Parenting and Children’s Privacy

I don’t claim to be the best parent in the world. No one can claim that, for heaven’s sake. When we have our first child, we are newbies. Babies don’t come with instructions and no matter how many books we read, we will never be fully prepared for the job of parent. Parenting is a difficult job but is also a very rewarding job.

We all have different ways of parenting. One parent’s way might be different than another’s, but that doesn’t make it “the wrong way.” There is one thing I feel very strongly about and that’s privacy. Children, no matter the age, deserve (age appropriate) privacy. I’m not talking about privacy to do whatever they wish. That would be ridiculous and dangerous, obviously. It’s totally natural for teens to want privacy. Perhaps just some alone time in their rooms, a conversation on the telephone, an email to a friend, or maybe just hanging out with a friend after school or on the weekend. We need to keep in mind that these young people are trying to discover themselves. They are developing their own distinct personalities, their own individualities. It’s a tough time for teens. They are under a great deal of stress and peer pressure. It’s only right that they are given a little privacy to unwind, be themselves, reflect and have a life that they can call their own. That doesn’t mean that we let them run rampant and do whatever they please. By all means, DO find out who they are friends with, DO know where they are going, DO get to know the parents of your child’s friends, DO keep the lines of communication open. Communication is key!

These days kids of all ages are finding a place for themselves on the internet. This can be a disastrous thing or it can be a positive thing. While we must keep close watch on what our children are doing online, this doesn’t mean spying. Having open communication at all times with your child is very important. This can’t be started when they are teens. This must be developed from the time of the child’s birth! We can’t expect communication if we haven’t had it all along. We must have parental controls on our computers to protect our children but we mustn’t spy on them…unless they give us a reason to, which is another subject altogether.

Many young people keep journals, have private chat conversations online, have their own cell phones and computers and many have Facebook (or other networking) pages. Just because they have these private areas of their lives does not mean we should treat them as though they are “up to no good.” Just because one child got into trouble at age 15, doesn’t mean your other children will follow suit. In other words, don’t punish all your children for the sins of one.

We mustn’t alienate our children! We must keep them close to the heart, guide them and protect them but also let them grow into the wonderful human being you hope they become. You can’t do that if you spy on them and mistrust everything they do.

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