The key is to foster a relationship in which your teen knows she can talk to you about anything, even things that are difficult. When you respond to unsettling information calmly and demonstrate the maturity you want your teen to emulate, you create the environment for transparency. Trust is earned and rewarded with freedom, responsibility and yes — privacy. But it’s not an entitlement until that teen is on her own and living as an independent adult.
Absolutely awesome parenting and culture thinker/author/speaker Marybeth Hicks, answering a reader’s question re a teen daughter’s ‘right’ to privacy as it relates to texting.
We have a friend- a wonderful, loving Mom who has let her kids know that she can and will look at anything- texts, diary, digital or otherwise- if she feels she needs to. It’s simply an understanding they have in their home.
I also read somebody online recently who drew a distinction between their child’s communications in the digital/online world, and those in a private, honest-to-goodness-paper diary. While that person had no qualms about monitoring anything their child might send out into the world via phone or computer, they felt a diary should indeed be a truly private place for the child’s thoughts. Her rationale was- digital communications are inherently public the moment they’re sent, and can result in a whole bunch of unintended consequences most kids don’t fully grasp.
I’ll admit I’m still thinking through this one. It’s not a huge issue for us yet, as both our daughters are too young for phones. Our oldest has an iPod touch, but texting to anybody other than Mom, Dad, or Grandpa is NOT ALLOWED.
I’m really liking the last two sentences in that quote above though, and the whole idea of the kid-specific approach. They’ll have my trust unless and until there’s a reason I feel I can’t. If that time comes, I’ll have to put their safety above all other concerns.