In the past week I have had three phone calls with desperate moms who need help in handling a teen who keeps crying out about the injustice of having their privacy invaded. I thought I’d share a few of my thoughts about this with you all too….in case any of you are also dealing with this issue.
The thing about teens needing privacy is…..it’s bunk. This is a “rule” of life that the teen just made up. Then society and psychology feeds it by telling them that they deserve it. I’m sorry, but it simply isn’t true.
Yes, we all need times that we can be alone with our thoughts to figure out problems or rest or help a friend occasionally. But the idea that we should be able to keep secrets about what we are doing or planning or that kids should be allowed to hide their texts from their parents is pure craziness.
You, the parents, are responsible for your child’s actions and you are providing for and protecting them. They have no right to privacy from you. You give them the privacy that YOU think they need, not that they demand. In fact, the more they demand it the less I will give. That just tells me that they are hiding something and that’s not OK.
God gave us all a built in private place through our thoughts, dreams and prayers. Your children have that automatically and they have complete control over how much of that they will share with you. Parents definitely should not try to push their way into their child’s thoughts. It’s disrespectful.
BUT they do not automatically get privacy over what’s in their drawers or who they talk to on the phone or where they are going. That privacy is earned by proving you are trustworthy.
Now let me say here that I have never gone through my children’s drawers or made them show me their texts. When we have a problem, I may tell them that because I am not trusting them in a certain area it would be best if they show me those things. If they refuse (which has never happened so I am just thinking here) I would take the phone, contents of the drawer, etc. from them and hold it until they agreed to show it to me and discuss it responsibly and face whatever consequences come with their choices. I would not just look through it behind their back unless I felt something dangerous was happening.
I work hard to make sure my kids can trust me not to overreact when they tell me they have done something they shouldn’t. However, I have no problem taking a phone away, putting restrictions on it, holding favorite toys, whatever it takes to teach the lesson. I love my children too much to let something like an ipod or toy come between them and their godly character.
The very idea that a child (and yes, teens are still children no matter what they think) can demand to have secret phone conversations or hide what is in their purse is simply the result of a world losing touch with righteousness.
Here’s what God has to say on the matter from Luke 12:2-3, “Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.”
He also says in Romans 13 that we are not to resist the authorities that God has appointed for us. It is clear on that subject, but never says anything about 13 year olds having a right to use their phone at midnight.
I know this seems harsh. I do think that a responsible, respectful teen should be able to have some private areas, as long as he knows that he is subject to being asked to share those places if a problem arises. The main point is that YOU decide where privacy is allowed and not. A young person does not yet have the wisdom, no matter how smart they are, to understand when that is necessary. They also do not carry the weight of the financial, emotional, legal, physical or spiritual responsibility if something serious happens as a result of their actions. You have every right to know what they are doing.
As long as my children are doing their work, taking care of their things, being respectful and kind….I give them privacy. Although what’s funny is they don’t really feel the need for it as much if they aren’t trying to hide anything, which leads to me being happy to give it to them….the beautiful circle of trust.