Dear Son, All Your Base Are Belong To Us
When I was a teenager, I was harmless. I was very naïve, very geeky, very unattractive, and one of the least popular kids in school. In spite of all that, I had no privacy whatsoever. Of course, my parents and I had to share our only room, so there wasn’t much privacy to go around in the first place. I guess what got me was that, twenty years later, my Mom confessed that she had been reading my diary on a regular basis. She even complained that it was boring. That little notebook was the only piece of privacy I thought I’d had. I swear I had done nothing as a teenager to provoke such unlimited snooping. Of course, I made up for that after I went to college!
Apparently, I had it easy. One of the commenters on Phil’s site mentions how he replaced the doors to his children’s room with screen doors when they were young. Granted, they were allowed to hang curtains across them, but still. I apologize in advance to the person I’m going to criticize, but the very idea makes my hair stand up on end. Besides, does it really work? I mean, can’t they sneak into a bathroom or into the basement and do the dirty deeds there, whatever those deeds may be? I’d say that, to be consistent, the author had to replace every door in the house with a screen door – including the bathrooms – as well as install a camera in the basement. Of course, that would have made living in the house kind of interesting, but, on the bright side, the kids would definitely move out earlier! (I moved out as soon as I graduated from high school at 17).
I am not saying we need to be completely uninvolved in our kids’ lives. As much I refuse to take advice on parenting from the Columbine shooters, they do have a point when they say the parents should have checked their rooms once in a while. I go into I11’s room every day, I check what’s there, I go through his school papers because I'm helping him with schoolwork, he allows me to read the posts on a forum that he’s a member of. He’s okay with that. I’m all for monitoring our children’s lives, but I believe there has to be a line we shouldn’t cross. I’m just not sure where it needs to be drawn, but it has to be there. Not only is all-out snooping disrespectful, it is also pointless. You can search your teenage kid’s room, you can go through his every drawer, but you cannot get into his head, and that’s where the real information is. Unless, of course, you want to experiment with truth serum, in which case, more power to you!
I’m not a professional and I do not have all the answers. I ‘m just an ordinary mother, who trusts her gut feelings and learns as she goes. My children are only almost-twelve and nine. So I do not have the answers for you. The way I’ve been doing it so far is, know what’s allowed and what’s not allowed in my family and stick to that; pick my own battles; show genuine interest in building a relationship and trust with my kids; and not say or do anything to lose that trust. I’ll see if that works and I will let you know.