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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Winter Hekimyan said…
I completely agree! Kids privacy = Kids parenting themselves. That means, you are leaving the decisions of important, sometimes life altering/changing/ending decisions to a child who can't make proper decisions yet. Yeah, there is NO privacy in my house so long as you are under age. And even if you are over 18, if you live in my house or need any part of my support, you still don't have ultimate privacy. It was the government that decided 18 was an adult and not because it's true. Kid's brains don't stop developing well into their 20's. So 18 or not, it is my responsibility and commitment to help my child grow and not just survive life but LIVE life to the fullest! I'm sure many don't agree, but when your kid is doing drugs/alcohol/gangs or pregnant before they are mature/old enough, then come talk to me about how useful privacy for a child really was!
Kim Shepperson said…
Hi I recently wrote you via email requesting permission to translate this post into slovak language. Is there a better way to contact you for this? thank you.
ally kat said…
I understand that you're trying to keep your children safe, but I think kids deserve to have some privacy. Kids are humans too and they don't wanna share every little detail with their parents. That's what friends and diaries are for! Yes it's important that parents know what's going on in their child's life and they are involved but sometimes you gotta step back and let them live their own life. As you know, strict parents create sneeky children
Th0usandMaster said…
I was a kid who never had privacy. My dad check me EVERYDAY from midday till midnight and even then, I managed to do drugs for 5 years straight without anyone knowing (from 13-18). I decided to stop taking drugs when I'm 18 because i just know better.
My point is that, if your kid really want to turn bad they probably could, even if you keep your eyes on everything they did.

I think finding the middle ground between what is privacy and what's not with your kid is the best idea and try not to strip them away of what they find precious. Also your love and your time is the most precious thing a kid could ever ask for.
Albert said…
throat punches just make sense in todays day and age plus sometimes you can look macho doing this.
Anonymous said…
I just have to warn you that it was actions like these that caused me, now 30 years old, to avoid my mother as much as possible now that I am out on my own. This may end up being your relationship with the children you are denying privacy to.
Jeanne Petty said…
AMEN!!! I am on board with your parenting style.
Faith said…
Brandy I'm so sorry your step-dad did that to you. But that is not the same thing as quietly reading the diary to be on the look out for something potentially troublesome. A good parent would read the diary quietly and not comment. If there was something they think should be addressed they would find a way to bring it up later in a way that didn't embarrass the child or make it obvious that they read it. I'm sorry you didn't have good parents.
Anonymous said…
Yeah no privacy in our home and that is why we constantly TEACH and show our children how to GET YOUR LIFE!! One thing we tell them is do what you want to do and not what you have to do in life by making good decisions now.

Wear Your Own Shoes Resale Boutique
Unknown said…
What a sad, misguided tirade in this post. Children are perceptive little people. Show them no trust and no privacy, and they will return the favor by getting creative to keep things from you- and showing you the same lack of respect you show them. As they grow up, they will already have formed the habit of keeping everything from you, and they will not confide in you because you are not trustworthy and show them no respect. I remember kids like yours in high school- the ones who hid everything in their school lockers and at their friends' houses- the ones whose parents thought they knew everything but really knew nothing at all about what their kids were really up to. Those kids, of course, engaged in significantly more dangerous behavior than the ones who felt they could talk to and confide in their parents. Build a foundation of trust, respect and open communication- not disrespect, distrust, and snooping.
Ashley Fuchs said…
AMEN, sister!!!! They can have privacy when they are 18 and paying fucking rent. Which is unlikely to happen in my house, because I'm their mother, not their BFF, and by then they will want to get the hell out of my house. Poor @Kim Bongiorno...but knowing her, she took it with her big girl panties on.
Tammi Martin said…
Thank you for blogging about this. A few years ago I probably would have been on the the other side of this issue but right now I'd have to agree with you. My son committed suicide 4 years ago and if I'd had the chance to read his diary (had he kept one, he didn't) and get some incite into how he was really feeling I might have been able to prevent his death. At the time I thought I knew my son well enough to know that he would never do something like that. It just goes to show that when someone is that sick with mental illness you can't understand what they are going threw unless you've been there yourself.
Anonymous said…
To Michelle- Kudo's to you for sharing. That cannot be easy.
My daughters are 4 and 1. They will have "privacy" when they are a legal adult and are on their own. Monitoring your children isn't "snooping", it is parenting. There is a reason they are not considered legal adults until age 18 and that is because they do not always make the right choices because their reasoning skills haven't fuly developed yet. Going through your parents belongings, that IS snooping, as they are legal adults and by now are able to make and be responsible for, their decisions.
I did typical things teens do- drank, smoked, snuck out of the house. And did I lie and hide it from my parents? Absolutely. I will do whatever I need to do to keep my kids safe. Stop being your kids' friend. Be their parent.
When you are an adult and are at work, your emails, phone calls, documents- they are all property of your employer and subject to review. Anythig inappropriate, you're fired. Try telling them, "you were snooping" and see how many of them will let you keep your job.
sciencemom said…
I would not violate my children's trust. I would not tell them that I would not read their diary and then do it. However, I am upfront with my children that I am their mom and they should not have secrets from me. If they don't know what to do with their emotions, with what is going through their heads or with something they have done we can work through it together. I am working hard to teach them from a young age that they will still face the natural consequences of their actions, but if they come to me for help they won't need to fear that we would reject them or that there will be angry punishment to pay them back for their honesty. My kids are luckily still young, but I taught high school and I know how quickly good kids can get over their heads if no-one knows what is going on. When my daughter got her first diary, I gave it to her and told her that she could use it for whatever she wanted, but that she should remember that Mom and Dad are here to share her secrets and help her if she is sad or afraid. So basically my kids have no reasonable expectation of privacy in our house, so going through their stuff is not a violation of their trust in the first place. Instead it is an exercise of my parental responsibilities.
Jen Piwtpitt said…
Hi Tammi, Thank you for your comment. My heart breaks for you and your loss. I'm so sorry to hear about your son. Who knows what would have made the difference in his decision? We can only do the best we can.
rmatousek32 said…
Yep! Anything they do I can and will read with one exception....the 13 year old's journal he does for therapy. His Dad and I both have depression (for me it is severe) and he is already showing the leanings towards it. Have had him in therapy and he, the youngest and I will be starting again as soon as we move because their Dad and I are getting divorced so I want to make sure they are talking it out with someone because unfortunately they have seen me in some pretty bad places emotionally and I think they try to keep it in to protect me. I tell them all the time that I don't want them to hold it in. If it upsets me that is alright but I would rather be upset and know they are talking than be ok and them hurting. The oldest holds a lot in and bottles it up but things he journals I don't read unless he has left them out. He knows I go in his room to do laundry and things and if I find something I AM GOING TO READ IT! It is not a secret. The younger one I read everything. He is easier to show emotion, like me, but he also has a hard time expressing how he feels. I have found some disturbing things he has written when angry and I am concerned. That is another reason for therapy with him. There is NO privacy in regards to the internet with them or anything else save the oldest's journal unless left out. I am trying to raise responsible, good citizens, and trying to help them make the best choices in life and I can't do that if I don't keep a close eye on what they are doing and being exposed to. I refuse to let them be those kids that feel entitled to EVERYTHING and responsible for NOTHING! I REFUSE to let that happen! This is the way too many kids are raised these days and that is why we have to "affluent" kid problems, disrespectful kids/adults, thugs who think they are the center of the world.
Carol said…
Love your blog and wish there were more parents like you! As a parent of teens I have had to commandeer their devices/accounts from time to time and I'm shocked how little other parents know about their own children - obviously we are a minority. I certainly don't monitor them on a daily basis (its pretty boring stuff), but if something seems a little suspicious, then I'll take a look and there's usually something going on that they hadn't fully told me. "Privacy is for changing clothes and going to the bathroom."
Anonymous said…
Anna, you are awesome. Way to back up your mom. I HATE judgey people- having a differing opinion is one thing; telling someone that their child will never want anything to do with them because of their parenting is ridiculously offensive.
I call my mom several times a day. I am 44 with 2 young kids of my own, I work full time as an administrative educator. My mom snooped in my stuff and believe me you I got grounded for a good long while on the occasions I got caught lying and doing what I wasn't supposed to do. I went to college and definitely sowed my wild oats, but came out the end just fine. I've been independent from my parents since graduation. And I plan on monitoring my kids even more closely than my parents did because I know all the bad stuff I did that I DIDN'T get caught for.
My mom is my best friend- she didn't lose me because she was strict. She gained my respect for being my parent and being able to see that is what's needed when you are young.
GammaRay said…
I had really shitty parents, who were selfish, wrapped up in their own misery and more than willing to dole some out just so they wouldn't feel alone in their suffering. My mom was nothing like you, and I had no one to trust. So I bought a journal to write my feelings into. It made me feel safe to let my pain and anger out onto paper. So I locked it and stuffed it under my mattress. I'll never forget the day I found out she (and my step monster) had read it. For them it was entertainment and made snide comments in regards to the contents. Now I'd been through some serious shit that screws up most kids and my mom was a huge part of the problem. She didn't read my diary to help me, but to find out if it could be used against her and/or my biological dad. I have trust issues because of it and never forgave them for their crap.
jtwizz said…
AMEN SISTA! *holds up a fist in solidarity*
Mick said…
If you think your childrens diaries are too sacred to read, you might be watching them on YouTube unfold right before the next mass murder. Just sayin!
Rory Bore said…
I think I would leave a diary alone, as long as I saw signs that nothing was amiss in the child. I think you should be entitled to your private thoughts. But....your room? MINE kiddo. you're just occupying it until that day I can help you pack and send you off. Absolutely all items in my house are subject to search and seizure. Including your electronics. Abso-fricking-lutely.
sorry not sorry
Unknown said…
Don't you think that if they KNOW you are reading their diaries that they won't actually write things they don't want you to know? Just because they are kids doesn't mean they are stupid.

Plus you just brushing off the fact that your emails and phone calls are gone through as just something you have to accept is disturbing.

There was someone who said a true open and honest relationship would have spouses reading each others emails and having each others passwords?! NOT doing that does NOT automatically equate a bad relationship. What kind of crap is that to plant into peoples minds?

Usually your posts crack me up. This one was just irritating.
Unknown said…
This is ridiculous. Your brain is broken.
Danielle Adams said…
I was about to disagree considering I grew up with SOME privacy as I got older and I turned out fine but however there are other people that also got extra privacy in my family and I can't say the same for them.

Really glad I read this post. I am now reconsidering how I will parent in the future if I ever become one.

No privacy!
MBournas said…
I agree with you 100%. My mom told me that she used to search my room every morning when I left for school and read all the notes my friends and I used to pass to each other. I was always required to tell them where I was going, who I was with and when I'd be back. I'm pretty sure she threatened my first boyfriend behind my back. I now am grown with 3 young boys and you better believe I will use try to stalk whatever electronic equivalent there is passing notes when they get older. Once they are adults and living on their own and I babysit their kids, I promise I won't snoop through their drawers, but as long as I'm responsible for making them good human beings, there is no privacy. Afterall, they still follow me into the bathroom to pee, I don't get privacy, why should they?
Brad Verquer said…
receive mental help. biggest crap i have heard on theses comments is destructive parenting being called good for a child. its called an open conversation,i bet you dont know how to have one. ill pray your children are not mentally unstable because of you.
Brad Verquer said…
you need help lady
Holly woods said…
What happens when the "child" is the one making the only reasonable decisions in the house? hmm is the "child" allowed to completely disregard their parents privacy? NO they aren't. Now all of you idiotic parents who think this is okay listen up, PRIVACY IS A BASIC HUMAN RIGHT. Say it with me this time PRIVACY IS A BASIC HUMAN RIGHT, age has absolutely no affect on it. Now if you keep thinking along these thought lines not only will your children resent you for a very long time but they will figure out how to get around your privacy invasions and trust me they will never ever willingly trust you with anything. So if you're suspicious that your child is going through something tough you should talk to them, not completely disregard any feelings/privacy they may have. So basically STOP BEING FUCKING CREEPY TERRIBLE PARENTS AND LEARN HOW TO BE A DECENT HUMAN BEING AND TALK TO YOUR CHILDREN YOU WET NOODLES.
Holly woods said…
"There is a reason people can't make major decisions until they're 18" now see I have a problem with this. I can understand and weigh both sides to a situation and make a logical decision without having to call my mommy and make sure I'm doing everything right. I am currently 16 but in 2 months when i turn 17 I am moving out. So yes you can make a major life decision under 18 years old. At this point right now I already have more of a career than my parents ever will. Maybe the problem here isn't the fact that all of you cannot fathom how creepy you are but that your children are valid logically thinking humans. And yes I completely understand that some of you will read this and go "oh well she's only 16 what does she know?" or "Oh she's 16 her argument is invalid" and if you do that then you are part of the problem.Children can and will make their own decisions, you should support them not disregard what they say because of their age.
Holly woods said…
Either I'm missing some sarcasm here or you are not only a terrible parent but a terrible person.
Holly woods said…
I don't think that you should password lock your childs ability to delete their own texts. I know from experience sometimes you don't want texts anymore because of whatever reason or ya know texts take up a lot of memory
Holly woods said…
It's not "if you do snoop or if you don't snoop" its "can you find the balance"
Holly woods said…
Anonymous said…

So I understand the going-through texts thing and your phone, and perhaps monitoring their emails until a certain age (say, high school); however, journals and diaries are a place for children to express themselves. Unless you think that there is a serious issue going on and have good reason to think so, I do not think that you should go through their diaries/journals. I know that I kept a diary, and I never wrote anything bad in there, but if my parents had snooped through it or read it (which they didn't), I know that I would not have been honest, felt free to express myself, or experimented with various writing styles. Also, I think that you should always tell them that you are looking through their phones, emails, et cetera, because they do have a right to know. If I had found that my parents had been reading my emails or diary entries without telling me, I would have felt violated and lost my trust in them; however, by having an open policy, I would have at least felt that they were being honest with me and genuinely felt concerned/caring towards me rather than that they were simply snooping. :)
jesse teates said…
I want to punch the guy who wrote this article.
Ashley Granger said…
I too wish my mom had read some of the things I was writing. I didn't know how to ask for help and I was severely depressed and had an abusive boyfriend. Even at the time, I was wishing my parents would read my journal. Based on my experiences, if/when I have children, I will do my best to make sure they know they can talk to me about anything, and reach out to them so I know what is going on in their lives.
Ashley Granger said…
Yes. She is five. She may not understand the consequences of her mother's decision but really, what consequences are we talking about?? It was a five-year-old's thoughts about how much she loves things. People need to chill out. Do you really think this blogger would have posted pictures if there had been anything written that her daughter might have regretted later?? Is her daughter going to look back in 10 years and go "Oh my God mom, how could let people know I love things???" I can understand all the uproar if the child were older and these were private thoughts, but this is a five-year-old writing happy thoughts who gave her mother permission to let people see it. I can see the controversy surrounding the idea of reading her daughter's journal, but not all the outrage over the pictures.
Ashley Granger said…
Considering the amount of room available on today's cell phones, there isn't a huge danger of not having enough space. I don't necessarily agree with checking your children's text messages, but TNMom has a point that they can easily be deleted, and this would be a good option to have.
Ashley Granger said…
"burst your little bit of latent histrionics"?? REALLY?! I'm so glad that from her heart-wrenching story you were able to educate her on the fact that even though she was suicidal, which is a problem, and thought she would die, she wouldn't have really. Thank you so much for that science lesson, jerk. I don't now you, but I hate you right now. A lot.
Ashley Granger said…
I'm not sure checking your children's text messages and reading their diary ruins their entire adult life. I mean really, checking their facebook is "ruining their soul"? Little dramatic there.
Ashley Granger said…
But kids whose parents know nothing about their lives grow up to be perfect angels? Probably not. I think I would go on the side of caution and worry about my children having less privacy over my children doing whatever the hell they want and just assuming that their adolescent minds are making awesome decisions for themselves.
Anonymous said…
If you (a parent) monitors the child's diaries, emails etc. with the intent of preventing her/him from doing wrong, how would you define the 'doing wrong'? For example, if the child develops a hobby such as painting that the parent is not happy about, that would be considered as wrong and the consequence, disastrous
If kids think that they don't have a right to privacy but parents do they are likely to develop the notion that growing up and getting out is the ticket to limitless freedom and start working solely to earn and break free
Whether children are monitored with/without their knowledge they can/will evade when they want to. Kids grasp technology faster and once they figure it out, the same "banned " activities are likely to continue without parents knowledge
If someone wants to frame your child and posts a lewd video showing the child indulging in activities which the latter is not even aware of, and you happen to see it before the child does. How would you know how to handle the situation, an erred judgement would result in disaster. The child in such a situation would need support, not the wrath of a parent.
Ryan Spanier said…
I beg you to stop. There is no way to do what you are doing without damaging your son's sense of self worth.

While he lives with you, you have the power to check his phone. Once he moves out, you won't have the power to make him pick it up. My parents can tell you all about it.
SwiftieRED13 said…
Okay seriously? I don't even write down everything I'm going through in my diary, just in case someone could get ahold of it. I'm 16, I'm verbally abused I have Depression, self-hatred, self-harm through music, Anxiety, OCD, Paranoia, Social Anxiety and Dislexia. I've always kept that to myself and held it all inside, because I like being secretive about it. It makes me feel more brave and idependant if I can do it on my own. I understand checking their phones, and their twitter accounts, facebook you know stuff like that! Because they could be sending nudes and being little asswipes. But I don't think you should have a say on who they're talking to, UNLESS you know that person is damaging them. And, I 100% DON'T THINK, You should get a say in what they're talking about! If its not sexting, let them be! Personally my mom and I both have a dirty mind and we're VERY open about that kind of stuff so I'm allowed to make jokes with my friends about dirty stuff. Do we send pictures, sext? No we just use humor. If you were my mom, you'd probably find that unaccecptable to me its just part of growing up I mean seriously.
And honestly, not being a bitch here? But what makes you think that they don't have secret twitter accounts ect? My mom had NO clue I had a twitter account or had a youtube account I posted videos on every week. Absolutely no clue, until I told her. And now after like my whole life,, at 16 my mom and I are very close! And I do talk about my mental illness with her now, she has me on nice medication and tries to protect me from my stepdads verbal abuse. But its MY choice and MY choice alone to share that information! My diary is MY diary and she has made it very clear she won't read through it because well first of all I'm homeschooled, I mean I'm not hiding a boyfriend or sex or drugs lol AND because she knows I'm a pretty good kid and she's proud of me. Plus you don't have to watch anything you say in your diary! You don't have to hold back on cursing ect and it makes you feel so much better after a good rant. Well yesterday, my stepdad read my diary. That's just a new personal low. Now he's mad, because I called him a dick in my diary multiple times and other words that I wont type out right now haha But you know what he deserves it. He had no business reading through my diary BECAUSE IT IS MY DAMN DIARY!
LaurelMia said…
"Kids need to get away with little things so they don't feel the need to get away with big things." AMEN!

Hey I get that you want to keep your kids safe. And if your kid has done something BAD, go ahead and spy. ("BAD" = drugs, assault and battery, etc.) But keep in mind this is what abusive men do to their wives. I don't want to teach my well-behaved daughter that it's okay for people to take away her right to privacy.

One more thing, when I was a teenager, I did not want to have sex, do drugs, or inflict injury on myself. I knew there would be consequences, and they'd be bad. This was back in the 70's...teens are a whole lot smarter now! Give them a little freaking credit people. They can and do think for themselves. At least they will until you start convincing them they can't.

Anonymous said…
By your logic, If you where visiting your children when they are adults, and stayed a few nights, since you would be under their roof, you would have ZERO privacy. They would have access to your phone, computer, emails, texts, EVERYTHING.

My parents used to not let me have privacy. I just found more ways to keep secrets. I have gotten really good at it. They realized that I have a right to privacy as much as they do, so now I have pretty much all the privacy I could wish for. Their 13 year old boy (me), has not become an "entitled asshole" because of it.
Anonymous said…
You to? Awesome.
Anonymous said…
I was raised by my grandmother. If she'd read my journal, I wouldn't have had a home anymore -- she would have kicked me out for being bisexual.

Maybe you're some perfect special snowflake who would NEVER do anything to hurt your kids (hah, not likely), but not everyone is you. Kids deserve privacy.
Deanna said…
I agree with you Karisa. Monitor your child's social interactions on every platform they have a user ID but it is extremely disrespectful to read a child's personal diary. If they are acting inappropriately you will see that in emails/texts/chats/photos etc. What an invasion of privacy regardless of who's roof you live under.
UM...is it okay to substitute "husbands" for "kids"??
Fred Tenzer said…
What does it mean if a man tells you "My daughter mistakenly sent you email while I was away and my friends were watching over her", the man said this only when or after you contacted the man (as opposed to if you had never contacted the man in the first place), and the daughter in question initiated the email correspondence she used to have with you? The facts are that you are not dangerous and you have never solicited the man's daughter for (I cannot say it). How can you legally prove the fact that you are not dangerous, that you are not a (I cannot say it), and that you are on the level? Please answer all of the questions and please reply.
Clay Parenti said…
In the UN Convention on the rights of the child, one of the rights mentioned is the right to privacy.


See Article 16:

1. "No child shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawfull interference with his or her privacy,family, or corresopondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his or her honor and reputation. "

2. "The child has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attempts."

Every nation in the world has ratified this, with the sole exception of the USA and Somalia. Even Iran, Syria and North Korea. Think about that!
Carolina G V said…
I have an idea. Why don't you just talk, really listening, with your daughter. Communicating is better than spying on your children. Don't you trust yourself as a parent? If you are doing your job, then your children will make the right choices by themselves little by little.
If you try to control everything they will just try harder to push you away. Believe me when I tell you that your daughter, one day, will do the craziest thing to hide from you.
StrangeCalibur said…
I don't know why people are one extreme or the other here, it depends on the age and how you educate your children, when they are very young encourage them to bring everything to you, as they get older give more freedom. I have problems with both arguments here, on the they have to tell me everything and let me read everything they write and do until they move out? No, parents will not be there forever, they need to learn to make decisions by themselves, as scary as this is for parents, if you do this, when your gone your child will be unable to survive in the real world. Kids don't have to tell parents anything? Well again big problem when younger as kids are impressionable, I don't think there should be anything in a child's life before teenage years that should be kept from a parent..... really 13 and up children should be taught to keep secretes responsibly. Most importantly they should feel like they can come to their parents when they mess up. If you raise someone who doesn't really understand the concept of keeping something from someone they wont be able to see it when they are being made a fool of, scams and the like. I have always known my parents are there for me, sure I didn't tell them everything when I was younger or now, but I knew they where there for me when things got bad. Personally I learnt a lot from the mistakes I made, not from the mistakes I was protected from. Yes bad things can happen but I hate to say the world is a bad place, if your children make it to 18 not really understanding this concept (Most people don't understand until it happens to them), then when your gone from their lives and something happens they will be completely unable to cope. I understand the urge to protect your children, your not wrong to want to do that, but step back and look at the bigger picture. If I died tomorrow, would my children be able to look after themselves? Or have a created a adult that will always have to rely on someone else to live their lives. I don't think this is a simple problem, every child is different and has different needs, requires different parenting and attention, but in my opinion, no problem has a black or white answer aside from "Should I buy a black car or white car".
StrangeCalibur said…
One last thing thing that is disturbing me here, parents are telling their kids they shouldn't lie and shouldn't keep things from them.....but a lot of people are posting about reading their kids diary, then advocate lying about it. Feels like "Its ok to lie to people when you have power over them".
Snow Flakes said…
There's the thing that I agree and disagree.
I am product of parents that have no respect of the privacy of their children. My father read my diary and confront me for what I write just because I write something that he disagrees with. He even punish me for what I thought in my own diary. Even there's nothing wrong what I thought (just kind of day dream about my own future). The next diary I write he even write curses word on it because he hated my thought, or my personal opinions. My mother once read my diary about how miserable I felt in this house, and crying in front of me because apparently she is hurt because I wrote that. She feel betrayed because I feel that way, not even thinking how I feel really betrayed by their doing, I have no safe place anymore to think by myself and formed my own thoughts because even my own thoughts need to be controlled.
We are family with six children and I am the eldest daughter. When I'm young we don't even have our own bedroom. Till now, the children bedrooms have no lock on it. My father busted all the key, because it is his house and we can't lock our door in HIS house. We can't have privacy.
And now, my father and mother have to deal with 3 from six of her children having mental issues. Including me. I have social anxiety and panic attack. I have even formed PTSD, but this one because of my marriage that been forced on me by them. Yet at the same time my failed marriage also because I have mental problem from the first place that been nurtured since I'm a child and having not understanding husband add on that. From the age of 11 I already have suicidal tendencies. I want to die as fast as I can, because I thought I'm no longer have any right to really live anymore. I'm afraid of my parents, I feel there's no safe place in this earth anymore and I just want to die. Right now, my social anxiety is getting worse and worse. I cut off communications with my friends (because some of them apparently reported my thoughts and my feelings that I trusted them with to my mother, who then blame me again because I said too many things to outsiders), I don't meet people most importantly people who knew me. My parents after getting advised by a therapist are now allowing me having my own bedroom and I can close the door even thought it still don't have lock. I need a safe place, the therapist said.
Snow Flakes said…
...My third younger sister has schizophrenia, formed by yearly abuse in her own house and bullying in her own school. This also because she can't and not brave enough to standing for herself and voicing her opinion because she learn she don't have that right since she is a child. The therapist said that the monster she formed in her own head keep telling her not to trust her own family, that her family is going to kill her.
My fourth younger brother becoming antisocial. Have social anxiety, the same as me. He is now like a hermit in his own bedroom and just interacting with people online, not in real life as an anonymous. Because online is the only place he can feel safe and be himself out of our parents reach. He always hid every time my parents ask him to greet relatives or guests.
The other 3 children, they don't have any problem. Because they can be brave enough to say anything and my parents don't punish them because they always saying what my parents wanted to hear. They don't like diaries, they are very social person. They are smart enough to avoid my parents eyes on them. This not mean they don't have privacy, they just smart enough to hid it from them.
We are not trusting our parents anymore. I almost got sexually abused by a teenager when I'm still 7 year old, yet till now my parents doesn't know that. Because even though I'm afraid of that predator, my parents embrace is not the place where I can feel safe.
There's the only thing that my parents are succeeded at, we are not hanging out with the wrong crowds. Because we have no friends in the first place. My parents have already open my facebook account and read every private chat I did with my parents. I delete that account, because it is better to not having it if I can't feel safe chatting in the first place. We have almost zero trust on people, so we keep them at length arms.
But even though I'm like this right now, I do agree that you as a parent have a very heavy responsibility to keep your children safe and out of problems. I actually agree that you're allowed and can read their diaries, open the lock of their drawers it is all within your authorities. But don't betray their trust. Don't tell them you found out something because you read their diaries. Let them keep the illusion of safe place they can have. Because when you said you read their diaries, you just sever the only bond of trust they have on their parents. When you find something you find concerning, be a smart parents. I think you're smart enough to sit and persuading your child to tell them their problems by their own will. If there's trust they will tell you. Sit together, hear their thoughts and concerns without blaming them, because it is normal for every human being to have their own opinions. If you disagree, have mature discussion with them. They will learn to be mature at the same time. Exchange your thoughts with each other because it's not supposed to be you (parents) vs them (children), but you and your children against the world. The world is scary place, I know that's why you are so paranoid. But the children knows that too, every time they feel like being pushed into something they feel wrong to do by their friends they want to cope to you, don't make them fear you. Embrace their insecurities. So they won't need diaries anymore. They already have you. The time when they already fear you rather than feeling safe, you already lost them.
Mats Pohland said…
This is really shocking, why do you think your kids could kill themselves or others or post pictures of naked girls or whatever it was you were fantasizing about? If you treat them normally they will most probably turn out normally. They will have their little secrets which they are entitled to have!It seems you have a complete lack of trust. I have three teenage sons and they certainly don't tell me everything (and I don't want to know the details)... We chat alot, I basically know they are healthy, happy boys... I found your post very disconcerting, even scary.Only if I really felt something is wrong, then I would hunt for clues. But I would never make it a rule that "there is no privacy". Horrible thought.
Ladynarman said…
I disagree that this is good parenting, let alone effective. I mean i'd see it working if the child was stupid and asked their parents anything and everything, even after getting scolded and punished for it multiple times in the past. If you want to hear about what your child is doing outside of home, don't react so largely to any small little thing they do that isn't perfect. Even if your child does something slightly wrong but it's fine, just let it go. Don't try to dictate how they should live their life. Once you start doing that, if your child had any sense in their head, they wouldn't tell you ANYTHING from then on. They'd actively lie to you every step of the way. My parents were somewhat flexible. My friend's parents were the type that thought they have absolute control over their kids. So what did my friends do? They'd hide everything from them. Erase all texts as soon as they are read. Change names on address books to someone else the parents know from a long time ago. Not even have a facebook so there's no record of anything they do. Keep anything the slightest secretive at someone else's house or hidden some place else. And i mean these kids weren't doing meth. They were enjoying the occasional alcohol at small parties.
If your goal is to dictate exactly how they'll live and what they are to think and do, then you're doing it right. If your goal is to keep them safe, then you'd want them to trust you enough to call you at 3am when their friend who drives is too drunk to drive safely and they'll surely get in trouble if they're not home by a certain time.
Samantha Sudick said…
First, let me say that I'm 20, and not a parent. I think there's a middle ground to this debate. On one hand, searching your child's phone, and knowing where they are and what they're doing is reasonable. You're in charge of their safety, and you pay for that pone. ON the other hand, a diary is meant to be a safe space to mentally dump, and children should have the right to that safe space.
Stephanie Marie said…

This is frightening. Anybody who thinks that children do not have the basic human right to privacy should not have children. Its painfully obvious that this is all deeply rooted in your own lack of privacy as children and not rooted in any factual evidence that stripping children of their privacy teaches them anything, or keeps them safe in any way, shape, or form.

You absolute nutjobs are killing your children, and that's not an opinion, its fact. From a psychological perspective, humans cannot function normally without privacy. The human brain needs time to process the information it takes on a regular basis and having ‘alone time’ is a big part of that. Privacy is also important in the formation of healthy interpersonal relationships because it teaches people the importance of personal boundaries and things like consent.
Not giving any person, let alone a child, the basic human right of privacy is extremely likely to lead to disorders such as borderline personality disorder as there is no identity outside of what is externally implied on them. Its also extremely likely to lead to behavioral disorders, especially those that violate other peoples personal space. These are all proven facts.

You know who else doesn't get the right to privacy? Prison inmates. Murders, rapists, and other criminals. As a form of psychological punishment. This is why prisoners are more likely to commit sex crimes when they leave prison; because the concept of boundaries has been completely eroded.

Also, stop pretending like this has anything to do with any kind of ‘lesson’ for the real world. I don’t know what planet some of you people live on, but in the real world, there most certainly is such thing as privacy and it is expected to be respected both from a social and legal perspective.

You people are mentally ill and need to seek help, point blank period. Reading a child's dairy is not considered by any parenting professionals to be remotely healthy, and in fact, this kind of lack of boundaries is proven to cause severe psychological damage to children.
Stephanie Marie said…
Just look at some of the sick people commenting here and what their idea of 'discussion' is.

"AMEN SISTA! *holds up a fist in solidarity*"

"lol I was raised that way as well, and I am NOT from the South."

These are parents? How typical! The same people who believe their children aren't entitled to privacy are the same people still typing like preteens.

These 'parents' are completely uneducated, self-righteous tools trying desperately to justify their actions through empty fallacious arguments.

"Look! Someone else abuses their child too! And she's a New York Times best-selling author?! I must be doing everything right!"


How about learn to form a healthy interpersonal relationship with your child. Drop this silly "I'm a parent, not a pal" approach. This is the definition of extremism. Who says you can't be both?

Children base their relationship with others on their relationship with their parents. Teaching children to blindly 'respect' adults is one of the most toxic and damaging things you could ever do. This is exactly how young kids end up in abusive 'relationships' with pedophiles and predators. It's very contradictive to teach kids to respect adults while at the same time teaching them about the dangers many adults pose. It doesn't matter if you're 5 or 25; you respect people who give you respect.

I sincerely believe parents, most notably mothers, who share this ideology suffer from the Jocasta Complex, which is a subconscious sexual desire for their child of the opposite sex. This is exactly why you see similarities between this type of mothering and toxic intimate relationships. The kind of toxic intimate relationships in which spouses install GPS trackers on their partner's vehicle and take part in other trust eroding practices. This is exactly why you, unfortunately, often see sexual and physical abuse coming from these 'overprotective' parents. Sometimes this even manifests in dangerous conditions like Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy. A 4-year-old boy was recently murdered by his mother, who forced him to overdose on salt because she insisted he was 'sick' and that she was 'treating him'. The boy, of course, was not sick. The mother was.

Somewhere deep in their psychologically damaged heads, these people believe they are in an intimate relationship with their child! It's quite sick and it demands treatment.
Stephanie Marie said…
As another person so brilliantly pointed out, usually parents who are paranoid that their children will do something terrible if they are given basic rights and freedoms are the ones with sick fantasies and impulses themselves. If the first thing on your mind when you see your child on a computer or smartphone is them being exposed to pornography, then you have a sick mind and you are projecting your repressed fantasies onto your children.

It takes a seriously deranged person to have the need to control what type of music their kids listen to and what they write in their diary. Again, you are projecting your insecurities and fragility onto your children. Its almost like you honestly believe that if you don't read your 15-year-old daughters' diary and invade her personal, healthy sexual thoughts, that she will turn into a promiscuous 'whore' and get pregnant at a young age. Why do you believe this? Because you are a fragile person with mentally sick impulses, and you make the false assumption that your child has these same impulses.

If you're raising your children properly there is no reason them having privacy would lead to any harmful or questionable activities. The only reason you would need to practice this kind of 'smother mothering' is if you have failed to properly educate your child and have failed to instill the proper morals in them.

By the way, children can't learn consequences when they are constantly protected from being exposed to said consequences. Take Alcohol consumption as a random, hypothetical example. It is statistically proven that cultures who are more 'liberal' when it comes to the consumption of alcohol by minors have significantly lower rates of Alcoholism. Don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting you encourage young children to consume alcohol, I'm merely pointed out one of the many examples as to why this style of hyper-controlling parenting is ineffective.

Children who have their thoughts and feelings 'repressed', especially if those thoughts and feelings are the results of natural biological occurrences, are simply far more likely to act on those feelings in potentially self-destructive manners. It's not like you can control your child 24/7 for their entire life, although many laughably think they can.

I can't help but laugh when I see parents like this who believe they are outsmarting their kids, when in fact these people are denser than lead. As someone, who like everyone else, has been a kid, I remember vividly that often times the worst behaved among my peers were those raised in strict, conservative, religious households. The most disturbing part is that the parents of these kids were often the ones who were the MOST oblivious as to what their children were actually doing.

They are all far too busy patting themselves on the back for dominating their child. Seriously, WHY is it always these psychotic nutjobs who write mommy-blogs and parenting books? Be wary of anyone who shows this much self-praise of their abilities. Very few of these people have any real educational background in human psychology and even fewer have successful children to show for their self-proclaimed 'expertise'. Being a new york times best selling author in 2018 means zip!
Twin mom said…
Did anyone notice this is from 2013? second this way of thinking is a slippery slope to terrible relationship with any children you have. As a parent our ultimate job is to teach our kids how to be self sufficient and productive. Yes they make stupid choices and do amazingly dumb things but a child's feelings are just like anyone else's. They can feel betrayed and bullied and smothered. Is that really kind of relationship you want to have? One where they either end up a future partners doormat who don't even see the boundary issues or hit 18 and you never hear from them again? There has to be a balance. Stern and yeah this house is yours and you are in charge but just cause you are the adult doesn't meant you don't make mistakes. Unless you se justifiable change in behaviors , fear drugs or abuse. It is a huge violation . You are also missing an opportunity for your child to tell you themselves. Have you met a kid that doesn't want to share at that age? Doesn't want to show you how good their letter K is coming along or latest stuffed animal they are obsessed with,ect.Truly is your choice what kind of mom to be but seeing as it is now 2018 how is this strategy working for you?
Alexei said…
parents like you are what cause children to grow up insecure, anxious, and paranoid. studies show that people like you raise better liars, and children who don't trust their parents with anything.

the way you treat your children makes it very clear that you don't view them as human beings, you see them as your property. you clearly aren't meant to be a parent.
dm718 said…
I'm sure I'm late to the party on this since I came here from TVTropes, but I need to get my view out here.

I'm a 21 year old kid raised in a Hispanic and Catholic family and household.
When I was 15 I realized I was bisexual.
Given the fact that Hispanics and Catholics don't take kindly to homosexuality, as well as my family's checkered acceptance of them (us?) in the past, I'm STILL doing everything I can to keep it from them. I've heard my family mocking queer people, telling me to stay away from them, but also keeping friendly (yet loose) terms with my cousin and her wife.

There have been a handful of occasions in which my dad nearly interrogated me Jack Bauer-style about my sexuality. Three days ago, a friend of mine got kicked out (by family!!!) for being transgender.

You say that you forbid your children to keep secrets in order to protect their safety. Which is exactly why I'm keeping this secret. I don't want to end up sleeping in my car and fending for myself and hoping that the LGBT shelters have space for me.

I'm keeping this secret so that I can be safe, and so my family can still love me.
Roland Rocke said…
I am a workaholic, as much as I try to keep track of what is going on in my home with the kids and much more when they are at school or off on vacation, I couldn't have done with without the help of nothing short of a great friend, I am happy to share my experience with my own special Houdini that always delivers. I was able to get in touch with their organization through a blog called onlinelegitutility dot co. They have great stuff on there and you can hire a hacker through darkwebsolutions dot co.
Sam Tabako said…
While I have no right to tell you how to raise children, I do believe that privacy was an important part of my life. Knowing my parents trusted me and saw me as a human being with boundaries just like everyone else comforted me. During my time dealing with suicidal depression, I let my parents know all that they needed to and I took comfort in the little control I had over my own life. Were it not for my sense of privacy, I'd be hanging from the ceiling of the room my brother and I used to share. I fully believe that while children definitely do NOT know everything, but it is important that we note that nobody truly does. Arrogant parents that think they are perfect are the ones that I want to punch in the throat. I have always believed that the parents' job is to teach their children right from wrong while developing their own opinions and worldviews. I know from experience that a good parent shouldn't need to sift through their child's belongings. Good parents WILL find out about the dangerous stuff without having to break their child's trust. Trust is a valuable thing to have. When someone trusts you, they are willing to ease their boundaries and become more open to you. Eventually, your children will have their own lives. you'll stop being able to fully control their actions. For the first time, they'll feel like human beings with their own free will. It's a huge gamble whether your children will respect what you told them, or finally feel "free" of your strict bounds and proceed to contradict everything they've been taught because they finally can. I've seen it all too many times. Strict parents becoming overpowered by their children's rebelliousness. Rebelliousness that we would all end up with, had our lives been decided by someone else while we were mentally developed enough to become a different person with a different view of our world. I know for a fact because I've seen it. Privacy isn't the issue, but those who lack it end up... well, the exact same way all parents worry their children will become.
Unknown said…
This is sick. I feel bad for your children. I knew mothers like you when I was a lad and their kids turned out to be socially awkward or psychotic. Children should be taught to be self reliant and critical thinkers not prisoners in their own homes. It doesn't sound like you are parenting it sounds like your are just a nosey person and a control freak. How dare you read someone's diary that so scummy.
Anonymous said…
Honestly all of you have failed completely at parenting. Privacy is a human right and if you're breaching your child's basic rights then you should seriously reconsider what you call 'parenting'. Your kids are being damaged by this and will live the rest of their lives doubting their privacy. The fact that you are resorting to this site makes me realize just how pathetic you all are.

Shadow Habaki said…
If you see nothing wrong with Kim reading her daughter's diary, then you're obviously a criminal because that IS illegal, parent or no parent .
Also since your kids have no right to their own privacy (which is a basic civil right) then I bet you also walk in on them masturbating, you pervert.
There was everything wrong with what she did, and there's everything wrong with what you do. Give up your kids to Foster care or be arrested and charged with child abuse.
In regards to what Shadow Habaki said"
"If you see nothing wrong with Kim reading her daughter's diary, then you're obviously a criminal because that IS illegal, parent or no parent .
Also since your kids have no right to their own privacy (which is a basic civil right) then I bet you also walk in on them masturbating, you pervert.
There was everything wrong with what she did, and there's everything wrong with what you do. Give up your kids to Foster care or be arrested and charged with child abuse."

In her book about being the mother of one of the Columbine shooters (who killed 12 students, 1 teachers, and injured 21 more), Sue Klebold frankly talks about how she wished she had looked in her son’s diary. He was a sweet, shy, good kid, so she didn’t check in. Take a peek as a temperature check of sorts, make sure all was well, keep whatever she saw to herself, and then moved on. Because if she had, she would have seen evidence that he was being influenced by a much stronger personality, this friend who had persuaded him to plan out a mass murder at his school together, then kill themselves.
A peek into his diary could have prevented 15 deaths, 21+ injuries.
Here’s the book, to better understand this perspective:

There are quite a few interesting articles in Psychology Today about how while there are things in place that assure privacy to minors, it also gives them the right to safety from violence and exploitation, which can often only be fully understood as happening or about to happen to them by an adult who can tell by looking at diaries/texts/etc. when their child is being groomed by a romantic interest, peer, or online influence to cause or become the subject of violence/exploitation. Thus, to protect the minor’s rights to this safety, it is in that child’s best interests for their parents to check in on them. Read the diaries, look under the mattress, look at their texts.

That being said, I see a lot of hurt in the comments section (both here and in the original article). Hurt people hurt people, and in this case it seems like a lot of commenters have had people use the information gleaned by a look at their private thoughts at weapons against them, not data to keep them safe. For that, I am sorry. No one deserves to be hurt like that. Being hurt like that takes a long time to recover from, and can blur the vision when reading an essay like this. It makes it almost impossible to see that most parents peek into diaries to get intel on their kids’ safety, and do not use it to hurt them. In fact, that is the normal way to use that information. Not the harmful way.

As for the comment about walking in on masturbation and being a pervert, there is a long, long leap between trying to protect one’s child from online and real-life predators (including mental distress/illness) and being the kind of person who automatically associates a child’s privacy with sexual acts such as unlocked-door masturbation.
This makes me assume two things after reading the comment a few times.
One, something awful happened to the commenter in a similar vein that they are still traumatized by, and for that I hope they get the help they deserve to recover.
Or two, they are prematurely sexualizing minors and have some deeply held belief that any adult would be attracted to that, including the parent. Again, that sounds like something that is a problem stemming from a trauma or experience I genuinely wish they would talk to a professional about, because I can promise them that most people who want their children safe and healthy—like Jen, like me—do not view familial relationships in this way. One can love without sexuality being even a flicker in the way-backs of their mind, as most of us parents do.
Anonymous said…
Hello! I am just here to warn you: I was raised with very little privacy. At 12 I was spending my days in a cardboard box because its the only place I could 'close the door'. At 13 my mom went through my diary. Fast-forward me at 16: I now moved out of the house. I couldn't take it. Fast-forward me from 16 to 24: I was doing drugs every week. Not saying it's my dear mom's fault, but she had made me miserable and the contrast with the freedom I now had made it that I engaged in tons of questionable activities. I was still a very sad person. I keep everyone away because my boundaries had been stepped over for so long that I can't tolerate anyone now. So give your little girl a breather. Have trust in her judgement. Supervise but don't police her. And I agree with the other comments : perhaps you are the one who needs help. My mom was diagnosed with delusional paranoia and depression. Just saying.
Shadow Habaki said…
No right to privacy means watching them shower and get dressed, sleep, or look at "hornonal stuff". I'm glad my parents let me have privacy .As for you? You sound like a creepy stalker. Diary invasion is illegal and you can actually face state prison time .
Anonymous said…
I am writing to you as a person whose parents had the habit, and still have now that I am 26, of going trough my things, my text messages, my emails, everything. And this made me lie, because anything I would do was checked on, evry single step I took was under this Big Brother eye, and discussed when observed-why did you say you like this item of clothing ? It's awful. Why are you reading that book ? I was not aware of it. Bare in mind it was nothing bad, it was Lord ofthe Rings. This no boundaries, parents going trough my things and conversations as I grew older, made me lose completely any trust I had in them. I never watched porn, drugs, smoked, i got a bit drunk once as a 21 years old and never will do it again, and for years I got absolutely no right to privacy or trust, because I was only a kid. This caused me anxiety, I am currently in treatment. And estranged from both my parents. Kids need boundaries, but they need trust, and going trough their computers and raging at things, unless very critical, is so harmful. Really. I hope your kids don't end up like me, in therapy and with problems like mine.
Anonymous said…
Some of these I think are overboard, but it's important to know what's happening. Online fandom communities are full of creeps grooming kids, for example.
Anonymous said…
Let me start by saying that this is neither a judgement of your parenting, nor a situation which should be applied or even considered for anyone else's kids. I do not believe that I have the right to pass judgement on anyone else's parenting style, and doubt anyone would care about my opinion on the matter anyway. This is purely my experience with well meaning, but controlling parents.

My parents had a similar philosophy regarding my right to privacy, or lack thereof. It never occurred to me that I should have such a right, until I hit my early teens. I became desperate for freedom. My parents' strict involvement in every aspect of my life made me feel like I had not earned their trust. I was a straight A students, taking college level classes, never missed a day of work, and had no discipline issues in the home or at school. I deserved to feel like they trusted me, I had earned it, but felt like I had no control over my own life.

Because I was convinced that I had not and would never earn my parents trust, I gradually lost my trust in them. By the time I was a junior in high-school, I had become sullen, withdrawn, and secretive. My parents didn't know I had a boyfriend. Knew about only two of my friends, and didn't know that I was viciously bullied at school. We were strangers to one another. I hid everything, refused to share anything about my hopes, dreams, worries, etc.

My first suicide attempt occurred when I was 16. I took 900 Tylenol PM. The pills irritated my stomach and I vomited sand and pill casings for two days. Somehow I convinced my parents that I just had the flu. I was cutting myself, and have scars on my thighs and stomach, that will be with me for the rest of my life. Self-harm became the only aspect of my life, where I felt like I had any control. About 6 months later, I tried again, this time, I overdosed on Percocet, which I had gotten from one of my friends. I wasn't successful, could not really tell you why. My parents still don't know about these attempts, and I'm in my 20s now.

I still do not confide in my parents. I keep them at arm's length, and never give up or share control over any aspect of my life. I do not ask their opinion, and only superficially disclose details of my life.

You might not believe that your children have a right to privacy, but they definitely believe that they do. Giving a child privacy, autonomy and the opportunity to make mistakes or poor decisions, is how they learn to function as adults. Privacy is obviously not an absolute right. Kids should be allowed a certain amount of autonomy which needs to reflect their level of maturity, and demonstrated trustworthiness. I don't see an issue, for example, with reading a five year old's journal. I would argue that doing this with a trustworthy teenager exceeds reasonable boundaries.

If kids don't feel like they have earned their parents' trust, then they will respond accordingly. Some will rebell by blatantly flouting their parent' rules and limitations. Some will simple hide the information they do not wish to share. If you read their journal, they will simply stop writing in it, switch to a different medium, or hide their journal from you. There are tons of Apps which hide text messages and pictures, or disguise contacts. These Apps were created because kids are determined to maintain their privacy at all costs.

I am not suggesting that reading a child's diary will lead them to consider suicide. But I do think that snooping and rigorous denial of all privacy may permanently alter or destroy that intimate trust based relationship you share with your kids.
Anonymous said…
Let me start by saying that this is neither a judgement of your parenting, nor a situation which should be applied or even considered for anyone else's kids. I do not believe that I have the right to pass judgement on anyone else's parenting style, and doubt anyone would care about my opinion on the matter anyway. This is purely my experience with well meaning, but controlling parents.

My parents had a similar philosophy regarding my right to privacy, or lack thereof. It never occurred to me that I should have such a right, until I hit my early teens. I became desperate for freedom. My parents' strict involvement in every aspect of my life made me feel like I had not earned their trust. I was a straight A students, taking college level classes, never missed a day of work, and had no discipline issues in the home or at school. I deserved to feel like they trusted me, I had earned it, but felt like I had no control over my own life.

Because I was convinced that I had not and would never earn my parents trust, I gradually lost my trust in them. By the time I was a junior in high-school, I had become sullen, withdrawn, and secretive. My parents didn't know I had a boyfriend. Knew about only two of my friends, and didn't know that I was viciously bullied at school. We were strangers to one another. I hid everything, refused to share anything about my hopes, dreams, worries, etc.

My first suicide attempt occurred when I was 16. I took 900 Tylenol PM. The pills irritated my stomach and I vomited sand and pill casings for two days. Somehow I convinced my parents that I just had the flu. I was cutting myself, and have scars on my thighs and stomach, that will be with me for the rest of my life. Self-harm became the only aspect of my life, where I felt like I had any control. About 6 months later, I tried again, this time, I overdosed on Percocet, which I had gotten from one of my friends. I wasn't successful, could not really tell you why. My parents still don't know about these attempts, and I'm in my 20s now.

I still do not confide in my parents. I keep them at arm's length, and never give up or share control over any aspect of my life. I do not ask their opinion, and only superficially disclose details of my life.

You might not believe that your children have a right to privacy, but they definitely believe that they do. Giving a child privacy, autonomy and the opportunity to make mistakes or poor decisions, is how they learn to function as adults. Privacy is obviously not an absolute right. Kids should be allowed a certain amount of autonomy which needs to reflect their level of maturity, and demonstrated trustworthiness. I don't see an issue, for example, with reading a five year old's journal. I would argue that doing this with a trustworthy teenager exceeds reasonable boundaries.

If kids don't feel like they have earned their parents' trust, then they will respond accordingly. Some will rebell by blatantly flouting their parent' rules and limitations. Some will simple hide the information they do not wish to share. If you read their journal, they will simply stop writing in it, switch to a different medium, or hide their journal from you. There are tons of Apps which hide text messages and pictures, or disguise contacts. These Apps were created because kids are determined to maintain their privacy at all costs.

I am not suggesting that reading a child's diary will lead them to consider suicide. But I do think that snooping and rigorous denial of all privacy may permanently alter or destroy that intimate trust based relationship you share with your kids.
Anonymous said…
It shouldn't you fucking shithead, im 37 years old and my parents still hover by my house and call it every 7 hours or somewhat its annoying as fuck who ever agrees with this article should be ashamed and guilty of manipulation of kids, humans have rights and privacy is one of them,
Anonymous said…
Your brainwashed
Anonymous said…
I am speaking from the point of view of the child here. I completely understand all that you've said but my mother looks through my phone and my room and my old diary. She is like you and believes that privacy for children is unnecessary. However I speak for many children who's parents dont give them privacy when I say, it makes us feel as if we can't trust you. When you look through our things it's as if you don't respect us or trust us to tell you something when we are ready. It makes us not want to talk to you or tell you anything because we're afraid you'll freak out over it. My mother does that and it's the readon I never tell her anything. She freaks out over the smallest of thing so I never want to tell her anything because I know she'll have a seizure. All I'm saying is; privacy but in moderation. Don't look through things unless you have reason.
Iris said…
The problem isn't just my mother, who constantly invades my privacy, it's also my brother who goes through all of my things and reads all the personal things I write. Then when he comments on it, my mom wants to know exactly what he's talking about. I'm the kind of person that almost goes mad if I forget an important event, so I like to write it down. But now I won't, because I know it will be read and spat back out to me. I feel violated, and even if I wrote something years ago, it still hurts to know that my personal thoughts and actions have been put on display.
I also learned my mother is reading my text messages. She thinks it's "cute". I don't care WHAT she thinks it is, because now I don't feel like I can be myself. I can't express myself to my few friends the way I want to, because it will be read and recited back to me. I can't stand it.
Now, instead of writing it out (at the VERY least), I simply bottle it up because I don't feel like I can write it down anywhere to sort it out later. It just stays inside me...waiting to explode one day because I wasn't afforded that one diary that nobody is allowed to touch, that one book that nobody can read, that one place where I can feel safe and alone with my thoughts.

Another problem is the lack of room to be alone. I share with my room with two boys, me being the only girl. I'm a teenager, and I still can't see how this is fair to me. All the education they give you in school about you changing and developing say that you NEED MORE SPACE, not LESS.
If I want to cry because I'm just hurt or I'm having a bad day, NOPE. There's nowhere for me to let my feelings out and wake up the next day feeling better. No, it'll be me silently trying to cry freely while not waking anybody up. (Impossible)
Some time ago, I learned my brother had read a personal thought notebook from some years ago. My mother walked by as he said I did something bad.
Now, I didn't do anything bad, but my mother held me down and made my brother SAY it OUT LOUD. Is this the kind of parenting you want? To have your child feel humiliated and betrayed? I got so mad that day that I just left home. I "went for a walk". In the cold rain.
Did it change anything? I finally got to cry. I finally got some space to myself. The one thing was that I couldn't text any of my friends to talk to because guess what? My texts were being read.

So this is what your parenting will drive kids to do. Not write at home from the comfort and safety of their home, but post things anonymously on blogs to get things off their chest. I feel like I can never have anything personal in this house again, or I'll just have it thrown back at me later.
Sorry for the long post, I'm angry that people like you exist and support your little circle of not allowing any personal thoughts or emotions.
Anonymous said…
Okay, I hope you really rethink your life choices since being an adult doesn't automatically mean you have everything figured out. I'll tell you a story of a childhood friend. She wasn't allowed any privacy when growing up. Her phone was constantly checked, her parents wouldn't allow her to leave her room door closed, and they would always come in and see what she was doing on her computer. And you know what she did? She lied. She lied and lied and to this day she continues to lie to her parents, because she doesn't trust them. She could very well be a compulsive liar, because she has lied to me and other friends. All of this because her parents don't understand boundaries. Would you want your kids to be compulsive liars?

Then my personal story comes in. I was allowed a little bit more privacy than her, but still, my parents wouldn't allow me to have a closed door and would demand to see drawings and stories I've made. I have written thousands upon thousands of stories that I hide in the deepest folders of my computer, because I was afraid (yes, AFRAID) of my parents judging them. Those stories will never reach the public eye, all because I'm extremely nervous about people looking at something I created. Obviously, I also have severe trust issues, anxiety, and depression, but I've never kept a diary, because I was afraid of my parents reading through something of my own. This includes drawings, co

Let me rephrase that. I do have a diary. In my mind. Would you suggest someone to invent a mind reader so all parents automatically know exactly what their kids think? That would be a living hell.

I agree though, children shouldn't be given so much freedom. But teenagers? They aren't adults but they aren't naive kids either. And you know what? The majority of teenagers lie to their parents to PROTECT that privacy. If you show them that you are worthy of their trust and that you deeply care about their wellbeing, then allow them to trust you by trusting them. You are afraid that your kids might turn out to be rapists when they grow up? Then teach them to not be rapists! You won't be able to control them when they are adults, and do you seriously think reading their messages will fix anything? Wouldn't it actually be better to have them trust you? Do you seriously see no benefits from your kid's trust?

All in all your mentality is... toxic to say the least. And the fact that you don't care if you're called a horrible mother says a lot about you as a person. As a final note, for the sake of your children and not your own ego, please ask yourself: is it worth causing your kids so much discomfort, possible depression, anxiety and trust issues, only to prevent something that it's extremely unlikely to happen if you raise your kids well?
Anonymous said…
That being said it's disturbing to see how many parents actually agree with you, despite the fact that most of the kids that were raised this way, and are now adults, are sharing how damaging this could be. And you guys still don't care. Because "I'm the adult and kids lie all the time and I wanna protect them". Likely also from confirmation bias, because all parents agree with you so, if a random stranger on the internet said it, it's probably true.

It's incredibly selfish. When you're gone, your kids won't have you to guide them every step of the way, how will they manage if they are never taught to make choices? I'll thank my parents for not allowing me some privacy, causing me to be a vitually useless adult who has gone all her life to therapy due to the problems they caused.
Unknown said…
How do you expect your children to learn to set safe and appropriate boundaries with others when their boundaries have never been respected in the home. This is a struggle for so many women at every age, to feel entitled to deliberately violate and betray your children’s trust and boundaries is setting them up for victimhood. Sending the message that others have a right to violate what they hold most sacred and they have no say in it is a set up for offenders...bless your daughter’s, they will need it 🙏🏼❤️
Anonymous said…

I would be very careful with this sort of approach to parenting. My cousin's mother did this with her daughter and the girl went completely mute. It started in 2010 and is still on-going. She still does her little hobbies and gardens, still gets good grades in school and goes to church, but she won't speak. Not a word to anyone. Not even on the phone her mom bought her in hopes she'll communicate via text. No notes, no letters. Nothing. Just expressions.

Like her folks, I suspected it was a silent rebellion, she would snap out of it if they punished her. They refused to let her out of the house, refused to let go to vacation Bible school or go out to the movies. Nothing. They treated the opposite, went on a road trip to her favorite park, took to the mall and offered to buy her anything. Still nothing. She walked out empty handed. Personally I think it goes much deeper than teenage rebellion. This is something else entirely. They took her to therapy in 2011, but no luck. The doctor's worst fear is that if she goes without speech for too long, she might lose her ability to talk. That part of the brain shuts off after awhile. He explained this to her. She didn't seem to react to it. Maybe she had already lost that ability and saw no reason to try anymore. They put her on anti-depressants, but there hasn't been any improvement.

My other relatives haven't been very sympathetic, they even go as far as telling my aunt to kick her out of the house and let her fend for herself, that will force her to talk. I don't think they realize that this isn't rebellion, it's a disability caused by trauma. Kicking her out, I feel, will actually make it worse and destroy whatever's left of her trust in her parents. The root of the issue is trust. Even if the parents had good intentions and she was a good girl with nothing to hide, it might have been the very idea that her parents supposedly didn't trust her enough to give her privacy.

My aunt regrets ever opening her daughter's diary and snooping through her short stories and internet history. As a mother she was happy to know her daughter was fine and wasn't getting in trouble, but had no idea her actions would cause this sort of tragedy. She's tried to make it up to her, apologized. Doesn't change a thing. My aunt seems to be going through a depression herself now, the father's been working a lot and barely comes home. I think he's taken it the hardest because he and his daughter were very close at one time, she'd always look forward to talking to him about something Biblically. I don't think he can stand the silence anymore and has expressed that they have 'broken their little girl'.

As parents, we do need to acknowledge that to a child, we're their source of unconditional love and support, and while some kids can handle having limited privacy, some kids can't and will cope with the emotional/mental 'attack' of their privacy in extreme, maladaptive ways. We just never know how our actions, as good as they can be, will affect our kids.

Becky turner said…
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Four year old
Anonymous said…
This is the type of parenting that made me finally move away from my parents when I was 18. I had never done anything that I knew underaged kids should be doing. I didn't even have a boyfriend until I was 18 because my parents were completely unreasonable and invaded my privacy. It was a nightmare and I became very anxious bring around them. I knew that I didn't need to be doing bad things in order to have fun as a teen-ager. I am 28 and I don't regret moving away as soon as I could from my parents. I understand that parents should be parents, but there are kids out there who become anxious and afraid just to have conversations with people because they had parents like this. This is exactly what happened to me. I grew up I became an adult with a job and 0 driving tickets. I knew how to follow rules and be a good kid, but growing up with them made me so afraid to be happy and have conversations with friends on the phone, even though we knew not to say bad things, no matter what I did my parents would be hiding behind my door listening to my conversations, even if they were as innocent as asking for help with school. They completely breathed down my neck. Their idea of kids not needing privacy made me shy and afraid to even make new friends at school.
Anonymous said…
Reading this makes me want to punch you in the throat like the website is called. This is coming from a family who didn't respect my space or privacy as a person. It fucked me up. You're a selfish entitled asshole who is going to fuck their children up.
tyrone8934 said…
"Why do we think that children deserve privacy?"

Because they're human beings, you dolt.

"Only entitled assholes demand a right to privacy."

Correction: Only people with self respect and a sense of boundaries demand privacy. You obviously have neither, you worthless piece of trash.

"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."

Ah, yes, the old appeal to popularity. "That's how it is. Therefore, that's how it should be." If everyone had your stupid-ass mindset, no improvement would ever be made to anything.

"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."

Citation needed, jackass. -_-

"Kids make dumb choices. They are not equipped to think about consequences."

So teach them to think of consequences. If your kids can't make good decisions without you hovering over them 24/7, then you've already failed.

PS: You are more disgusting than a rotting corpse. You're so fat; a bull elephant would be attracted to you.
Anonymous said…
NO! I was absolutely humiliated when my mom read my diary when I was about 11. Around then I was coming out about my sexuality which my diary contained was information about. It was a horrible experience to be forced into telling someone something because they read your diary. It made feel unsafe, and like I had no rights or any freedom to express my feelings with anyone other than my parents. Do not read your children’s diaries for it may make them uncomfortable or make them feel humiliated. I respect your decision on the phone, and emails. But diaries with PERSONAL information that your child may be unready to talk about. Respect their privacy when it comes to diaries, journals, or notebooks.
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