You’ll notice that on here, I rarely use my kids real names, though I do use actual pictures now and again. At most an initial, a nickname, something that makes it a little more difficult to trace. I do this out of respect for my teenagers – and their privacy.
But that’s a tenuous thing – teenage privacy. Lindsay, over at Suburban Turmoil at the Nashville Scene broached the subject a couple days ago. When her girls mention a new member of their group, she dives into facebook profiles and makes sure they’re the type of kid her girls should hang out with. She even uses Google Earth, to find their home when there’s parties.
I’m sure Lindsay isn’t alone in this – many parents take advantage of their friends facebook and social networking skills to keep an eye on their kids. Lindsay limits her stalking to what’s publicly available on the ‘Net for the most part, as they are her step-daughters, but admits that with her own kids, all bets are off if she suspects something is wrong. I’m going to ignore the difference there – as I’d treat them all the same, myself, but that’s how it works for her family, so that’s good for them. However – how deep should a parent go when it comes to their teenagers privacy?
I know most teens want parents to butt out – and I know most parents won’t. And I don’t think they should. As I told my kids, all along – no matter where you are, imagine me RIGHT BEHIND YOU, watching. I have spies EVERYWHERE, and I WILL find out. They only pushed against it a couple times, then discovered that indeed, mom DID have friends everywhere, and even something so simple as walking across the highway to a different store was noted and reported back to mom. Can’t get away with NUTHIN in this small town, GOSH.
If you’ve taught your teens to be aware that you WILL be randomly checking in on them – chances are they won’t misbehave. Too much. Sure they’ll push, it’s what they DO. It’s our job to find a happy medium.
Would I search my kids rooms randomly for no reason? No. If I suspected there was something really wrong? Absolutely. Once, I was talking to my son in his room, and was leaning against the fridge, and randomly popped it open. His jaw DROPPED because he knew what I’d find in there – and INSTANTLY confessed that it was there, it wasn’t his, it was unopened, he was just holding it for someone. He was telling the truth – about it being unopened, at least, which lead me to believe the rest. I didn’t demand that he nark o his friend, whichever one it was that had put the bottle in there. I simply demanded it be removed, and it not happen again, and why. The bottle disappeared, the situation has never happened re-occurred, and they know I’m prone to randomly opening their fridge. Or cupboard. Or lifting a stack of books I happen to be standing next to at the time while we talk. I fidget – and I use it to my advantage.
I think the bottom line is this: if you suspect something is actively WRONG, then do some snooping. Otherwise, find a comfortable medium for you and your teens. Which means – and you know exactly what I’m going to say here, right? Here we go, let’s say it together, ok? 1. 2. 3.
TALK TO YOUR KIDS.
Sometimes, it’s really that simple.
[There are a wealth of things available to help keep track of your teens - we'll get to them tomorrow...]