Creeping or Caring?

Driven recently held our annual MERGE Conference. At the conference, parents and teens were given the chance to submit questions to a panel of parents and teens who had successfully navigated the teen years together. One question came up in both panels- “Does snooping make me a bad parent?/Why do my parents go through my stuff? ” For both teens and parents this can be a touchy subject. Parents want to know what is going on in their child’s life, and are often met with “you wouldn’t understand” and a door slam. Where does this leave parents? With lots of questions and not many answers. If you feel like you must check in on your child, you have just cause. That being said, you need to be prepared for what you may find.

Online: Your child’s online identity is very important to them, and you need treat it as such.  Asking who you are communicating with is reasonable. If your child is not forthcoming with their online activities, minimizes the window when you enter the room, or keeps everything locked with a password and will not tell you it-you may need to do some further investigating. Instead of forbidding the use of online social networks, compromise. Make your own facebook/myspace and “friend” your child. If your child refuses to allow you to see certain things on their page or flat out refuses, take the next step. Ask for their password to their account. When this fails, you may require them to delete their page in front of you and restrict computer access to supervised homework time. The key here is start out less strict and if they are not compliant, become stricter.

Cell Phone: Check your monthly bill, if you see anything out of the ordinary ask your teen about it. You pay the bill and have the right to regulate the use of the cell phone. With the abundance of “sexting” teens are doing and sending provocative pictures to people, you as the parent have an obligation to keep them safe. Teens do not realize the lasting consequences this can have on their lives.

All this considered, your child has a right to privacy as well. If you do find something that is troublesome or worrisome, fight the urge to yell.Engage in open dialogue about what is going on and your feelings about it. Give your teen a chance to explain themselves, and then work together to come up with a solution you both can agree upon.

~Kate MacHugh, Intern For Driven


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