Should You Snoop?
Dr. Patricia Nan Anderson
Responsibilities & Values
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Maybe you have reason to believe your teen is doing something she shouldn’t do.
Maybe you wonder what your teen is up to online.
Maybe you’re just curious…
Every teen’s parent faces this question: should you snoop? Here are some things to consider before you do.
- What are you afraid of? Is there really any basis for thinking your child might be up to no good? Is there really any danger your child will get into big trouble if no one intervenes? If you don’t have any evidence but simply believe there must be something going on, then don’t snoop. If you do have evidence, then go to Step Two.
- Have you asked? Talk to your child. Ask him about what’s worrying you. Let him explain his position on the issue and describe his involvement or not. If after a conversation, you still want to see what’s in his top dresser drawer or on his Facebook page, ask for permission. Ask him to show you what you want to see.
- Explain your position. Consider that you may not have made your opinion clear on underage drinking, pornography, or “friending” everyone who asks. If this is the case, then now is the time to have a heart-to-heart talk about what you believe and why. This conversation may not stop behavior that is already underway but it at least sends the message that you’re concerned and you do have a position.
- Model what you want to see. Do you want your teen to snoop on you? Do you want your child to be open and honest with you or do you want to create a sort of spy vs spy relationship? Difficult as it might be to let your child make mistakes, ruining the trust he has in you is a big mistake too. To be trusted with your teen’s most dangerous secrets, you must first be trustworthy.
- Think back to your own teen years. Did you keep secrets from your parents? Are there things you did – maybe things you’re ashamed of now – that your parents would have been dismayed to know? Try to put your own child’s adolescence in perspective. If you survived, probably your kid will too.
The temptation to snoop comes from the best part of ourselves, our desire to be helpful and to keep our child from harm. At some point, though, we must step back and let our kids grow up. This might be that point, right now.
© 2012, Patricia Nan Anderson. All rights reserved.