Keeping tabs on your children’s day-to-day activity is a part of good parenting. If you are not aware of what is going on in your children’s lives, it is difficult to parent them effectively or forestall problems or help them make good choices for themselves. Neither can you share and celebrate their triumphs and joys without being around and keeping up with things.
However there is a very fine line between monitoring and prying and studies have shown that the more parents pry, the more secretive children get. The long term result being that parents know less than they would have, if only they had held back a little.
So what exactly do teenagers consider prying?
After speaking with a few teenagers here is the list of what they find most intrusive:
l When parents ask for too many details before an event, like with whom, what, where, etc.
l When parents check their phones or computers
l When parents eavesdrop on their conversation
l When they share details about them with other parents or family members
In a situation like this where children want their privacy and parents only want to ensure their children’s well being, respectful and thoughtful parenting is the solution. The most important thing parents can do is talk with their teens about what information they need to know and what privacy they can get; it clears the air and avoids arguments on prying.
Parents definitely have a right to keep their children safe but when it comes to interacting with them on social media accounts, be very careful. No matter how cool you think you are, parents should not comment on a post amongst their friends. It will only embarrass them and they will feel you are spying. Instead be discreet and choose your battles.
When teens have friends or dates over, parents must offer some privacy. A good idea would be to sit with them and negotiate ground rules that are in accordance with your values but still offer some privacy. If however they do or say something that concerns you, wait for them to be alone and then calmly discuss it with them. Getting angry and raising your voice will only make it worse, so relax.
Remember respect is a two-way street and if you want your teen to respect you, you should also show some respect. There should be a direct link between the amount of responsibility, consistency and honesty that children show and the amount of privacy they’re allowed to have.