Teenage years are some of the most awkward times of anyone’s life. The struggle for independence can cause division between parent and child. It is important to remember that working through intense intellectual and emotional development while undergoing tremendous physical changes can be challenging. If you give your teen too much privacy, they may take advantage of this freedom and you’ll be in the dark about all of their behavior. If you don’t give them enough privacy, or invade it constantly under suspicion, it’s common for them to wear the coat of defiance, leaving you both with lost mutual trust. So, where do you draw the line?
The first step is to realize that your teen’s need for privacy is a positive development necessary for their continued personal growth. Your challenge as a parent is to respect that privacy while reserving the right to violate it when you feel it is necessary. Remember that your teen wants to be thought of as mature and capable of handling things alone. Giving them time to write in a journal or talk with their friends via email or phone are great examples of where you can start this leap of faith in the early stages of permitting privacy.
When you are thinking about when to let your teen have privacy, there are a few things to keep in mind. Reflect on how honest and responsible they have proven to be to help you determine the amount of privacy you will allow. Setting boundaries is also a great idea that will help keep your child safe with this newfound freedom. These boundaries may include specific details on the type of privacy allowed, as well as consequences if trust is broken. Be aware of where and when to invade, and above all, trust your instincts. For instance, if you suspect drug use, see signs of depression or mental illness, abusive relationships, or even signs of an eating disorder, then this may be the time where you have to cross the line and intervene.
Keep in mind that your child’s safety and well-being are more important than privacy at all times. Just remember that before you fly into spy mode, talking with your teen should be the first step into figuring out what is really going on. No matter how you approach this issue, it is going to be uncomfortable at first, so hold on to the notion that change isn’t always a bad thing and that you are helping your child towards independence and individuality. One day, they will leave and now is the time to safely prepare them to fly.
Sabrina Short, Staff Writer