Monday, April 12, 2010


Shannon gave me an article the other day that made me laugh out loud. Seriously. I chuckled, snickered, and snorted.

There is a feud going on between a mother and son in Arkansas. The mom saw on facebook that her 16 year old son had posted about driving 95 mph because he was mad at his girlfriend. She said some of the things he had been posting would, "make your eyes pop and your jaws drop." So, one day, she found his facebook account open, and got on, changed his passwords, and rebuttaled some of his comments publically.

The spoiled little brat is suing his mom.


So, of course, liberal parents across the country are supporting the boy, helping him vindicate his "lack of privacy." Here's the deal. You're 16. You don't get that kind of privacy yet. (First of all, he wasn't being private when he was posting this stuff... not the sharpest knife in the drawer, this one...)

From time to time, I have parents ask me what I think about invading a child's privacy... for example, reading their journal, their emails, their texts, etc.

Here's my feelings on the matter.

Abi is my child. Everything about her... every word she writes, every sentence she speaks, every place she goes... IS MY BUSINESS. See, privacy is earned. It is something that comes with trust and a proven track record. Privacy is not handed out like M&Ms, people. It comes with time, and it is very conditional. (And we can't forget that even if a child is 17 and angelic, SHE CANNOT BE TOTALLY TRUSTED!) They are children. Children require supervision!!!


Abi is a child that needs alone time. She loves to go to her room and have quiet time. I'm ok with that. However, our rules for privacy for her at this age are as follows:

1. Your door is to NEVER be locked.
2. Your door is to NEVER be shut when you are in the room with a friend... even if that friend is a girl.
3. I can enter your room any time I choose.

Granted, I do knock, because I expect her to do the same when I have MY door shut. (On a lighter note, I knocked last night and entered the bathroom just as she was wiping her rear end with a towel because she was out of toilet paper. I was just in time. Crisis averted.)

Kids need alone time. At times they need to cry alone, veg out alone, and play alone. But as with everything else in their lives, that alone time should be monitored by OUR standards, not theirs.

One of my favorite moms is my friend Amy. She has ten thousand children. (four, really... but three girls and one boy can feel bigger than it really is). Yesterday, she told me that her 5th grade daughter was chatting with friends through a school chat system online, and one of the guidelines that Amy and Roger have is that she is NOT allowed to chat with boys (or talk to them on the phone). Amy has all of her passwords, so she checks up on her girlie from time to time, and she discovered that her little diva had done just that... chatted with a boy without permission. This girl was LIVID that Amy found out, telling her that it was private, blah, blah, blah... to which Amy responds, "There is NO privacy in this house. I know your passwords, I check your email. Get over it."

Here's the thing. Kids are going to sneak around. I get that. And if we check their emails, texts, etc., they will find other ways to be sneaky. I get that too. But does that mean we quit putting boundaries in place, simply because they will find a way to cheat the system? HECK NO. They are smart. But we've been here longer. That counts for something.

Let me tell you this. Old School Parents are not intimidated by children threatening us with lawsuits because our love for our children is greater than the methods of manipulation they try to fling at us. We have to become so sure of our jurisdictions and our overall goals that we have no problem squaring off with our child, whether they are 6 or 16, and winning.

Recently, we asked our middle schoolers if they felt that their parents had the right to snoop in their personal belongings. Out of 30 kids, only one said no. I was shocked at the responses.
"Everything I have, my parents bought me anyway, so I guess they can do whatever they want with it."
"If I know they are going to check up on me, I'm not as likely to do something stupid."
"They are my parents. I don't necessarily agree with them, but I know they love me."
"It makes me mad when they snoop, but it's their right."

And my favorite-
"I shouldn't have anything to hide! If I do, and they find out, it's my own fault... not theirs."

Oh, and that one kid who disagreed? After hearing her peers state their case, she crossed over.

So, sue away little boy. Your mama loves you. One day, you'll get it.


  1. I like Amy's approach... I know your passwords, I check your email - get over it!

    I think our children SHOULD KNOW that we are checking up on them... When parents sneak and snoop around, children who find out are more inclined to think it's OK to be sneaky.

    If you haven't been monitoring, tell your child, "I'm going to start checking up on you because I love you and I don't want you to be doing stupid stuff!! If you're doing stupid stuff this is your warning to stop it... I am going to find out and how will you feel when I do?!"

    My version of "informed consent" - "I don't need you to agree, I'm just letting you know this is how it is!"

  2. Love this, Jill. When I was a teenager and into the "boyfriend stage", one time my Daddy asked me if I had held my boyfriend's hand (which you have to understand, was against the rules for me!). Thankfully I had not! But that one time of my Daddy asking, made me behave myself at other times, because I was afraid he would ask. As a result, when I married my husband of almost 38 years, he was the first person I had ever kissed, and then only two weeks before our wedding. Rare, but sweet, if I have to say so!!!

  3. So true. Our computer was always in a public space so my parents could look over my shoulder at any moment to see who I was talking to or what I was looking at. Definitely no privacy in my home as a child, but that's what was best for me!