that what he had documented on those pages was all the women (some being my close friends) that he would like to make love to. Of course he was angry when I told him that I'd read it, but he left it open in my house...on my table...for my eyes and my kid's eyes to read. I was told that the journal didn't mean anything. It was just an exercise prescribed by his doctor to address losing his sex drive. He said, "They were simply thoughts. I would never have acted on them." I learned that day that you cannot wash your brain out with soap or hose the crap off like dung on a shoe. Thoughts flow and change.

Was it right for me to read his journal? Probably not but all I know is things turned out for the best for both of us. It always does...that is the truth we need to hold fast to when things get rough.

Tracy_J said...

Jen, I seriously have a mom crush on you! This is exactly the deal in my house too!! My boys understand that ultimately, they aren't entitled to any privacy here, outside of bathroom time. (How I wish they'd want MORE privacy in the bathroom! Close the damn door!) But it's not my job to be their buddies, it's my job to ensure I don't unleash assholes on the world when they get out of my house.

Glori said...

So, if you don't snoop, you're a bad parent. If you do snoop, you're a bad parent. Why can't people just parent their children without the judgment of others? We can all agree that most parents are doing the best they can. They do what THEY think is right.
There is not right or wrong here! You're not better than other parents because you go through your kids' things, and vice versa. Mind your business and worry about your own family.

Rob said...

I agree that a diary/journal is sacred. It is where a child can work through their thoughts and emotions without judgement. Internet posts or text messages, basically any interaction with others is not off limits. My oldest is 8 and I am just starting to have to worry about these things.

Tim Smith said...

I don't want to speak for Jen, but I don't think by this article she meant that she was going to keep her kids under an "iron fist of control". I think she meant that she wants them to know that she can and will check things out from time to time. I am sure as they get older if they are causing trouble those times will be more frequent and if they are doing well the checking in on this stuff will be just once in a while to stay informed. Maybe I am wrong but that is what I got out of it. Also, my kids are 11, 10, and 7 and I pretty much do as I just said above. It is not an "iron fist" but they do know that I check up on them from time to time.

Roshni AaMom said...

Some times, it's the only way of knowing if your child is being abused.
I don't for one moment think that Kate was being anything but a loving, concerned parent.
And, ultimately, we all have different methods of parenting. Can we just respect that and go our own separate ways?!

Artemisia said...

Kids who live in huts with their ten siblings, parents, grandparents, and the family goats don't have any privacy either. Granted, they are probably working a farm all day, but I doubt you see them even thinking about pulling most the crap American kids do.

Brenna said...

The most amusing part is that people seem to be under the impression that bloggers get rich and/or famous.

Kathy Glow said...

Bra-vo, Jen, bra-vo! This is so right on. What if the Columbine parents had gone into their sons' rooms? Would all of those kids have died? I am raising four boys. Boys give you a one word answer which is usually "fine" or "nothing." You better believe if I feel more information is needed I will seek it myself. I am not their friend - I am their mom. It is my job to raise them as decent human beings and to keep them safe. I will go to any means necessary to do that. As a person who struggled with depression in high school and who would never open up to my parents, I WISH my mom would have read my diary. Then I could have gotten the help I was too afraid to ask for.

Shawn Carty said...

Bravo Jen. You are exactly right. I raised two daughters who are now grown. One of them is a mother to an infant. I knew my daughters' friends, I knew at least one of their parents, I had home phone numbers and address for their friends. If they told me they were at some one's house I might decide to drive by and check it out. I knew what they were doing and who they were with. I searched drawers, cars, email, whatever I felt like it. They lived in my house and I paid for that cell phone and their service. I paid for that car they drove. I gave them money for the movies or events. They are not adults until they are paying their own way and living in their own place. They knew that. But my daughters also knew I loved them. I would listen without making judgments to anything they wanted to talk about. I would listen to their friends and provide advice and guidance where needed. I loved them more than they would ever know and it was my job to guide and direct them so they could live long enough to become grown adults and contribute positively to this world they live in.

My daughter forwarded me this blog and said this sounded exactly like me. Now she understood what I did and why and she will be that kind of parent when the time comes. Both my daughters have college degrees, good careers, lots of friends, and wonderful husbands. I am to be commended. If you are not following the guidelines in Jen's blog, you are not doing your job as a parents. You are their parent, not their friend. Being their friend happens after they graduate from high school or turn 18.

calibamamom said...

I couldn't agree more with this, Ashley, and parent my daughters exactly the same way! And, ironically...I'm originally from the South!

calibamamom said...

This statement is GREAT!! LOVE IT :-) And Noelle, I have a 13 y.o. daughter too, and do the exact same things. She does have a cell phone, but I check it almost more than I check my own. We pay the bill, so her dad and I can look at it/use it/claim it as ours anytime, anywhere. Oh, and the FB thing....my girl doesn't even know her password! I set up the account, imposed Fort Knox level security settings and I monitor it constantly. Plus, we have a few mutual friends--mostly family members--who are good watchdogs. I must say though, my girl is a good kid too. We talk openly, and honestly and she confides in me, because I don't freak out over stuff. I remember how hard it was to be 13 :-)

calibamamom said...

OMG...this made me laugh out loud...literally!

calibamamom said...

Amen, sister! I couldn't agree with your post more. I have 3 daughters, ages 13, 9, and 7, and I parent exactly the same way :-) My oldest has a phone that we pay for, so we have the right to confiscate it anytime, anywhere. She has a FB account, but doesn't know her password, as I set it up for her to insure there are Fort Knox Level security settings on it. We are friends on FB, and I regularly monitor all activity on electronic devices used by my children in our home...computer, iPad, etc. The little ones watch YouTube videos about Monster High dolls. Wanna know how I know that? Because I check the history! My oldest is a wonderful, well-adjusted 13 year old whom has never given me any reason to mistrust her. She doesn't keep a journal, but talks to me instead. We have a wonderful relationship. She is active in her church youth group, and I know all her friends, and most of their moms. I'm involved in her life because I love her, and I monitor her activity and 'invade her privacy' to protect her, because sometime she might actually make a stupid choice like most kids do, and if I can intervene and keep it from becoming a fatal one....then it's worth being called a HORRIBLE MOM!

30 on Life said...

You.are.amazing. I am totally sharing this. My kids are 4 and 5 and I have already assumed my role as "the meanest mommy ever".

LUISA MAY LUNA said...

I have always read and searched my kids rooms and any papers/books I find. They stand right there as I do it. I take my daughters "journal/diary" and skim through it with her standing right there. I don't read every word, but if something catches my eye, I look closer. What is wrong with that? Privacy, really, their kids. Get a life people. Think about it, how would you feel if your son or daughter, lets say their 13, committed suicide. Ofter your done putting them in the ground, you sit in their room crying and asking yourself "Why??"!!! Then you see on their dresser a Diary, which you knew they had, You pick the lock and start reading it... It starts out all nice and sweet, then it starts talking about how they get picked on and bullied in school, how their life is so misurable, no one cares, not even their MOM!!! As your heart sinks, you read something like this "I wish my mom would talk to me, I wish she would ask me what's wrong, I wish someone would help me before it's too late"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! No further entries.................... Because, the next day, your darlin' child committed suicide, right in that very room!!! How do you feel about their "Privacy" Now??? Was it really worth it?? Are you so so glad that you gave your child all that space and freedom??? That made you such a great parent didn't it, well atleast for those short 13 years it did.... Right??? Now Imagine if you were activly involved, and your child knew you'd read it. You would of seen the first signs and sat down, talked with your child, when it was still possible.... Your child was begging for help, but the first "Privacy privilaged" child didn't get it, but the second "active parent" read it and helped their child!!! Which do you actually think is the correct procedure!! I for one, am the latter, I invade, I read, I search, and my kids know it. At any time, I'll do a backpack search, maybe before, maybe after school. And they never know when it's coming.... Grow up Parents, Their our kids and it's our jobs to protect them and teach them....

Abby said...

As a middle school teacher, I would LOVE to just be able to print this out and hand it to the parents of every one of my students. I know way more about their kids' lives than they ever could imagine and I know for a fact their parents would be pretty horrified if they did just one quick scan through the cell phone messages, nevermind the facebook messages!! In only the snippets of conversations that I overhear and the generalized information that the kids tell me outright, I'm sure that there is a lot of swearing and inappropriate comments/pictures that are getting sent... especially by those kids who are generally considered to be very nice, smart, and responsible.



Also, I absolutely love that you use the phrase "precious snowflake" in this! =) I tell my students that they are all special and unique little snowflakes... JUST LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE, so that's why rules & consequences exist for everyone to follow. No exceptions!

Amanda Taylor said...

I 110% love this post! I think that people a too worried about their children not "liking" them or some BS like that, that they forget they are not meant to like us. Yeah, it would be nice if they liked us for most of their life, but I'd rather have a child who was mad at me sometimes (or a lot of the time) because I was being a GOOD PARENT but a BAD FRIEND because we're not their friends. We are their parents, duh! These are the children that will look back and say "thank you" as adults.

Alicia said...

This is a great post and a great thing for people to be discussing. I have 7 kids, and there is such a fine line between parenting and privacy. And as they get older, privacy becomes a different issue than when they are 5 and 6. I have told mine that are no secrets in our home. If you and a friend have a secret you share it with me and it will be ours together so I can help you figure out what to do. Some secrets are important and adults need to help. Mine have told me things I didn't want to know, but I've always kept their confidence when it was shared. But when one of mine steps over the line, I will search rooms without hesitating. I found dirty magazines one time and they went in the grill and the ashes tossed in the compost pile. There were random room searches for about 6 months afterwords. And because we both write software, all the computers in the house go through a central computer and we turn the internet off at bed time. We can and do block any website we don't approve of and we occasionally read their email. Do I think I'm intruding, you bet, it's my job. My friends daughter ran away from home and contacted one of my boys. We helped her parents track her down by reading his emails. Should I feel bad about invading his privacy. No way. He told her to go home, and I was glad he did that, but an adult needed to step in. It was a learning experience for him.

It's also my job to give them a little leeway when they deserve it too. I can't and won't watch them to the point they have no space, but I do watch more than they think I do. Plus we have the bonus plan, 7 kids means no secrets. They all tell on each other.

The thing I remember from the Columbine case (since everyone keeps mentioning it) was the parents saying they didn't know the kids had guns hidden in the garage. SERIOUSLY???? I always thought they should have been charged with neglect for not knowing there were weapons in their home. What kind of parent cares so little that their child can do anything with no supervision?

Michele said...

i knew that my mother read my diary...therefore, i never wrote anything personal in there...and i also didn't trust her enough to come to her when i did have a problem because i assumed she did not trust me..now that was just me, but i do take that into consideration when i decide whether or not to "invade" my children's "privacy". It is not always so black and white

Kita said...

Stopped by from another blog and I agree there is no privacy as long as you live in my home. I will read whatever is in my house to protect my kids. Kids don't know the dangers I am adult and I don't even know all the dangers out there but you best believe if something is going on I will know about it. There will be no closed doors only time you get privacy is if you using the bathroom. These kids better get use to it.

Tara said...

I live right outside of Steubenville and those kids need their parents to invade whatever privacy they had. My daughter is nine and I've already had to have the 'Talk' with her. Kids grow up way too fast not to wonder and try to figure out what is on their minds. I know there needs to be trust in order for your kids to come to you but I believe they need to be monitored. So put me in with the bad parents list because I have no problem reading, looking, searching histories or anything of that nature to make sure my kid is ideally safe.

holycarp said...

I don't understand the thought that kids need complete freedom to do whatever they please at any time. I recall my grandfather trying to insist that I give my then 5-month-old son spoons to play with. When I said no, he said "but why? It's not hurting anything" ...well, because he has 17000 other toys to play with & I don't want to do more dishes, that's why.

As a first time mother of a 1-year-old, I'm consistently overloaded by media & people's opinions on how kids need to be raised. Sometimes it takes me a few days to figure out how I feel about these things. I recently read somewhere that you shouldn't tell your child not to scream (for fun) because then you're teaching them that they can't express themselves. I had to think about that one for awhile & then realized... well, no, he needs to learn the appropriate time & place to express himself. When he shrieks (loud, ear-piercing squeals of joy) I tell him that he's not allowed to scream in the house, that it's ok to do that outside. At some point in my life, I learned when it's appropriate to say & do certain things, & that it's not ok to do & say anything you want anywhere you want. Why should my kid be any different? Why is it ok to have your e-mails read at work but not ok for a parent to do it?
I love your opinions, keep up the good work, & thank you :)

Natalie Goleman said...

Totally agree! I'm from the South and that's how i was raised and how my two kids will be raised.....I'm 37 years old, married, with 2 kids and I STILL can't get away with anything with my mom....lol....

Kate Deem said...

I am currently 17. When I was 14, I had very low self esteem. My parents gave me all the privacy a 14 year old would want to have. I met a boy online who I became friends with and soon we arranged to meet. The "boy" ended up being a 19 year old guy, and raped me. My parents found out about him, but I was still given privacy. I was cutting myself, contemplating suicide, and was smoking weed (all in my own room). I even had stolen a glass vial of mercury my science teacher had with plans to drink it. That night,my mom walked in when I was throwing several pain pills in my pocket to take before I swallowed the mercury. Then, my parents invaded my life. They started reading my texts, looking through my laptop, going through my room, my backpack, anything a teen would think should be private. They found out just how disturbed I was, and got me through it. Several more times I started going sideways, but they always found out before it could evolve into something very serious. Now, I am a 4.0GPA student with an internship at a law firm, several friends at school, and plan to become a lawyer.
I was upset with my parents for a LONG time, PISSED at them. There was a period of time I went 2 months without talking to my mom. I felt betrayed, but as I got older, I became more mature and realized they look through my things to protect me, and only wanted to protect me back then. I am POSITIVE that if my parents didn't decide to start doing what you do, I would be dead right now.

verdekt said...

Amen! I have been trying to put my finger on what bothers me about this post so I can articulate it, and this sums it up beautifully.

Brandy A said...

It's a journal, and i am actually surprised that a 5 year old was writing in a journal. Most 5 year old's today aren't interested in that sort of thing. The girls mother should be proud that the girl is writing things down and is happy, not posting that she is a noisy mother and was snooping in her 5 year old's journal. I had a journal when i was in my pre-teens and my step dad had gotten a hold of it and was laughing at what i was saying in it. I was completely humiliated by it and after i had gotten it back i ripped it up and threw it away, it took me awhile to write back in a journal again. I think children have a right to some privacy, and a person's inner thoughts are one of them. If she wanted to post her thoughts on a blog, i can understand that her parents would see it because most blogs are public. But when you are writing in a paper journal and keep it in your room. Your parents should have some common sense and sensitivity and not read your thoughts. If they do decide to snoop, than they need to keep that to themselves and not publish it in an article.

Michelle said...

Interesting that a person calling us 'crappy parents' would post as 'anonymous'.

I will tell you that my 16 year old daughter was just institutionalized last week for depression/suicide/cutting. I never searched her things or wanted to "invade her privacy" because I hated it when my mom did that to ME. After she was admitted, I was given her cell phone, and discovered my "innocent daughter" was also smoking pot, and having sex as well, all things that she had previously denied to my face. Had I been being a "NOT SO CRAPPY" parent and doing what was RIGHT instead of being so worried about her precious little "feelings" about her privacy, probably a whole lot of the hell I am currently living could have been avoided. Thanks for this post, Jen. I needed it. It hurt like a big smack in the face, but thankfully, it's never too late to start being a BETTER parent.

Brian Rich said...

"(Of course I'm not saying that every kid who is allowed privacy is going to be a rapist or an asshole, but your chances are pretty high. Good for you if you've raised a good kid who was also afforded privacy!)"

The above joke is so disgusting I want to scream. My parents gave me plenty of privacy as a child, and in return, I never violated their trust on this. This is also the case for virtually every child I know, almost all of whom are normal, happy people. I have never committed a crime, been a bully, or gotten into the type of situation that would warrant this.

Jen, are you so paranoid and distrusting of children that your basic assumption is that they are always doing something wrong? Do you so discredit the existence of any sensation of trouble or difficulty or morality in children that you must monitor everything your little ones do? If so, I fear for your children, as they will never have the experience of having their own independent, unmonitored thoughts, and will never be able to develop their own sense of morality and goals in live.

If you build a system of trust, and encourage them to talk about their problems, they will in all likelihood come to you when they have a problem. Have they ever done this? If not, then something is wrong with your relationship with them.

The invasive and simplistic measures you advocate should only be used if your child has betrayed your trust or is endangering himself. They should never be the basic standard of daily life.

By the way, if I were your child and had to deal with you violating my privacy, I think I would be more then creative enough to avoid it. I can think of at least ten different ways, all of which any creative child could easily devise, to get past prying adults.

Brian Rich said...

Oh, and Kate, I hate to burst your little bit of latent histronics, but if you had drunken that vial of mercury, I have some doubt that you would die. Elemental mercury, according to what I have read, is somewhat inert and not generally metabolized by the body (it is various compounds of mercury, such as dimethylmercury, that are lethally toxic).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercury_poisoning#Elemental_mercury

priest's wife said...

The only trust I have with my kids is that I won't be telling my friends about their business- My kids MUST be open with husband and me, but it ends there (unless they end up needing professional help)..so if my daughter tells me she has a crush on a boy...I'm not going to use that as fodder for my blog...but as mom, I need to know everything so I can do my job as mama

ElizebethJoy said...

THANK YOU.

ElizebethJoy said...

Exactly. Thank you for writing this.

Lucy said...

Very very grateful that my parents disagreed with you. They always told us that it was their job to help us grow into adults, and that letting us have some freedom and self-responsibility was a big part of that. They were there for us when we needed them. We could trust them to respect us, so we trusted them to listen to us when we had problems.

I am glad that you care enough for your child to worry, but I worry about what message you are sending. To me, it sounds like 'I will never trust you.' I urge you to reconsider your stance. So long as you love, care for, and talk to your daughter, she has EVERY reason to come to you when there is a problem instead of trying to keep it hidden.

I'm reminded of some people I know who do not know how to ask for help. They had parents who hunted down and tried to fix everything that was wrong, rather than letting their kids approach them for help. As a result, they struggle in the adult world to get assistance for problems like depression and, yes, suicidal thoughts. Many of the friends I have made have said that before self-harming, they often found themselves thinking things like 'why hasn't anyone noticed?' even though they never say a word out loud. Protection is not a simple or short term game. Teaching your kids how to self protect and ask for assistance is easily as important as teaching them to eat right, or spell. It's a tool they will need as adults.

David M. said...

Honestly, I don't agree with snooping through your kid's things without reason. Look at it from my, a 17 year old boy's, perspective. At first, my parents were similar to many of the parents here and would occasionally snoop through my things at will. That angered me, usually because my stuff was very sacred and I felt that my parents didn't trust me in the slightest and were stunting my personal responsibility so they could make sure I was *safe*. I didn't want them to know some of my secrets; they didn't need to know them. By monitoring me and what I wrote, texted, and emailed, they were restricting my right to personal thoughts and personal feelings (Which EVERY child has regardless if the house is yours or not, so i'd drop that mindset right now if that's what you think). When I turned 12, I told them to stop because it was damaging our relationship and ebbing away my trust. I told them that some things I just didn't want to share with them because there were personal things that I was conflicting with that had I had to resolve myself.

An example would be when I kept a journal and wrote about a bully on the playground. I didn't want my parents to know I was being picked on because I knew it would escalate and i'd get picked on from other kids as well. I ended up talking to the kid's mom at the playground and resolved the issue myself.

It's always been a personal belief of mine that children need to learn how to deal with certain issues without running to mommy and daddy when they're of a certain age (around 10) as it prepares them for the harshness of the teenage and adult life.

On a completely different note, if you're doing a proper job as a parent, you shouldn't even have to look through any of your child's things to get them to open up to you. If they are hiding something that you as a parent would absolutely need to know, chances are that you don't make them feel comfortable enough to get them to confide in you (which still doesn't justify opening and snooping through their things).

Additionally, some people are referencing the Colombine shooting as support to the original topic. The root of that incident was horrible parenting.

In short, children are the same as adults in terms of thoughts and secrets and if you're allowed to keep secrets then you have no right to deprive them of the rights to their own.

Jean Chapman said...

I didn't read all of the comments but I will say this....I whole heartedly agree with you. I installed My Mobile Watchdog on my daughters phone. I have instant access to GPS track her, read her text messages, block certain contacts and (my favorite) block apps on her phone.....Like the camera. My daughter is 16 and knows damn well that I can and will read every message she sends and receives. It's too easy for kids to delete the messages they don't want you to see.

Good for you for not allowing "privacy".

KM said...

You are actually one of those psychos and while you may think you are helping your children I actually feel sorry for them and the years of therapy they are likely to endure because of you. And the fact that you don't care about their privacy or rights is what makes it so sad. That you are controlling and see them as possessions essentially. You should never have had children. I really hope they have someone supportive in their lives away from you who they can choose to be open with. Maybe one day you will take a look at yourself and your need for power.

frootloopsaretastey said...

By age 20, your son is an adult who can make decisions for himself. At this point you are only invading his privacy and infantilizing him. Maybe he lives with you know, but by 20 years old he is going to move out before you know it, and he needs to have some sense of autonomous responsibility for himself. He can make his own adult choices now. Let him.

Olive Price said...

Wow, I disagree.
Looking over their social medias, emails, and maybe texts is okay.

But not their diaries.
A journal is meant for privacy, as a text message or email is not. It is not okay to go though a child's diary.

The Affiliate said...

I agree 100% 5 yrs oldr 15 until my cild moves out of my house they have only bathroom privacy and even then that is limited because everyone can't have their . So I think any parent that believes a child under the age of 21 living in their home deserves unbridged privacy is a damn fool facilitating the degenerates in the world. o

Lord Quasimoto said...

Maybe because anybody who's made an account is already drinking the kool-aid.

You people are so untruthful and scary. Perhaps fostering honest back-and-forth communication is better than reading their diaries.

I think a lot of parents are too caught up in the whole "IF YOUR UNDER MY ROOF I'LL DO ANYTHING I DAMN PLEASE!" way of mind. I think it's because parents nowadays don't really have an idea of how to actually talk to their kid, or more importantly, have their kid talk to them.

I'll tell you what, all my friends who had parents constantly raid their room, especially when they weren't even doing anything wrong, deeply resented your parents in their twenties. Strangely enough, I remember one friend of mine almost a decade ago who kept a fake diary just to appease his parents so he could write his thoughts down without being hounded later.

It's like those parents that drug test their kids. It teaches distrust in and of itself. I bet these kids will grow up to be the kind of people that read through their spouses email and don't see the fault in their action.

A little scary if you ask me. Creepy ass article. Makes me wonder how many mothers, who doubted their actions, Googled this and then said "well, maybe what I'm doing IS okay! Let see what the new page in little Timmy's diary has to say!"

Creepy...

Lord Quasimoto said...

Just wanted to add this because I felt it summed up things rather well:

"This is the issue. When you're searching through your kids' things like this, most likely you are the one with issues and need help. And you make a good chance of your kid not trusting YOU and perhaps even not liking you when they are adults."

Sometimes, having the ABILITY to check on one's child (reading diary, emails, phone texts, etc.) is better than actually doing it. Then, when and IF there is a problem, then you have more resources to draw on. If you don't need to, then why do it?

If you can't find out your child is having serious problems without tearing apart their room and looking through their possessions, then maybe you need to work on your own style of parenting, because the problem may not lie in your child. Fostering open communications will be much more beneficial, as if they have a problem they DIDN'T write down in their diary, they can TALK TO YOU ABOUT IT THEMSELVES.

My mother had serious problems respecting my privacy as a child, but now I realize that she had some serious mental illnesses (now diagnosed and being treated thank god). I always thought that her reason of "ITS MY HOUSE AND YOUR MY SON AND I'LL DO WHATEVER I DAMN PLEASE" didn't quite make sense to me nor did I feel it was justified.


Side note - I had some serious problems as a kid, but ironically enough, my parents had no clue or concept of what was happening with me (despite going through my room and journal) until I came to them directly and asked for their help.

Lord Quasimoto said...

The problem with articles like these is it's so easy to reinforce these kind of behaviours. If a mother has doubts on her mind (and likely, googling her thoughts is what led her here), searching and finding this article will do nothing but make her think she or he is in the right. Even if everyone else reading disagrees.

Looking at the other comments one can see that this is pretty evident. But if this woman said 17 or 18, I bet every person here would be saying "more power to you."

Funny how actual age can make a difference but maturity won't.

The Big Squirrel said...

My mom and dad always gave me privacy, and now I wish they hadn't. As I get older, I realize more and more that all I wanted when I wrote those sad and conflicted journal entries when I was younger was for someone to listen, to read it and tell me that it's okay. But that's not how things went. And now, I am still sad and conflicted, and forced to keep it all inside because no one in my family cares enough to delve deeper. Of course, here I am being a hypocrite. I haven't even bothered to ask how they feel. But then again, I doubt anyone would tell me (I live with a passive-aggressive and private family). I came here because in the future, I don't want my children to have to go through the same thing. So, thank you.

Electrik Persona said...

I feel sorry for your kids. Reading their mail? Phone calls? Diary? Are you sane? They're humans just like you are (I would like to think). You're killing their soul by doing this. They will afraid forever. And even after you die, they will be afraid. Of doing anything. Because they will be sure that someone will be watching them, even if they aren't doing anything bad. Sorry, just like you think that they don't deserve privacy (as every human being does), I don't think you deserve to be a parent either.

N Reichert said...

lol I was raised that way as well, and I am NOT from the South. I grew up in rural country where we are still raised right :). The only thing I would change about my mom and I, would be a clearer line of communication. I never kept a diary so she couldn't read it, but I also never talked to her either. I am trying to fix that with my kids. Wish me luck :)

Chloe Coleman said...

If my parents read my diary, I simpy wouldn't write because a diary doesn't interrupt you, you don't have to carefully choose your words to not offend anyone in a diary, and a diary doesn't ground you, yell at you, or make you feel guilty. Reading a kids diary does more harm than good because if you read it then why write in it, its basically a newsletter, and that eliminates their trustworthy outlet of energy. Could you imagine if every angry thought you mumbled under your breath was broadcasted? Infact I would probably stop talking to you, why bother, just read it in my diary. I had an over protective dad and I just got creative, I had codes and I would never text anything to stop the paper trail, I got a twitter with my mom's permission and didn't tell my dad so that I could post what I wanted without a third degree. I would go to my friend's house to get ready for dances, give my friend the dress I wanted to wear a few days before, and bring the fake dress that my dad thought I would wear. Don't you see, you aren't making your kids safe, you're making them creative, trust me if I didn't have to sneak I wouldn't have done as much. Once you are sneaking, you can do what you want and you have a world of options of what you can do, all you need to do is figure out how. If my dad didn't spend so much time focused on the length of my shorts he probably would have caught on, good thing I didn't have privacy

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