- George W. Bush to embattled Alabama kicker: You will be stronger
- Megachurch pastor with ties to Obama commits suicide
- WaPo to readers: Send us your ‘gun violence’ stories for Sandy Hook anniversary
- U.S. threatens Ukraine with sanctions over dispatch of riot police
- Canada doing away with door-to-door mail delivery by 2018
- NSA chief defends phone spying: ‘There is no other way’
- Hawaii Health Department head killed in plane crash
- Colorado school drops sexual harassment label on boy who kissed girl’s hand
- Australia court strikes down 5-day-old, gay-marriage law
- Fake interpreter at Mandela service: ‘Sorry,’ I have schizophrenia
HICKS: Parental responsibility trumps child’s privacy
Question of the Day
From: Message-reading Mom
My daughter’s smartphone buzzed when she was out of the room. I picked it up to see who was texting her and was puzzled by the message that previewed on the screen, so I read the entire exchange. What I discovered concerned me. When I talked to her about it, she turned the tables on me and said I’d invaded her privacy. The issue I discovered is important and I don’t want to lose the chance to guide her behavior, but now we’re arguing only about privacy and whether I trust her. How much privacy should I allow my daughter?
How much privacy you allow depends on the child and the record of trust she has built, but your minor child’s privacy is not an entitlement. Parental responsibility for our children means we have the right to know what’s going on. That’s the only way we can guide and teach them.
Beyond that general principal, Rule No. 1 about communicating in the digital age is: There’s no such thing as privacy. The message exchange you read may have been intended for your daughter and her friend, but the friend could easily have taken a screen shot of that message and sent it elsewhere. That’s why it’s so crucial that children understand that technology can be manipulated by anyone who wants to violate their intended privacy.
If you read the text exchange because you were already suspicious that something was up, say so and remind her that you reserve the right to go looking for information when you believe she may be hiding something that could endanger her or someone else (think sex, drug use, covering for others, etc.). This means you may read her texts, see her social media pages and check her phone records.
If you read her message inadvertently or out of curiosity, say you didn’t go snooping and you weren’t worried about her, but you are now. Your glimpse into her friendship raised an issue that you can’t ignore, even if the manner in which you learned of it annoys her.
Kids are quick to back their parents into a corner with the accusation, “You don’t trust me,” as though you are bound to prove that you do. Don’t fall for it. In our house, the answer is, “Of course I do. I trust that you’re a teenager and you’ll make your share of mistakes.” The important thing is not to stay focused on her sense of indignation over her lost privacy, but rather on the concern you now have about the situation you discovered.
This episode is an important reminder that parents should be vigilant, especially when we put the means to greater freedom into our children’s hands by way of a cellular device. Freedom is an important factor in developing responsibility, but it’s also the avenue to poor choices, even risky ones.
What your daughter calls invading her privacy I would call parenting, though progressive parenting specialists might disagree with me. Some say teens deserve privacy and the respect it conveys, just as an adult would. I would argue that the risks of respecting a teen’s privacy are greater than the risk of hurting her pride by inserting yourself into her life.
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.
• Have a question about parenting in today’s culture? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Author
By Matt Kibbe
The short-term deal will assure long-term overspending
- NAPOLITANO: A conspiracy so vast
- All-out war breaks out in GOP over budget pact
- Washington Post to readers: Send us your gun violence stories for Sandy Hook anniversary
- Biden guarantees victory on immigration reform
- MALCOLM/REIMER: Over-criminalization undermines respect for legal system
- Study IDs reasons for late-term abortions
- Obama takes 'selfie' at Mandela's funeral service
- Rand Paul: Budget deal 'shameful,' 'huge mistake'
- Colorado school drops sexual harassment label on boy who kissed girl's hand
- Teen thugs in D.C. run wild -- even while wearing GPS ankle bracelets
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
All of the world’s problems, solved on your back porch
Al Maurer provides a common sense, conservatarian, Constitutional conservative perspective from the battleground state of Colorado
Interviews and show reviews from the Los Angeles punk scene past and present. Los Angeles has always been rich in punk rock talent since punk rock was born.
Buzz on Bees is a column promoting the love and life of God’s greatest pollinators on earth: The Honeybee
Extraordinary day at Redskins Park
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow