Wednesday, October 30, 2013

There's a Fine Line

Snooping to snoop is an invasion of privacy, at least it is to me. Snooping for safety reasons is completely different. But there is a fine line.

Yesterday I put up a post from a guest writer about children and cyberbullying. This post is in no way meant to impugn her writing or ideas, it was just a post that got me thinking...how far is too far?

As a parent, I afford my children a lot of privacy. I don't snoop through their notes (well, with the older two I didn't, these days I'm not sure kids write notes anymore, they text instead). I don't read through their texts. And though there are parental controls on the computer they use, I don't go through the history to see what has been accessed. Their computer is in a central location of the house, I see 99% of what they're doing on it anyway.


That being said, IF there were a problem, such as cyberbullying, like the post yesterday was about, I would not have a problem taking a look at what was going on to help assess the seriousness of the problem. In fact, if there were any problem (that warranted parental guidance), it would be instinct to step right in, and I would have no qualms about it. I've done that before too.

But I do everything on the up and up. If I were to give them a cell phone with a tracking device installed, or put into place, I would tell them it was in there, and explain to them why. In fact, the tracking device seems like a great idea to me for safety reasons.

If that program also recorded every single thing they did on their portable device, I would let them know up front that it was in there too. Why? Because every single transaction that takes place between me and my children is important to me. When they grow up and look back, I want them to know they were respected and valued at all times, even when there were moments that were challenging.

I have two grown boys, and am no stranger to having to step in on an issue and put a stop to it. One of my boys went through a period where he thought drinking underage might be fun to try. His friend slipped him a bottle of Jack Daniels to hide in the house, I found it and dumped it, giving him the empty bottle and letting him know it wasn't acceptable and why. To me, hunting for that bottle was not snooping, my instincts told me there was something to be found, and the mom in me was doing it for the right reasons. I use that example to show I have absolutely gone through my older children's things at one point, but not in a way that was surprising, or just for snooping.

The issue of going through your child's things is controversial. Some people adamantly declare that it's their child and they'll do whatever they want.

Others are less invasive and have declared boundaries.

Some parents are not invasive enough (too complacent) with checking into things if they need to.

For me it boils down to knowing my child, and hearing the clues when something needs a little extra attention. Some say I am too lax, but I don't think so. If it feels right, that's what is important to me.

41 comments:

  1. ther eis a fine line...but as parents we are the ones that must raise our children the best way we know how...and if we are not intentional about it the world will teach them for us which is a scary site...i think our intentions determine much in our actions...

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  2. You're right - there definitely is a fine line. My kids are still relatively young, but I would be like you. I would afford them their privacy, but I would definitley tell them if I installed a tracking app or something like that on their phones. I don't like being sneaky and I don't want to give my kids a reason not to trust me and to go out of their way to hide anything.

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  3. I agree with you, and with Brian. My daughter just turned 6 and there have been times I have been curious what she has written in a little diary she got for her birthday. But my "gut" instinct (Holy Spirit) has not sent off any "alarm bells", so I haven't felt the need to look. If circumstances changed, I would have no problems with looking if my "gut" told me there was reason to. I say that common sense goes a long way.

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  4. As long as you are on the up and up snoop away lol yeah it is a fine line but sometimes it has to be taken for the good of everyone, such with bullies and stuff

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  5. Rosey, you are so right and have to admit that if I did anything like this, I would be honest and tell them. While I do feel my kids should be allowed some privacies growing up, I do feel like if it is in their best interest, I will definitely do all I can, but I would be honest with them and they would know about it.

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  6. My son used mom's computer and when he was done he forgot to log out of his Facebook account. She got on and didn't realize it was still on his account right away. When she did she kept reading his messages. She seemed surprised that I told her to stop reading his stuff. I have his log-in and password, if I really wanted to snoop. I don't want my kids to ever feel like they have to hide things from me. Everyone deserves to have some privacy....even kids.

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  7. I agree with letting your kids know that you're monitoring them if you feel the need to monitor them. We try to have our kids use the computers in public places around the house so they aren't tempted to just start clicking on links. We, as parents, definitely have to help then learn how to handle mobile devices and the dangers that come with them. But I agree with you Rosey, they need their privacy, but we also may need to step in. I know a mom who's daughter committed suicide over being bullied. When the stakes are so high with our kids, there are times when we need to step in when we sense something is wrong in our kid's world. Great post!

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  8. I think it is very good to be opened and honest with your children... my youngest has a FB account but I have the password... she is good with that for now ;-)

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  9. May I just say you are a good mom. Yes you are.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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  10. I would not have a problem checking out their business if I thought something serious was going on.

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  11. I'm not at those ages yet. I'm not looking forward to it. I do think that if you snoop too much it's breaking their trust. Sneaking for the reasons you said are good reasons.

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  12. I agree that it depends on the child and the situation. Thanks for sharing this post.

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  13. It's a tough decision. Some kids need more leadership than others. I will probably be a snooper.

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  14. In these days and times you have to know what your children are doing!

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  15. It sounds like you have a good line of communication going with your children!

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  16. I think you and I align pretty closely on this subject. I also always, always follow my instincts and when they start tingling and telling me something isn't right, it's because it isn't. Good on you for doing the search and find and follow-up talk after that.

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  17. Great post. I admire the kind of mother you are Rosey! Have a wonderful day.

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  18. I will give my son privacy (he is 11, so no phone, yet), however, I will let him know that either his dad or I can look at his phone, ipad, and/or computer at any time... just know that. :) I want to respect his privacy (which has to be earned, btw), but nowadays, I think you just have to be more aware of what are kids are doing, where they're at, and with whom they are with. Sigh. It's tough being a parent.

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  19. It sounds to me like you're doing a great job!

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  20. I agree with how you are handling things. My oldest son started to text on the family iPad, because he doesn't have his own phone. He is also using my email to do it....(that may need to change soon.) But we told him that we do check it. We actually found one girl kept dropping F bombs...They were only in fifth grade and I talked to one of the mom's that I am friends with who is friends with the mom whose kid was dropping F bombs. Needless to say, she was glad she was told about it and that behavior has ceased for the time being. But, yeah, honesty with my kids is very important to me...communication is key. :)

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  21. I absolutely agree. I want my children to be able to trust me, yet at the same time, we do set up boundaries. We gave our daughter a laptop for her 14 birthday, but told her up front there would be periodic checks on it to make sure she wasn't doing what we wouldn't approve of. We randomly have her bring our computer to us, and thankfully the only bad thing we found were a few movies she downloaded from a "free" site. She honestly didn't know that she was pirating them, and we told her to knock it off because it's bad, and because she will get viruses on her computer. We won't pay to replace for careless downloads causing her computer to break because of viruses like that.

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  22. On another note, I don't feel it's appropriate to snoop throught hubby's things either. There was something on the radio that said What would you do to have a full day your your so's cell phone and not get caught? My girls were like "what would you do?" Nothing. I wouldn't do it. If it ever stooped to me having to snoop through his stuff, I would consider the marriage pretty much over at that point. I trust hubby 100%. Anything less than that will have me at the courthouse filing for divorce. No snooping required.

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  23. luckily we are not at that age yet... but i hope to be able to trust, he has it, until he gives me a reason not to ... i know trust is important... he will not get me being nosy... but i will question things if need be... not out of not trusting, but out of love and care...

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  24. There definitely is a fine line. I worry about this already for when we have kids in the future. You want to be able to trust them and give them leeway, but today it's so dangerous with cyber bullying. Seems like the best thing to do is know your child well so you can see if there are any changes. And let them know they can always talk to you about anything without judgment.

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  25. These are some great questions to ask. I'm a first time mom so I am always looking at what people have done to see what has worked and what hasn't. I'm not so sure that I will establish privacy in our home because it sounds like it can cause too much confusion if I need to invade it or not. I think we would probably do something similar to you with the open, central location for the computer if my kids needed to use it. I guess I will have to see how it goes. I don't like to be one to say I will never do things because I won't know what we will do until we are in that very situation. I have several years before I will have to start really thinking about these types of things. Your post should definitely keep parents wheels turning :)

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  26. Thought provoking stuff. I think parents should be engaged with what their kids are doing. And, as you say, if that means installing something on their phone... well, do it... BUT tell them. Your relationship is about honor and respect. And you are teaching that, too.

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  27. When my kids were younger, I didn't snoop, but if I were still raising them I might. The world has changed and there are new issues that didn't exist in the past. Parents have the legal right to go through anything that belongs to their minor children, and that's not too bad these days, especially when a life could be at stake.

    http://joycelansky.blogspot.com

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  28. When it kids especially in social media I think they need to know that you are there and can look in whenever. At this point as far as tracking goes, I think he'd have to give me a reason not to trust him before I'd tell him he can be tracked. I don't know. That's a tuffy. I'm hoping that keeping communication open will be enough but we all know that puberty has another personality. SMH at the thought of how sneaky I was.

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  29. great post!! especially for parents... i love your blog..do you want to follow each other? following you now on bloglovin =)

    www.lesley-kim.com

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  30. The difference between being heavy handed and even handed is that you are guided by love. I found alcohol on the floor of my 17 year old son's closet. I took it back to the store and gave him back his money but told him that next time I was keeping it. He was oldest of 4 and I expected better from him and we talked long and hard on it. He know has 10 children and is a wonderful father. He is grateful that I cared enough to monitor his behavior.

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  31. Parenting is always a challenge, and these days it must be a lot harder in many ways. But your job as a parent is to control things and keep them safe, at least up to a point. Being very aware of your children and how they're acting is probably one of the best ways to detect early signs of trouble.

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  32. Parenting has changed so much since I was a parent. I usually gave them privacy unless I suspected something and mothers do have that keen perception, then I'd ask and then snoop as a last resort.
    But snoop away, our country does it.

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  33. I agree with you that we have to respect our children and give them some privacy. I hope that I can do that in the future when my son grows up. You know sometimes thinking is much easier than taking actions.

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  34. I am in agreement with you. Our Son is nineteen and attending his second year of culinary college away from home. When he was still living at home, I would do an occasional cursory search of his room just to be sure that I was not missing anything. I also kept a close account on his social media accounts. I would rather have an argument with my child about 'snooping' rather than have something terrible happen and I did nothing to prevent it. We are very close and I am glad. He calls every day and I think he tells me about every aspect of his life. At the very least, he knows he can come to me with anything and I will be there for him.

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  35. I agree they need their life I think they even need to make some mistakes but I have no hesitation if I think it's dangerous.

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  36. If they earn it they should have some privacy

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  37. It is so hard to know what is right and wrong when raising kids. I agree with you, they need their privacy, unless there is a problem... then stepping in you must do. Glad to hear you would let them know first. I also agree with that.

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  38. I have always been pretty upfront with my oldest; I will give you privacy, I will not read your journal ever UNLESS there is something going on that makes it necessary for your safety in my opinion as your parent to read. She has loved that I give her privacy. The key to giving a child privacy is setting trust and boundaries from an early age; that way you know and they know where the line is drawn in your household. I personally feel that a child doesn't have any privacy if they are hanging with the wrong crowd, acting as if something is off with them or other tell tale signs that say "red flag" "red flag" you should check up on them. With that being said, I'm pretty close to my oldest - we talk every night before bed and if she has an issue or a concern or even just wants to ramble the tween talk to me ... I listen. I have always listened therefore I know I can trust her. Just remember no matter how much trust you give a child or feel you have in a child that they are still A CHILD - which means they will STILL make bad decisions from time to time so don't just let them raise their own self.

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  39. I think there should be a balance. And I like how you handle these interactions on honest ground.

    I love a parent who respects their children. I think adults should show respect to children and not just demand it. It's wrong.
    I was just saying this very thing to my children the other day.

    I've always shown them respect and not only teach it and I will continue as they get older.

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  40. I just hope I can delay them getting their own cells as long as possible! ;-)

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  41. Rosey,
    I think you've struck a good balance between respecting kids' privacy and being a parent who isn't afraid to step in if there's a reason to! Well done!

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