Let’s take this a step further, when should parents read their child’s journal or diary?
Many are reading this and saying — NEVER!
However, if you are concerned about your teen’s behavior (or child) and something doesn’t seem right, he/she is not communicating with you, isn’t there a time when safety trumps privacy?
In reality, most parents are paying for their child’s smartphone. Most parents are paying for their wireless service. Respect is a two-way street – I completely understand that.
It’s a parent’s responsibility to keep their child safe, if they suspect their teen is struggling – do you figure it’s just adolescence and hope they grow out of it? Some parents tell me – “teens will be teens or boys will be boys” but what happens when things go very bad?
I agree, breaking that bond of trust with your teen is extremely difficult and should be taken seriously. You have to remember, safety is always the priority – even over that bond of trust.
What are some of the warning signs that may prompt you to cross this line?
- Is your teen becoming very secretive? Sure, teens do like their privacy, however if you have a “gut feeling” something is deeper than a secret, you may have to cross that line.
- Is your teen becoming withdrawn? Again, teens will develop some attitudes of not wanting to be with adults, however when it becomes extreme, it may be time to cross that line.
- Is your teen changing peer groups? And this is not into a better one, however to one that is less than desirable? You will again attempt to talk to your teen and find out why and what happened to the other friends.
- Is your teens eating habits changing?
- Is your teen sleeping a lot? Bloodshot eyes? Do you suspect drug use?
- Is your teen sneaking out? Becoming extremely defiant? Not respecting your boundaries?
- Overall, is your teen slowly becoming a child you don’t recognize?
It’s not always easy doing what’s right, but it’s necessary.
This may be an extreme example, but recently Diane Sawyer aired a powerful interview with Sue Klebold, the mother of the infamous shooter, Dylan Klebold, of Columbine.
“I felt that I was a good mom… That he would, he could talk to me about anything,” Klebold continued. “Part of the shock of this was that learning that what I believed and how I lived and how I parented was– an invention in my own mind. That it, it was a completely different world that he was living in.”
After 16 years she is speaking out. What can we learn from her. No one expects their teen to wake up and shoot-up a school. No one believes their teen is going through a darkness that brings them to a point of such destruction they not only take their life – they destroy the lives of hundreds of others.
As this mother tells Diane Sawyer, there came a time when she stopped prying into his stuff. She felt he deserved his privacy. She was also dealing with an older sibling that was using drugs. She wasn’t making excuses – however like many parents, people hope this is teen behavior that will pass.
Sadly — it didn’t.
Today, not only are teens dealing with offline peer pressure, they have the combination of online social peer LIKE-ng. Keeping up with the social status of where they belong and who is saying what about them. Teen cyberbullying is overwhelming today – 16 years ago, kids were mainly dealing with the schoolyard bullies (which are also bad) however today it’s compounded with going viral.
Let’s go back to the title of this blog post. Should you read your teen’s text messages?
Only you can answer that.