Unless you are a guest, then there is no expectation of privacy in our house.
Yea, we are that kind of parenting unit.
Pretty much, since the dawning of our marriage, my darling husband and I have had 0 (zero) privacy from the other. We have nothing to hide and no way to hide it if we did. Other than what we do solely behind the locked bathroom or locked bedroom door, and for a few weeks at Christmas when no one is allowed in my closet, our lives, even secret lives, are on display. I can dig through my husband’s wallet and he can dig through my purse, if he dares…maybe put on some latex gloves. And apart from his work emails and files that are visible to his assistant, I have complete and utter access to his messages and mail.
The invasion of our kids “privacy” is even more intrusive.
Our internet and phone package is set up so that I can see where everyone goes on the web and how long they stay there. We follow our kids on all their boards and accounts that we can find. My husband has a Pinterest account so he can follow our teenage daughter’s board, luckily they also have boards on flyfishing. Bless that man having to sift through pages of teen fashions, make-up how-tos and and heartthrob memes for obscure indie bands.
How do the kids react to this? For our kids, well, they’ve known their life whole life that there is no privacy.Inevitably a child will assert “I have a right to privacy,” after witnessing some lesson on the Constitution presented in the third grade, or after watching some badly written, made for the Disney Channel teen angst program where the parents are made to look like oppressive boobs. My husband’s immediate retort was that there is only privacy where there is an expectation of privacy and there is no expectation of privacy in our home. BoooYah!
When your child demands his constitutional right to privacy, grab a copy of the constitution and ask them to find where it actually says they have a right to privacy. They won’t be able to find it because it isn’t there.
So you might ask, if we aren’t we concerned about our fragile children’s psyche being somehow damaged by this policy. No. Aren’t we afraid of them going to great lengths to hide stuff? No. I have discovered secret email and Instagram accounts. But, they were discovered thanks to the exceptional parental espionage operations. Had we not had our own version of NSA surveillance, these fake blogs and emails might still be out there.
Why, O why would we do this to our children? Oh, I don’t know, perhaps because they are children? Prone to folly and self destruction? (Darwinism you know) And we love them? If you haven’t spent time with teenagers that are not your own, in a car, and had to listen to what concerns them, you should seek this experience out. Have you had an opportunity to sit in a high school lunchroom where adolescents speak unceasingly about what they find important? Eavesdropping on these convos is eyeopening.
So many bad issues can be completely avoided by being in constant communication with your kids, being open and honest about the issues that worry you, and then following up on your kids whereabouts and activities. Trust but verify, right?
This means talking to your kids early about, well, everything. Really get to know your kids’ lives. Ask them stuff, real stuff. ‘Who is the funniest kid in your class? Who is the meanest? Why are they mean? Do they know they are mean? Who are the stoners? How do you know? Do you think you are popular or not popular? Who’s the cutest girl? Do you think that guy is hot?” All of these questions and thousands more, help your child learn to communicate with you openly.
Then, when they do open up to you, don’t freak out if they tell you more than you bargained for. If they tell you about intimate thoughts, crushes, or concerns, don’t react as if you are shocked. Unless you grew up under a rock, your teen years were similar.
Always let them know you love them sincerely. This might be difficult to do because kids are wise to false praise and forced affection. Be affectionate when they are young and don’t stop simply because they are teens. And, remind them that you are being a meany because you love them and care for them.
No, some kids don’t like you in their business and backpacks and Instagrams. But so what? You are the parent! Once they leave the house, they have their whole life to go run rampant in stupidity. Remind them of that. “You have your whole life to do drugs!” “You have your whole life to put half naked pictures of yourself on Tumblr”, “You have your whole like to get drunk, drive and get arrested.” Just not while you live in this house! Be matter of fact from day one. I have found that being a little over the top forces them to react. “You have your whole life to get drunk!” gets the rebuttal “Mom, you know I won’t ever drink!” Get them to say it enough, and that will be their ingrained reaction when faced with it.
And remember, in this day and age, if you can get your kids through high school without getting pregnant, doing drugs, or drinking, then you have won! The rest is up to them! No one will ever love them enough to invade their privacy like you.