Respecting their space
As a parent of teens, you notice their strong desire for independence and privacy. Sometimes it’s hard to know the line between staying informed and respecting privacy. Parents wonder how far they should trust their teen, what boundaries are appropriate and how they can best watch out for them.
The importance of Privacy
According to Indiana University-Purdue University professor Dr. Sandra Petronio, children develop an understanding of what privacy means to them as they age. Even at a young age, a child will set up rules about who they are comfortable changing in front of, who is allowed in their room and how they record and hide their secrets. Often the smallest things are considered treasured tokens of the safety they find in privacy from unwanted eyes.
Petronio says, “Parents must acknowledge their children’s rights to have these rules whether they like them or not. If they simply invade their privacy, children will be very creative about ways to keep information from their parents.”
Encouraging Healthy Privacy
Petronio says parents can respect and encourage privacy without losing tabs on their child’s activities:
“You’re allowing your child to have control with the understanding that whatever they do in that private space isn’t going to harm them in any way. You give them the responsibility of caring for themselves and doing the right thing, because in the end they know when something is wrong.”
Parents should trust their children if they haven’t given any indication of breaking that trust. Requesting permission before looking at your child’s texts, computer cache or in their room will help them know they can trust you not to “snoop” and Petronio says 35 years of research says more than 90 percent of children won’t tell their parents “no” if simply asked first.
The less your teen trusts you, the better they will be at hiding what they don’t want you to see; work to build trust and communication–not tear it down.