At what point, do we as parents cross the lines?

As parents we have some tough decisions to make.  I realize that I have a soon to be teen on my hands. I am struggling with the balance of his privacy vs my right to know. My son is 11 soon to be 12 and every day I am reminded how much our times have changed. I can honestly say my son is a good kid.  I have never had any major issues out of him. Of course he is a kid that will push the limit here and there with a little back talk but overall, he’s a good kid.

 

My son got a cell phone when he was 8 and I know you are thinking, wow 8? But the truth of the matter is I didn’t want him to have one so young but my sons father lived in a different state. He went to his dads’ house every summer for the ENTIRE summer!  There was no way I could deal with not having “anytime” contact with my son, so I bought him a cheap minute phone to start out with.

This year for Christmas I finally broke down. I added my son to my contact but it that was a tough decision for me to make. He had asked me for about a year to buy him an iPhone and I told him ABSOLUTELY NOT! I finally thought about it around Christmas time and decided that since he will be going to High School next year (in our school district High School is 7th-12th grade) that I would rather him have a phone that I can keep tabs on him with.

 

I gave my son his iPhone for Christmas and I set it up just how I wanted. I also put my fingerprint on it to unlock the phone because if I pay the bill I want full access to the phone. I do not allow my son to take his phone to school and I randomly do phone check. Phone check consist of me checking all text messages, internet history, YouTube history, and any social media he uses. Now I do not allow him to have social media like Facebook or Instagram but he does use Musical.ly and I still monitor that as well… and it’s also a requirement that we are friends too.

I don’t want to be that parent where he doesn’t get to have any privacy, but at the same time I don’t want to be that parent that has no clue what my child is up to. I want to know all his friends, I even want to know their parents too. I can remember being a teen and feeling like my parents violated my privacy all the time. It was so frustrating and it would actually piss me off. As a teen, you already feel like you know everything and you feel like your parents are clueless!

 

I used to keep a journal and I wrote a lot in my journal about my feelings. My mother read my journal and I was an emotional wreck when I found out. I felt like I had been violated and that my own personal thoughts had been taken from me, that my inner most feelings were no longer private. Now on the flip side I am a parent myself I get it, you have to check up on your kids to see what they are up to. I could have been battling depression or even considering suicide.  This was not the case for me, but maybe my mother felt the need or she was just being nosey!

 

My trust with my parents changed that day and I truly felt disrespected, but when you are a child living in your parents’ house, under their rules how much privacy do you deserve?  At what point, do we as parents cross the lines? I struggle with this balance because I was once that kid that felt violated but now I am that parent that wants to know what my child is involved in…

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Posts published: 19
  • It is SO hard in this day and age. I can’t imagine when I will do when my girls get to phone age. I love that you manage to keep your son off of Facebook and IG because I feel that those social channels can be really damaging!! I don’t know what I’m going to do. I have a ways to go, but I know I will be doing phone checks and have my fingerprint on it as well!

  • Sara B

    Such a tough question to ask. I like what Christa Melnyk Hines has to say on this topic. http://www.christamelnykhines.com/

  • Betty Boiron

    Wow my kids are not at that age yet and reading this makes me want to keep them little forever! It’s so hard making decisions like cell phones these days and you did what you thought was right. I think you are going about it the right way and seems like you have a good relationship with your son. This way he gets what he wants and you get a peace of mind.

    • Teena

      Thank I do have a great relationship with him! I want to keep my toddlers little as long as possible, especially my daughter

  • Good points! My son is 10 going on 11. And we have been going through the same thing. But my rationale is that the phone is just for games (not group public ones) and phoning us or family. It is not a right. It is not HIS private possession – it’s an appliance he gets to use. He doesn’t pay for it. He doesn’t own it. He does get use of it.

    From a very early age I have worked with my son to help him understand the issues that can arise online – from bullying to abuse. It is not his responsibility to deal with these things as an adult would – we are there to help him navigate the world, share problems and answer questions.

    We have no secrets. We do have privacy and we have surprises. We set boundaries. But there is nothing that cannot be shared. If you have to hide something from your parents on a device, you know you’re doing something wrong or something bad has happened. An adult is there to help resolve the conflict. He learns from us – and vice versa (I know what fleek is).

    So I guess explaining the difference was important to us. You can have a private diary. But you can’t have that on the phone as it’s not your diary. It has a different use. We have parent locks, I use a email service designed for children that’s secure (I get a record of every email sent and received) not because i have a bad kid – but he doesn’t deserve to be exposed to the ugly side of the internet. And that’s been explained very clearly. And he does come to us to help him deal with things and he continues to learn.

    I have a friend who is a forensic scientist – she sent me a link to show me how easy it is for our children to be targeted by pedophiles. And how so many phones aren’t secured properly. It’s my job as a parent to keep him safe and provide boundaries that are appropriate.

    • Teena

      You have come really great points. What email do you use for your child? I need to use that. You should write a post about this subject you!!!

  • Donna

    Great article, my son is 8 and asks every day for a phone! We told him 12 but the reality will be hard to stave off for that long I think!

    • Teena

      Yeah you are going to break down and get him one before 12! My son goes outside and him having a phone lets me check in on him at any moment and I usually facetime him too I want to see your face!

  • Kirstin Morabito

    It’s such a hard line!!! I think nowadays kids need phones for safety but parents should have access anytime they want.

    • Teena

      I totally agree!

  • Lois C Shabazz

    There is no limit when it comes to kids. Everything must be done in secret, but all limits are unlimited for your protection and theirs.

  • Chiara Lisbeth de Lisi

    A great question… I think the right is in the middle… Phone? Yes for safety, but under parent control!

  • David E

    I totally get this. And being a divorced parent you have a child who lives a whole other life with someone else. Even if they tell you things, you don’t really know. So how much i try to find out what is going on with my daughter and what I think are legitimate reasons for doing so is always on my mind.

    • Teena

      Man that is a tough spot to be in. I would try to continue to have a open line of communication and gain her trust so that she feels comfortable enough to come to you if there is some funny business going on.

  • The restriction of the parents always depends on the situation and demands. There is always a reason for everything and no one have a reason to question every parents way especially with what was happening nowadays that was a result of a strangers known in different social media accounts. Mother knows best and there is no doubt about it.

    • Teena

      This is so true. You know your kids and you know if they need the extra restrictions or not.

    • Teena

      Yes you are absolutely right and said it best “Mother Knows Best”

  • Amanda Jonsson

    I’m not quite at the point where I need to worry about this yet, as my oldest is only 6. But I know that it will be something that my husband and I will have to deal with eventually, so it is in the back of my mind. I definitely feel it’s harder for parents today than it was for our parents because technology advances have made it so much easier to be cut out of our kid’s lives (once they are teenagers with their own phones, that is). So I completely understand what you’re saying in that you have to have some way to check in on your son, but that balance of also giving him enough space would be hard to find. I don’t envy you, to be sure.

    I will say that even as a parent myself, I would NEVER read my kids’ personal journals. I kept a journal all throughout my childhood, and I would have felt completely violated if my parents had read it.

    • Teena

      Yes this is not a fun time but as we are parents we go through the stages of our worries that is for sure

  • Oh, I was just chatting with a Mom of a teen daughter about this topic.. I can only imagine what it will be like when my son enter his teen years.. He is currently 6 months, 🙂 🙂
    Great post! 🙂 🙂

    • Teena

      Thank you! Yes I have two toddler and I am sure there will be new challenges by that time! SMH

  • My son is only a year and a half right now, but I have thought about this a lot. We have a family friend with a daughter about your son’s age. She gets no privacy and I don’t think that she ever will. I don’t think I want to be like that, but I would like to know what’s going on in my son’s life. It’s a hard question to answer.

    • Teena

      I think if you are too over bearing that is worst. I had a friend who’s parents did not allow her to do anything and she was pregnant our senior year and married and divorced twice by our early 20’s. As parents we have to find balance.

  • Katja Knox

    I too was a kid who hated the lines being crossed but honestly, my parents crossing a line or two did not harm me growing into a respectable adult and without your blog I wouldn’t have ever thought about it as an adult. I don’t think there’s any lasting harm in checking up on your kid if you genuinely feel it’s necessary.
    Katja xxx
    http://www.katnapped.com

  • Book Swag

    You know it’s weird, when I was younger I resented my parents for crossing the lines, now all I want them to do with my new found independence is to cross the lines! sigh!

  • Cynthia Nicoletti

    I can relate. I would feel invaded if someone read my journal. I just jot down notes and things to do. It is good to keep a nice journal that you can always look back at,

  • It’s one thing to be involved in your child’s life, and it’s another to cut into their privacy. We respect the privacy of our kids, but know when it’s time to intervene.

  • Laneic Lavalle

    I love this post and thinking about my son being a teenager and how much more stuff he’ll be exposed to makes this an important topic! When Myspace came out I remember my mom having FULL access to it, and when Facebook came out I wasn’t allowed to have one for a long time and when I did finally get one, it was with the understanding that she had the password. She stayed up to date with my friends and made regular visits to my school (with my godmother haha) and stayed in contact with my teachers and coaches. When I was younger I’d complain all the time! Now being older and a mom myself I get it 100% and I’m grateful she had such a hand in my life! There are so many times when her intervention helped me! Great post and amazing insight. <3

  • Michelle

    My girls recently got phones for Christmas and they are 11 and 13 years old. I have strict rules on them. For instance they aren’t allowed in their room when they go to bed. They put them in the kitchen and I am also on all of their accts and do cell phone checks randomly. They are not allowed to have Facebook or Snapchat. But I did let them have instagram and musically. It’s hard being a parent at this day and age. I want to protect my kids always.

    • Teena

      I hear yeah! I think its harder for us then it was for our parents.

  • My mom trusted me to make intelligent choices about internet/social media. Because honestly, if they want to do it that badly, they’ll find a way to. My mom also is a friends of mine on Facebook – as are many of my relatives. So anything I wouldn’t want them to see never goes up in the first place.

    | diaryofasouthernmillennial.com

    • Teena

      I am a grown adult and I still pick and choose what I put on social media

  • Once we bought them phones we decided to give them limitations/ rules and trust them. We always let them know it could be taken away if abused, but luckily it never came to that. Other than losing the phone once, they used them fairly responsibly. On a side note, much later… my hubby picked up my grown daughter’s phone which was on and saw some texts he regrets he ever saw. Serves him right. lol

    • Teena

      I am sure a piece of your husband died that day

  • It seems so much more complicated being a parent these days. The internet is a scary place, and needs to be monitored very closely. I am glad it wasn’t around for everyone to use when I was growing up.

  • Leo T. Ly

    Very interesting question. This question will be a difficult one to find a perfect solution that’ll keep both the child and parents happy. Lucky for me. My oldest kid is only five, so I have some time. Hopeful, you will find a workable compromise and sharing with us. I would love to know what your solutions are.

  • Ashlea

    I have years till I deal with this matter and yikes I can wait. I have no idea how I will react when my son is older as even now I am pretty laid back with parenting. He is a year old. I know my mother came down to watch him for a couple days so I could rest from being sick. I am 21 years old anyways while I was asleep my son handed my mom my phone. For some reason my mom decided to go through my text messages between my husband and I. Now that was a major invasion of privacy but I had two ways to react. Get pissed which I was pretty darn annoyed or ask what she read and find out why she went through my phone without my permission

    • Teena

      OMG!I don’t know how I would react to my mother doing something like that. That was so RUDE! I would have a conversation with my mother and tell her in a respectful way I did not appreciate that….

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