When Is It Okay To Check Your Teens’ Backpacks?
Today we’re going to look at teens and the sticky topic of privacy. Let me know what you think. Just leave a reply at the bottom of the story on the blog page of my website. And speaking of blogs, take a look at the comments about Justin Bieber.
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When Is It Okay To Check Your Teen’s Backpacks?
The simple answer is, never.
“You don’t trust me!” Most parents of children over the age of eleven will agree that at some point they have heard this plaintive complaint from their child.
We want our children to trust us, but first do we trust them? We always respond to our child’s query saying of course we trust them, BUT. But we don’t trust their friends and we don’t trust where they are going. We don’t trust — well let’s face it, maybe we don’t trust them.
It’s a real problem. For us, it may not really be about trust but fear. We are worried about what they are doing when they aren’t with us. We are afraid that they will succumb to temptations to participate in activities such as shoplifting, drug use, sex or skipping school.
And we are accustomed to knowing where they are at all times and to having them supervised. But now they are older. They want us to trust them, to let go of them a bit. We are afraid and want to hang on tighter than ever.
Whenever I am speaking to a group of parents in a workshop and suggest that they don’t snoop in their teenager’s bedroom, do not read their emails or texts, stay away from their blogs and facebook pages, and leave their backpacks alone they argue with me. They feel they have a responsibility to know, to snoop, to monitor their teen’s behavior
Actually that’s not the case. In fact that behaviour is more likely to cause than prevent problems. We have raised these kids to adolescence and we now need to trust that they have learned the lessons they need to negotiate the rocky waters of teenage independence.
But, what if they are getting into trouble? How can a parent prevent it if they are not watching their child’s every move?
You have a long-term relationship with this kid. You just need to pay attention and if you see changes in his behavior that are not related to typical adolescence then start asking questions. But don’t interrogate them. A heavy-duty, “I know your using drugs, admit it,” is not going to open any constructive conversation.” You might say, “Eric, I notice that you are not sleeping well and you also seem distracted. Can we talk about what’s happening?” Or more directly you could say, “I went to a lecture on teen drug use yesterday and learned some interesting facts. I’m curious to know what you think. Can we talk about this?”
If the changes in behavior you are seeing in your child are more serious you could say, “I’m worried about you. I notice that your eyes looks strange, you are alternately high and happy and then depressed. I need your help to get to the bottom of this.”
Most of our children are not getting into serious trouble. But when we are snooping they know we believe they are up to something. So how will they react?
Some will want to prove you right. You don’t trust them, well okay they will get in trouble just to meet what they see are your expectations. Some will just become sneaky. They know when you are snooping, and they resent it. So they will just get better at hiding everything and soon you won’t have any idea what’s happening whether it is positive or negative. And some will feel badly. Their self-esteem will take a beating when they realize you have such little faith in them.
It’s about respect. Respect their privacy and they will meet your positive expectations.