Friday, August 29, 2008

Trying To Find A Balance

One of the things I have always struggled with as a parent is how much of a right to privacy my children should have? Now that I have 4 teenagers, that question is on my mind constantly. So I'd like to know what you think? How have you dealt with the following issues:

Do you think your teenager has a right to privacy?

Are there some things you believe that teenager should be able to keep private and some things that you as their parent should have a right to see?

Do you check their email – reading what they send and receive?

Do you check their list of visited sites on the Internet?

Do you have any parental control software on their computers?

Are your children allowed to use their computers alone in their rooms?

Do you feel as a parent you have a right to go through anything in your child’s room, school locker, school notebooks, etc?

Are your children allowed to use the phone in a private place in your house?

Does your child have a cell phone with no use restrictions?

Do you review a detailed bill of their cell phone usage?

Do you know all your child’s friends, or are they allowed to go to houses of people you have never met?

Have you met the parents of your child’s friends?

If your child drives, do you check the car’s odometer?

Does your child have a curfew, and consequences for missing that curfew?

Do you feel your are more strict or less strict as a parent than your parents were with you?

What is your biggest fear as it relates to you children?


Terri said...

I have three teens and my answer would say it depends on the kid...

I always told my kids that they don't have rights, they have privileges. And that they have privileges so that they will learn to manage rights when they grow up. Saying that guarantees eye-rolling, but seemed accurate to me.

It seemed to us that important thing there is that they then have some privileges so that they do grow into rights... That is hard--figuring out where to build in growth opportunities... scary!

Within this: telephone private, yes. Computer and TV are in the family room. Cell phone--16th birthday gift--some limits (they pay for anything over the plan.) Rooms, mostly private. I check things when I feel like it--more sometimes than others. Most oversight has been pretty unnecessary, but my daughter went through a few months where she scared us and I was much more vigilant... That was very hard, but safety came first.

Curfew depends on the event, who will be there and which of my kids. Since mostly I always was up on where they were and with who, etc I didn't set a time. For a stretch, my daughter had a time and some other restrictions--she ended that by asking how to get back to where we used to be and we negotiated that out...

Not sure at all what we would be doing if we had different kids...

This is just what has worked for us so far... hope it helps!

happycfam said...

I don't have any advice, I just know I don't want teenagers. Good luck with it all, and when I'm there, I'll as you for tips!

Rob at Kintropy said...

Reading your list gave me the chills (my son and daughter are both under seven, but advancing quickly)....

I know what doesn't work: completely stripping away privacy. My parents had the bright idea of removing my sister's bedroom door when she was getting out of hand, and she just moved anything private off-site.

Where there is a will, there is a way. Makes me think that an honest negotiation with your teenager is probably the best way to go....

Anonymous said...

I am in complete agreement with Terri. It is soooo much easier to loosen-up after they have proven you can trust them than to clamp-down after a breach. Teens are not adults.

I relate to happycfam in that I used to fear my children's teen years. Fortunately, parenting the years from birth to 12 helped me get over my fear - as well as asking advice from other parents.

Rob, you cannot imagine the decisions you will have to make for G and H in 6 years (we have an online friendship).

Don't rely much on the experience of you sister. We removed the door of our older teen's room.

Times have changed and safety requires a whole new set of parenting skills. I have a page called Childproof on my site - left sidebar where I expand on this.

Again, Terri is right - this is hard. Negotiating is hard, too. Once your teen feels equal in privileges to you, you are in for many-a difficult "negotiations".

Thanks, Deborah, for this post. Barbara

terena said...

Yes, teenagers have the right to privacy. I believe allowing them privacy and some secrets shows them you respect them and trust them (of course this depends on the teen and past history. if the teen has shown she can't be trusted, that's a different ball game all together).

Yes, we live in a world full of hazards, but we need to allow our children the opportunity to learn how to make smart choices and trust themselves. I feel that too much control doesn't actually make the child safer, it keeps the child dependent.

My daughter is a teenager now and we take things step by step. I know who her friends are and what she does with her time. She is allowed to use the computer in the living room unsupervised and I don't check up on her or go through her stuff. I show her with my actions that I trust her and I expect her to be honest with me.

This balance is so tricky! We have to know what they're doing and who they're with while allowing them the freedom to grow and make their own choices. If they don't learn to make good decisions now, when will they?

Maddy said...

Likewise with Terri, so much depends upon that individual child.

At the same time, now that one of mine is 27 my fears are somewhat lessened [I hope!]

Anonymous said...

I think, like the other commenters said that it depends so much on the individual child. I know M is no where close enough to having total privacy. Looking back at myself as a teen I think I may have been given too much privacy. So many tough questions you bring up and very good ones for parents to consider.