Teens and Rights to Privacy

Some of you may remember Carly, Friend of Daughter? Well, rambunctious Carly has managed to spark the debate of the century among her peers and their parents.

For those not familiar with Carly, she’s a bit of a wild child, engaging in all sorts of risky behaviour unbeknownst to her mother, who I understand was a bit of a wild child herself back in the day, and has been trusting Carly to not do anything too stupid.

Until now.

First there was the incident described in the aforementioned blog post where Carly said she was sleeping over at our house, but was really sneaking off to sleep in the park with her boyfriend. Mom eventually found out (with a teensy bit of help from me) and grounded her for a week

 Then, a couple of weeks ago Carly came home from the school dance both high AND drunk. (Those were the days, eh?) Mom called the school to rat her out and Carly got suspended.

Then Mom went through Carly’s room inch by inch and plunged into Carly’s computer and pulled out all her emails and msn archives and Facebook pages read them all.

She found out:

  •  Carly has been using msn and Facebook during forbidden times
  • Carly has been drinking and smoking pot on a regular basis
  • Carly has been stealing liquor from her parent’s stash
  • Carly has been trying to get into the pot-selling business
  • Carly has been sneaking out every weekend in the middle of the night to attend parties
  • Carly has been sexually active with one or more boys that her mother doesn’t know
  • Carly has been skipping school; has failed several tests and quizzes; has not done assignments and has been intercepting phone messages from the school
  • Carly hates her mother and her step-father and her brothers and thinks they’re all freaks

Okay. So now all Carly’s peers are outraged that her mother violated her privacy. Most of them don’t necessarily like Carly or what she’s been up to and think she’s being stupid, but still feel that parents should not be allowed to read their teenaged child’s private conversations with friends.

They’re also angry because Carly’s Big Bust has sparked a rash of snooping by everyone else’s parents.

I think young people deserve a certain amount of privacy. We can’t hover over them forever. They need to experiment, make their own mistakes and learn from them — to  a certain extent and withing certain boundaries.  I sure wouldn’t have wanted my parent rooting through my room or sticking their noses into my business  when I was that age.

That being said, I keep pretty close tabs on mine. If she’s staying overnight somewhere, I talk to the other girl’s parent. If mine had pulled a stunt like Carly did back in the summer she would not have been grounded for one week. She would have been in shackles and her entire life would have been an open book from then on.

I also confess to having cruised through my daughter’s archived msn messages. I’ve been a little surprised by some of the conversations, but there hasn’t been anything that has inspired me to investigate further.

So the question being debated throughout XUP Jr.’s High School these days is:  Do teens have a right to privacy and to what extent? Should parents snoop as a matter of course or just when they have reasons to be suspicious? When does the snooping start (8? 10? 12?) and how long does this snooping go on (14? 16? 18?)  As long as they live in the same house? Beyond?

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57 responses to “Teens and Rights to Privacy

  1. Pingback: Teens and Rights to Privacy | jdTVu

  2. Oh man. I think you can’t really decide in advance how you would handle this situation. There’s no hypothetical — you won’t know what you will do until you’re in it.

    I hope to be able to give my kids a good degree of privacy as teens. Privacy was a very big thing with my mother — she’d grown up very closely monitored and as a result was very big on never opening our mail or going through our closets or anything. I did appreciate it although I was such an enormous goody-goody she never really had anything at all to worry about. I think I cut class once in my entire school career, and almost died from fear of being caught.

    I plan to: allow my kids’ rooms to be off limits to me, as long as they keep it neat and tidy (otherwise, I will clean it and whatever I find is fair game!); allow my kids to have private email and MSN conversations, but only on the family computer which is in a public area; provide a phone for private conversations but not allow a phone in their rooms.

    Is that naive? Who knows. If I did fear that they were lying to me about where they were…or were doing drugs…or were into other bad stuff on the internet…I can’t say I would be able to keep it hands-off. I know myself, and I know that I would want to know!

  3. Hi XUP,

    No. While they are depending on us, lie under our the same roof, depend on us, we have to wash their underwear, pay their parties, etc., etc. No. We still have control of their lives and we must be vigilant on their activities.

    Once they move on with their lives and reach their independence, they can go on their own and we must just hope all our efforts were for good.

    Yep. Radical. I know.

  4. I’m gonna have to pull the “while you live under my roof, you’ll live by my rules” card.

    If I’m paying for the cell phone, I’ll have access to all the txt messages AND the voicemail. If I’m paying for the Internet, I’ll have access to emails. They are SO naive to think that anything they write on the Internet is private anyway! It’s not!

    I want her to know that she can come to me with any issues she may have and I won’t judge her. And, I mean that! I think that by being open with the “it’s just the way things are: your privacy is rather limited” policy, and by keeping the lines of communication open, we’ll be fine.

    I’m not sure what it’s like in Canada, but in the States, the schools hold the right to go through lockers. Notes and cell phones can be confiscated by teachers. It seems crushing and horrible to a teenager, but until they are really adults, someone else really is responsible for their well-being.

    As for what happens when she goes to college? If she’s footing the bill, she can do what she wants, and I won’t butt in. If I’m paying for it, there will some hoops to jump through. But, to me, that’s a separate issue from the teens-living-at-home and really depends on how things have gone up to that point…

    So, back on the teen topic…My thought has always been that if you’re not doing anything wrong, what does it matter if your parents snoop? Snooping doesn’t mean they don’t love you. Snooping doesn’t mean they have trust issues with you…it just means they’re trying to be good parents.

    Kids these days! 😉

  5. Never having had a teen of my own I know all that’s needed to take care of them. I did though have the fun of coaching a few hundred of them and the thing I saw over and over was that parents don’t understand these fights were won or lost before the kids were into double digits. If you have raised them to respect you and themselves, then the things they hide from you as a teen are mostly minor. When they have never been trusted, and now the parents try to control them they are perfectly capable of slipping the leash whenever they wish.
    As for age wasn’t it you that left home at 17. Were you too old, too young, or was it about right. It differs with each child. Trust that you have already formed the child and trust them to move on into adulthood.

  6. AND! I forgot to add…

    The fact that “dude, my mom will totally find out if I ____” is a great excuse to use in situations of peer pressure.

    It’s like providing an easy answer for your child to use in a situation where s/he wouldn’t want to do something they know they shouldn’t, but they don’t want to appear uncool.

    I’m not sure if that even makes sense. It totally made sense in my head. 😉

  7. Lynn – You’re so funny about t thinking your kids are going to keep their rooms clean. There’s a battle you’re never going to win unless you have freakishly tidy teens. My daughter’s room is so bad I don’t even want to go in there. She can’t have food in there so I least I know nothing’s growing in there, but I definitely wouldn’t go in there and clean it. Acckkk! It’s her space and she has to keep the door closed. The computer and TV are in other rooms, she can’t have her cell phone in there when she’s doing homework. Once in a while she tidies up and I’m invited in to admire it. Five minutes later it’s a big mess again.

    Guillermo – I agree completely. Vigilance is a good word. Parenting doesn’t stop just because your kid is taller than you. You have to keep a close eye on them, their friends, and their activities. But slowly you have to allow them some independence, some privacy so they can test their wings, no? I wouldn’t want to send them into the world without any sort of experience in living their own lives. Being a teenager is sort of like being on parole — the transition between the lockdown of childhood and the release of adulthood.

    CP – Most of the crap they talk about it really boring, so monitoring their conversations isn’t a fun thing to do. Like I said to Guillermo, you have to release them in infitesimal stages — when and how you think they’re ready and responsible. I totally get what you mean about them needing boundaries, too — an “out” when peers try to get them to do stuff they don’t really want to do, but have no excuse for not doing without sounding like dweebs. And I believe schools have the right to search lockers here too.

    Bandobras- Well, I don’t think that a teen who is out of control is hopeless because he/she wasn’t raised right. Is it ever too late to try to be a better parent? And 17 was waaaay too early to leave home

  8. I agree with what Lynn said. I believe kids have a right to privacy. Maybe not an absolute or inviolable right, but a reasonable right.

    I only recall invading my son’s privacy once, and that was when he told me he would be at his father’s place and told his father he would be at mine. While he was “missing” I searched the computer for clues to his whereabouts.

    Momma Casual Perfectionist says it all hinges on money – that parents have the right to control what they pay for. I disagree. I think kids are of necessity dependent upon us financially, but that doesn’t mean we own them or that we have the right to know everything they’re doing, thinking, or feeling. Part of the job of being a teenager is to establish one’s own boundaries and autonomy from one’s parents. As parents, we need to respect that process.

  9. Never having raised a teen, I’m not really qualified to speak on this topic, but I have been a teen, and from what I hear about other people’s teen years, I had a very unusual upbringing. My father would never have dreamed of snooping through my mail/room/etc, and I would never have dreamed of not telling my father about some nefarious activity, like going out to a party, drinking, or what have you.

    I managed to pretty much stay out of trouble, and I knew that I could turn to my father whenever I needed something. We had such an open relationship that it wouldn’t have occurred to me to try and hide something, and I generally respected his point of view. (e.g. “Hey dad, I just got back from doing acid and cliff-diving!” “Uh…you probably shouldn’t do that in the future.” “What about just cliff diving?” “Yeah, that’s fine.”)

    I used to use my upbringing as an argument for raising children with respect so that they treat you with respect, and basically letting teens make their own mistakes, but I think that I’m actually just a freak, and that sometimes you do need to violate privacy for safety reasons. That said, I do think that teens have a reasonable expectation of privacy, and that potential privacy violations should be made explicit, as in “if you fail to inform me of your whereabouts, I will go through your instant messages.” I think that being too controlling and too aggressive about violating privacy can be a dangerous thing.

  10. I’m not a parent so I have no wisdom to bring to the table here — but I think it is a fascinating topic. And Reason #362 I’m glad I didn’t have children!

  11. I never said I *would* monitor ALL conversations, etc…I just said that as the parent, I have the right to. The fact that I *could* monitor anything and everything will either create a sneaky kid or let her know that I’m available. Communication is a two-way street.

    Thankfully, my daughter is 3, so I have a few years to go before a real need for this is established.

    I want her to be independent, yet I’m not naive enough to think that she’ll always be around the right crowd. I want her to be able to make her own mistakes, but still be able to help guide her.

    Parenting is a tightrope, that’s for sure!

    And, I didn’t mean to say that it’s all based on money. I do believe parents have a right to control what they pay for, but I think we can do that without stifling our kids. I was relatively highly monitored as a child, and I still grew up to be an independent thinker and had no problems making my way in the world as an adult.

    I enjoy reading everyone’s comments!

    🙂

  12. great topic, mostly because i have young daughters and i know that at some point i will need some of the tips and suggestions from other moms and advance notice of what to expect.

    i think that most kids will do things and make mistakes and this is normal BUT i really do think that now a days we are talking about making a mistake like using deadly drugs like METH where years ago it was POT.

    even pot now a days is laced with many dangerous and stronger things than just weed.

    simply put, things are different now so the rules must change and there needs to be more supervision.

    would it be unrealistic to say that kids do no deserve and should not need any privacy while they are living at home?

    when i was growing up there was no such thing as having private things or private areas. my mom and dad went into my room and through my things whenever they liked.

    just my thoughts…

  13. I keep an eagle eye on DH’s girls. They live in my house and have been warned to expect absolutely no privacy whatsoever. I read diaries, MSN chats and whatever else I can get my hands on. They’ll get privacy when they start paying the bills. In their own place.

    My therapist says I’m wrong. She says no, we have to bond with children and foster an environment of mutual trust, so that our teens will come to us and freely discuss what’s on their minds.

    I think she’s sniffing glue or something way more potent. I don’t care how much trust you have between you, your teen will never come up to you and say “Mom, I’ve decided I’d like to experiment with hard drugs.” or “Mom, I know I’m only 14 but I’d like to lose my virginity.” These are conversations you will never have, so I dismiss her “atmosphere of trust” statement entirely as being completely unrealistic.

  14. Oh, and the messy room thing? Not an option. If they choose to leave things out of place in their rooms, or stuff on the floor, they get one warning and then they lose it. Does wonders for keeping their rooms tidy.

    Perhaps it’s overly strict (I personally don’t think so, but I was raised that way myself) but it’s my house and I don’t have to live by their rules… *they* have to live by mine.

  15. My mother use to do a bi-weekly raid of my room when I was at school. When she wasn’t rooting around in there my brothers were. I use to leave all sorts of things around for them to find. I even bought a Playgirl or two and hid them under the mattress to ward off any thoughts they may have had that I was a big ole dyke.

  16. Like Zoom brought up, parents don’t own their children. As a mom to two little ones, I don’t see them as my property. They are individuals, and it’s my job to mold them and teach them to be the best they can be. Part of this is instilling trust.

    I was raised in a house with very little privacy. It was a small space, so there was nowhere to hide. However, what little privacy we did have was respected. My mom never went through my journal, or listened in on my phone conversations. She knew all my friends, and when I went out, she knew who I was going with. I knew what was right and wrong. If I broke curfew, I was grounded. I once showed up drunk, and I was punished and had a stern lecture on the dangers of drinking. Yeah, I wasn’t perfect, but I never got in trouble for the same thing twice. I also knew that I could call my mom at any hour and ask her to come pick me up, no questions asked, or share something with her and get honest, objective, non-preachy advice.

    With that said, it’s obvious that Carly’s mom hasn’t done the greatest job at fostering an open, honest relationship with her daughter. Going through her things won’t help the relationship, but I don’t see how she had any other option. So, yeah, snoop when you have to, but focus on being an active parent so you don’t have to stoop to that level.

  17. Ownership is not the right word but our kids are our reponsibility. Every kid is different, some need very little monitoring and some need a lot. I was fortunate and didn’t have the cell phone/computer problem as bad as parents have it today. Sometimes I would grab the binoculars and I could read her computer IMs and they were all innocuous. She never suspected a thing because she could hear me talking about what was on TV in the other room and her back was to me. When she would get moody I would sometimes flip through her journals and it was usually that some boy had snubbed her or something so I would try to cheer her up. I really don’t see how Carly was doing all of this and her mother didn’t notice anything. That seems odd to me. Maybe if I weren’t such a night owl, my daughter may have snuck out, too. I’ll ask her next time I see her. But it’s hard to sneak out when your Mom is still up.

  18. I apologize in advance for anything that I might say which could be redundant, I didn’t many of the previous comments. One or two things in response to geewits comment:
    I don’t think it’s appropriate to read or even “flip through” a child’s journals, unless when you say moody you mean dangerously so. I know I get moody from time to time (I should mention that I’m 19) due to my sometimes frustrating boyfriend or roommates, and I sulk and become a bit anti-social at times, but if anyone (parent or otherwise) decided that I was cause to read my personal thoughts I’d flip a bitch. Pardon my English, but I can’t think of any other phrase to better describe the anger I would feel. Even living at home during high school, I cannot imagine my mom ever ever ever going through my journal.
    Also, parents who stay up late do put a damper on sneak-out plans. At least it did for me back in the day, haha.

    Rooms: well, I am a messy person. And I was in a constant struggle with my parents about my room being kept clean. We never really reached a perfect balance with that issue, although I can certainly understand their frustration. For awhile I didn’t have a door on my room so they could monitor my mess more easily, and also make sure I was cleaning properly. If I ever wanted privacy (to write in my journal, change clothes, etc.) I’d have to hole up in the bathroom. That got very annoying. I feel like that was a tad bit extreme. Making me keep my door open while cleaning my room, fine. But removing the door completely…I dunno about that. I think in the future if/when I have children of my own, I’ll just require beds to be made before they leave for school, work, or social outings, and floor picked up and things put away before bed or within a few hours of using them. If I have naturally neat and organized kids, awesome. But I know from my own life and experience that being neat and tidy is a huge struggle for some people. As long as they’re room isn’t disgusting I’ll give them some leeway, I think.

    But to answer the actual question: I don’t think teens have the right to privacy. Not necessarily anyway. Privacy and trust are two closely connected aspects of the child-parent relationship. You can’t really expect privacy if your parents don’t trust you, and if you don’t trust your child it’s nearly impossible not to snoop. I think it’s good to give your child the benefit of the doubt for the most part. Be sure to know who their friends are. When they’re younger (elementary school through junior high) maybe meet the parents or talk to them on the phone before letting kids spend the night at a friend’s house. When they get older, know who they’re dating. And always try to keep communication open with your children. If they feel like they can trust you to listen to them (their questions, concerns, beliefs and opinions) without immediately judging them, or interrupting them, or telling them they’re wrong straight away, they won’t feel the need to hide everything from you. Sure, they’re gonna have some secrets. What kid doesn’t? But for the most part they’ll be more likely to talk to you about things going on in their life. At the very least, they’ll ask questions or tell you smaller things that will clue you in to the big issues at hand. And I feel that if a child is having issues with behavior, or getting in trouble at school, or failing all their classes (not just one test mind you), the internet is fair game. Check their myspaces and their facebooks and their chats. But only in those drastic situations.
    And as a disclaimer: yes, I am only 19. I don’t have children of my own, and I don’t have younger siblings. But I’ve been out of the house for awhile, and I have friends (older, not also 19) who have children that I’ve met through school and work, and my mom and I are very close and she has no problem telling me what it has been like raising me, so I think I have some good insight from both sides of the issue. Not that any parents don’t remember what it was like to be a kid, but I know in my parents case, they didn’t have issues of internet privacy or cell phones or every child having a car.

  19. This is a hard one. My girls are young yet and I haven’t thought much about their privacy. If they are in their rooms with the door closed, I knock before entering. And I leave them alone to talk with their friends on the phone. I guess my ideas of what amount of privacy to grant them are going to have to evolve as they grow.

  20. This is the sort of subject that makes me second guess wanting kids. I don’t think I’m ready for this sort of stuff.

  21. I have no clue. And will never have to have a clue. Reason 568 why I don’t have kids.

    I love ’em to death but wouldn’t want to live with one.

  22. This is an easy question.

    If you feel the need to invade a teenager’s privacy, which, frankly, I think is disgusting, you have failed as a parent until that point. The ‘formative’ years have passed, and this time is where they learn their own lessons.

    You know what makes your teenager hate you? This. You know what makes your teenager respect you? Honesty. Don’t sugarcoat what you think about what they tell you, but be honest about it. Make sure they understand the consequences. They ARE capable of doing that.

    To make a person feel like a prisoner in their own home will make them increasingly reluctant to ever go home.

  23. It sounds to me that those who feel a need to snoop on their kids constantly without specific cause aren’t very close to them or have serious control issues themselves.

    I don’t have to snoop through my kids stuff because if I want to know something I ask. Then I listen.

    I’m not saying that there have never been conflicts where I have to exert parental authority, but I don’t look for trouble where there isn’t any. Maybe I’ve just been lucky.

    Perhaps being an older single parent is an advantage because I’m not distracted from my kids by giving some other relationship a priority, like I think Carly’s mom did. It works for us.

    One other thing – the concept that people don’t deserve privacy and shouldn’t want it if they’re not doing something wrong is so totally wrong-headed. Sounds like communism or overzealous homeland security edicts. I’m a strong proponent of privacy myself, and I try to extend that to my kids.

  24. Zoom – I think it depends a lot on the child and the circumstances. There have really only been a couple of times where I felt the need to look through some of my daughter’s msn conversations because something she was telling me didn’t make sense. And she knows I did it and why. Generally speaking if the child is open and honest and seems to be keeping his/her nose clean there should be no reason to violate their privacy – just like in real life! I think Carly’s mother could have done a bit more snooping back when she found out Carly had been lying about where she was spending the night – which I thought was a far worse infraction than being drunk at a school dance. You’re right though parents need to let their kids find their way in life with a certain amount of autonomy, but I think parents need to maintain the boundaries which can, of course be re-negotiated/revised any time.

    Meloukhia – That certainly was an usual childhood. And I think your take on privacy issues is valid. Even adults don’t have inviolate rights to privacy. We are watched and monitored at work, on the streets, in banks and everywhere else there are CCTV cameras. We have to answer to our spouses and even our children. As long as we operate on the up and up, we should be okay – but as soon as we commit a crime or some sort of “social infraction” our privacy can and will be invaded. And the clean room – totally freaky!

    Debra – You don’t need to be a parent to have an opinion, but thanks. Parenthood certainly is never dull.

    CP – It’s interesting to me to get the input from people with younger kids compared to those with older or grown children. As parents, I think we end up having to make it all up as we go along – revising our methods, ideas, goals. We just keep hoping that we’re doing it right.

    Raino – Yikes! I think teenagers absolutely need privacy. It’s a very difficult, confusing, wonderful, interesting time with so much going on, so many pressures from so many areas. They need a place of their own to decompress and be themselves. A room of their own is great, but not always possible in big families or families with smaller homes. I think the issue has changed a bit because I never really kept anything top secret in my room knowing that with a houseful of people anyone could have found it. We kept our secrets in our heads and in conversations with our friends. Now conversations are all documented and open to invasion.

    Susan – I hope you’re wrong. I’ve told my daughter she can tell me anything and that if/when she decides she wants to drink, try drugs and/or sex to let me know. She did confessed to once trying pot – after the fact because of course it wasn’t something she’d planned or planned to do again. We talked about it. I know there are things she’s never going to discuss with me. And that’s cool. She doesn’t have to tell me everything all the time and I don’t need to know everything she’s talking about with her friends. I think trust between family members is essential. But I also think parents need to keep parenting and keep an eye on their kids; know where they are and where they’re going; know when they’re not seeming happy or quite right in some way; know when there’s a problem – so we can step in before bad stuff happens. And we should be able to know these things just by knowing our children; not necessarily by always needing to snoop through their stuff – that’s the back-up plan.

    Cedar – My room was a disaster area when I was a teen. Once in a while my mum would get fed up and come in and toss the place and make a big pile of all my stuff in the middle of my floor so I’d be forced to clean up if I wanted to find anything or sleep since my mattress was usually on top of the pile.

    Sharon – Excellent point and made much more succinctly than how I’ve been going about it. Your last sentence sums it all up brilliantly. Thanks and thanks for visiting the blog.

    Geewits – Love the binocular trick! Parents certainly need to be a bit devious and a bit of an investigative and intuitive genius. And you’re right, no one could ever figure out how Carly got away with all this stuff – including her friends. I think her mom is a big believer in total freedom for her kids that they need to be trusted and given free reign. As you say some kids would thrive in such an environment and some, obviously, just take advantage.

    Alissa – Thank you so much for visiting and for your input. I think you’re bang on in everything you say and I think for the most part parents would agree with that. I’ve completely given up getting into it with my daughter about her room. The deal is she keeps the door closed, no food in there and she has to pick up after herself and help keep the rest of the house clean and then she can keep her room how she wants it. Occasionally I have to peek in there to talk to her and it always scares me, so I stay away. Your suggestions are all very wise and very fair and I think quite in line with my own beliefs. I really appreciate you taking the time to contribute so thoroughly to the discussion so we could get a younger person’s perspective, too.

    Alison – That’s a good way of looking at it. Read Alissa’s comment above – it’s a good insight. And you’re right, parenting is an evolutionary process tweaked and adjusted as we go along specific to the circumstances and the individual children involved.

    Loth – You’ll figure it out together. If he comes home beaten and bloodied and stoned out of his tree most evenings, you should probably go snoop through his stuff. If his room is always spotless and he’s a constant joy, smiling and helpful, getting straight As in school you should definitely go snoop through his stuff.

    A&J – You learn as you go along. First you have to be ready for an infant. If you’re ready for that the rest will come as they grow.

    Jazz – You should hook up with Debra, she’s only on reason #362

    Annie – Wow. There’s a big difference between imprisoning your children and keeping an eye on their safety and welfare. You can be the best parent in the world and have a perfect child, but that’s no guarantee that they’re not going to find themselves in trouble at some point. Maybe they can handle it themselves and maybe they can’t. Maybe they don’t feel able to talk to you about it no matter how open and honest your relationship is. The teenage brain is an interesting thing – it doesn’t always think logically and clearly. Teenagers do still need parents. And sometimes your role will be to rescue them when they haven’t even asked for help or are unable to ask for help. And that’s the time you might need to take a peek into their msn or their diary. Are you suggesting that once you get your kids to a certain age (maybe 14) that’s it? They’re no longer your responsibility? They sink or swim on their own? They’re done?

    Becky – I think most people would agree with your perspective. I don’t snoop as a matter of course. I’ve only done it a couple of times when I thought there was something not quite right going on. And I do ask first, but like I said to somebody else, kids don’t always tell you when something’s going on, no matter how good and open and honest your relationship is.

    Alison – Indeed!

  25. I love how spirited your comment section gets!

    I don’t need to defend my own views, because everyone’s family is different. We don’t lock (inside) doors here, and we are open with a lot of things, so I’m saying all of these things from a rather open base.

    I know I’ve already said my share, but I just wanted to add: I don’t think teens have a “right” to privacy so much as privacy is a “privilege.”

    There is a fine line, but there is a difference.

    If the lines of communication are always open and trust has been established early on, I really feel that you won’t have a major problem with your teen. If problems arise, it is not only my right, it it my duty to be on top of things. Of course, the first line of defense is to talk to your teen, but if that doesn’t work, privileges will be lost. Privacy will be breached. End of story.

    Because, as a parent, I’m legally responsible for not only the wellbeing of my child, but also for their actions (which could in turn, jeopardize someone else’s child).

    I’m the adult. I’m in charge. It doesn’t mean I don’t respect them…it means I do.

    XUP, I can’t wait to see what your next topic is!! 😉

  26. INTERESTING! I love this stuff, if no other reason that I don’t have kids/teens and this just helps make me realized the low level of stress in my life! 

    Sounds like Carly’s parents had more that a good lead as to warrant the digging and Carly is reaping what she sowed. Let’s see if she learns anything here… And as for her parents narcing on her to the school I say KUDOS TO YOU! It might seem a little harsh but it shows that while some things might slip under their radar when there is a *blip* they react to it and don’t pretend all is well…

    … I’m of two schools on this but fall more towards the heavy hand.

    On one side, I think ALL parents should remember when THEY were that age. What did THEY do? Did it matter what their parents said? Likely not. Chances are good that unless the parents themselves were the devil incarnate or jesus’ second coming that they themselves were somewhere in the huge grey zone in-between… And it’s highly likely too, so will their kids land in the grey zone. So raise them the best you can and hope that they will come to you if scared, confused or in trouble, or better yet consult you on issues where they are unsure BEFORE they act… not very likely but then open communication is KEY. And DNO’T try to be your kids best friend, sorry but that boat just won’t float. You’re only setting up for a Titanic disaster.

    On the other side, recalling your own past irrational and ill-conceived schemes and adventures may put more than a little fear of god in you and the thoughts that they could get hurt… so you will have a spanish inquisition of your own.

    As was mentioned prior, they live under your roof and ARE dependant to you… When they shriek and say they don’t need you, cut off their income (oops I mean allowance) while demanding they continue their chores (= room and board), cut their cell phones and internet and cable TV… Why should you be chucking all that cash away? and hey if they complain tell ‘em we’re in a recession and blame it all on Harper! * ) Stop feeding them YOUR food, washing their clothes and chauffeuring them about gratis. Aside from the food, none of these are NECESSITIES and if needed they can do without. When they realize that hell YES they are dependant on you. Then you can discuss what they have permission to do and where they can go etc…

    As far as what is and isn’t open for Parents eyes, I say this is where the lines are drawn. ANYHTING that goes out of the house via the internet should be under the parent’s jurisdiction, afterall the Net, and especially social networking sites like MySpace, FaceBook etc are public domain anyway. If the kids don’t want their business known, especially by their parents, don’t PUBLICALLY POST IT ON THE WEB!  And while on the subject I honestly do not believe kids-teens should have computers in their own rooms. There should be a PUBLIC computer in the house that they can use, and their time (and activity) limited and monitored.

    Don’t go snooping just for the sake of snooping. While you do have control and the right to do the checking, it’s a two way street, treat them with the respect and trust you want them to give you. Ultimately Parents should use their best judgment and be wise to their intuition. I’m sorry but if they have a gut feeling there’s something not kosher then they probably already know…

    Yes we need our kids and teens to make mistakes, but they MUST learn from these and mature. If parents coddle their kids protecting them from every bump, bruise (both physical and emotional) then these kids grow up to be adults entirely unprepared to live in the real world.

    In issues like this, just like with the food and drink we consume, the amount of time spent working and playing and resting; balance is the key. No one wants to live in a police state, but so too, rules are needed to keep things in control… Anarchy looks great as a symbol on the back of a leather jacket, but that’s where it ends.

    * Ok I know Harper did not cause the recession but it will make you feel good to blame him, I know it puts a smile on my face…

  27. Xup I wasn’t trying to suggest that the kids who act out are incorrigible and bound for the streets or the pen. I was trying to suggest that the basis for rebellion or respect between parents and children is established long before the child is capable of escaping supervision. To try to rein in a teen is like trying to ride the whirlwind. To arrive at teenagehood with understanding between parent and child is the result of decisions made 5 years earlier. I never told my parents all that was going on in my teen years but then I wasn’t getting into any really bad trouble either. I also knew by then that if I did need help they would provide it to the limit of their ability.
    Carly and her parents are in for a heap o trouble for the next few years. Here’s hoping they both survive it.

  28. This is a tough one and I think it probably depends on each kid. My mom was totally Snoopy McNosy when I was a teenager. She’d do a little snooping while “cleaning” my room, finding notes passed in class, cigarettes stuffed in the 8 Track player (yes, I’m that old, and yes, it made a great hiding place!). But she meant well. She just wanted to make sure I was safe and out of trouble. It made me so angry at the time, but I realize she had my best interest at heart.

    On the flip side, my youngest stepson lived with us and his dad is very much about allowing kids have their privacy. I believe that too—up to a point. When it became clear he was in trouble, I decided we needed to see what he was up to. I went through his room and found that my stepson was doing drugs. Meth to be specific. Until we searched, we weren’t sure.

    The bottom line is, parents know their kids. Even if you don’t know exactly what’s going on, you know something is up. Follow your gut.

  29. My computer, my electricity that runs the computer if the teen actually paid for it themself, my right to see what activity is going on there. I kept the computer in a very public place in the house. AND I walked by it and glanced over shoulders. AND I checked files and history.

    The girls were never an issue. My son’s downloading of girls too young to be filmed doing what they were doing? BIG ISSUE!

    And one very simple rule: you go to school and put in the effort, I will house and feed you. Therefore, I have the right to make sure you are going to school and making the effort. You aren’t abiding by that? Out you go. Son eventually had to go. It was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, but it was also the best thing I ever did.

    The only problem I see with Carly’s mom’s behaviour, is that she wasn’t paying attention all along and then had to go on a search and destroy mission.

  30. Interesting reading. The Boy is still too young for this. But I can see these issues arising.

    As a parent I think we owe to our kids to keep them safe from harm. In my book, teens are still kids. So this is the guiding principle.

    We want to encourage them to make good decisions. Sometimes though our best intentions are twarted. It doesn’t take much for kids to take a turn down a wrong path. As a friend of mine found out when son flunked most of Grade 10 and was dealing drugs on the side. She’s a good caring mom, always been there for her sons. But denial is a powerful thing.

    I guess it’s a balancing act. We are encouraging dialogue, I want The Boy to feel he can come to us with issues and concerns. But he may get lost in the angst, and confusion that are the teen years. (I did.)

    There may well come a point when I need to go through The Boy’s things if I am worried about his safety and well-being. If I suspect that he is hurting himself (either with suicidal thoughts, addiction, etc. etc.) While I willgive him space and room to discuss it with us. I feel it is my duty as a parent to take drastic steps to intervene if he’s struggling.

  31. CP – Good points. This thinking that if a parent does his/her job correctly the kid will turn out fine is perhaps a bit skewed. You’re not the first one to mention it and that is certainly everyone’s fervent hope and desire, but it’s not always reality. There are so many influences in a young person’s life and so many variables in their innate character that often kids get themselves into things that even the best parenting couldn’t have prevented. But you’re right — it IS a parent’s duty and responsibility to keep parenting forever… the degree and specific duties just change as they get older.

    Kitty – I’ve always tried to err on the side of over-cautious, but we negotiate as we go along. I’m not her jailer and I’m not trying to be her best friend either. Everything is open for discussion…sometimes the discussion is very short, sometimes it goes on for weeks. I would never withhold food or essentials. Punishment sometimes consists of being grounded off the internet for a while. And, in theory, I’m a great believer in learning from one’s mistakes, but in reality I don’t like to see her hurt so I try to get her to learn from my mistakes or try to prevent her from making the same mistakes. It doesn’t always work. And, by the way, for whatever degree of stress kids cause you they give back much much more joy…so far anyway. And, yes, I blame Harper for everything.

    Bandobras – “to rein in a teen is like trying to ride the whirlwind” — very poetic. And yes, we establish a foundation with our kids as they’re growing up, but as I said to CP above, a lot can happen to a kid along the way that can take them off the path you’ve set them on no matter how fabulous your parenting skills are. And vice versa — some amazing people have come out of insanely horrible families. Nature? Nurture?

    Violetsky – Yes, I’m astonished how interested people are in getting into such a heavy discussion at this time of year and after all the other heaviness that has gone on and is still going on at the moment

    Mo – You lost me at “my mom cleaned my room”. I wouldn’t even know where to begin. I used to love snooping in my brothers’ rooms, they always had the coolest top secret stuff which I could blackmail them with for all eternity

    UP – Yes, we were all quite astonished at how oblivious Carly’s mom was until now. In her defence, she was very young when she had Carly and has quite a lot on her plate these days. And holy crap, you’re a tough mom

    Nat- Exactly. You’ve summed the whole thing up very nicely — a balance between letting them go and keeping a close eye on them as they’re going. It’s surprising to me how many parents have stopped parenting their teens just when they need parents the most

  32. Yes, exactly. I am curious about those other 361 reasons for Debra and especially the 567 reasons Jazz has…

    Now am going back to taking pretty pictures.

  33. Well – being the (young) father of 3 girls – one of whom is already a teenager (15) and the other two are 9 and 7, I’ve already more experience in this area than I’d care to admit…

    As we had the oldest when we were pretty young, we struggled somewhat, the family lacked structure and she was able to get away with more than probably should have… We moved a few times through some of her formative years, first the U.S (5 years), then Germany (2 years, and no – not military). In Germany, the oldest had full access to the trams/buses and we encouraged her to explore, but I think she ran into a case of ‘too much too young’ like the Specials song… and it all came to a head.

    She was sneaking out, getting calls/meetings from school, there was drinking involved, going to clubs, smoking, you name it… I had to track her down a few nights to bring her home – and even once to the hospital (alcohol poisoning) after I located her at a friends house – completely out of it…

    We were extremely concerned about her, so we had to go from being a little lenient, to heavy handed quite quickly. She had completely lost our trust, and we let her know in no uncertain terms that she was going to have to regain that trust. This took time and effort on our part – so don’t think you can be strict and not be prepared to back it up. We were also concerned about her running away or worse…so we basically had her on house arrest for some time. We drove her to school, picked her up afterwards. No phone. No internet. I even took the door off her room at one point to stop her from sneaking out at night – and this was a 10 foot high, 4 wide door! Then gradually began to give her opportunities to earn back our trust. It was a long term activity – but she is miles better today.

    I think to add to that… our return to Canada has been a huge help – adding more stability and structure to our life. She has a job now and other activities to keep her busy. She still heads out via public transportation, but is very good at checking-in with us, and being home on time.
    btw – saw someone else say, talk to other parents with sleepovers – make sure they call from the home phone – not a cell phone… that way you know they are where they say they are.

    We’ve been able to trust more – and we don’t go digging for dirt. They all have to make their own mistakes, as we had to… (young parents – hoping history doesn’t repeat itself!) but they have to know that we’ll be there to back them up and support them – even if they know they’ll get in trouble. Keep talking to them – so much better than snooping. Even if they won’t tell you they’re doing things they shouldn’t be doing – you should have an idea if they’re in trouble or not – if you know them well enough. They’re not going to trust you if you’re constantly digging through their things. It goes both ways.

    I’ve already changed the way we handle the other two younger girls, ensuring they’re busy, being very clear about the rules and just in general – being more involved in their lives, so that when they turn fourteen I don’t find myself wondering who they are…

    I don’t think you can adopt a ‘one size fits all’ approach and have it work for all kids – you have to adjust for each, but put the building blocks in place, be firm, make sure they understand your (reasonable!) rules – and hope it turns out ok!

    It’s not easy being a parent – but I love being their dad, and would not be where I am without them.

  34. Violetsky – Me too!

    Dad of 3 girls – Thank you so much for visiting the blog and contributing your very unique perspective on the situation. It certainly proves that it’s never too late to change things up in the way you parent. Trial and error — if something’s not working, fix it! And you’re so right that you can’t have a simple one-size fits all. Some kids need more monitoring, some less and there are so many variables to take into consieration — environment, friends, activities, the child his or herself. It sounds like you’ve had some tough decisions to make, but you’ve met the challenges admirably. That poor 15-year-old has been through an awful lot for her young age and so have you and her mother. It must have been a nightmare at the time, but I’m glad everyone has come to a place where they’re comfortable again. It’s a non-stop 24/7 job, for sure and you can’t slack off even for a short time. And you’re so right — no matter how much trouble they cause or get into, it’s still a rewarding job being a dad or a mom. Thanks again for your comment and I hope you’ll visit again soon!

  35. I say the amount of trust there is ‘tween parent and child , no matter the age of the child, determines the amount of privacy one gets to oneself.

    Also,the young’uns decision making must be honest, logical and beneficial to all concerned, in order to build the trust.

    Otherwise, I am like you, they will not leave my sight, my presence, or the knowledge of their whereabouts, (if ever) or at least as little as humanly possible. They might as well expect to be shackled !

  36. My Mom may be reading this blog comment right now!

    Actually, my Todd and I were just talking about this. He was a latch-key kid who stayed out of trouble, but still skipped school, drank, frolicked with the ladies, and bent his parents rules often with pretty much no punishment expect “Don’t do that.” Further back in in youth, he was not allowed to have toy guns, but he was old enough to walk to the corner store with his allowance, buy toy guns, and stash them at his friends’ homes.

    I was a latch key kid who was so straight laced and afraid of being bad and ruining my life that I probably missed out on some fun. My parents were super lucky- they also worked so much that they did not know my friends or their parents and I was home alone so much that I could have had a weekly opium den in the basement and they would never had known. Although, my parents did clearly express that they trusted me and respected me to take on responsibility (for example I had their credit card with my name on it so that I could do shopping for myself and them), and I dug that.

    We discussed how we valued making our own choices, how we felt in many ways we earned our independence, and that when we were given rules or punished it just made us want to bend the rules more, made us respect our parents less. I told Todd that if I have kids I hope to know their parents and who they hang out with. If I had been bad, my parents would not have even had that to go on!

  37. i played my mom like a fiddle when i was young so i will be no fool when it comes to speedy.

    i say as long as they are living in the same roof, you have every right to be in her business. you brought her in this world.. youre the boss. you can take her out.. or beat her .. or something LOL

  38. Hunter – Hey ..long time no see! What you say is true – it’s a case by case issue. If your child has never given you a reason to mistrust him or her, they can expect privacy. If not, all’s fair in an effort to keep them safe and out of trouble.

    Missy – So you’re thinking in order to get our kids to respect us we should have no rules or punishments? I think the way you and Todd were raised was kind of neglectful. I doesn’t seem to have harmed either of you, but I don’t think many kids could keep it together without any sort of parental guidance or supervision. Both of you and all your parents were very lucky, I’d say.

    Jobthingy – Ha ha (I’m laughing because I’m pretty sure you’re kidding… right?) But, ya kids of parents who were devious little monsters when they were young, have it tough. I, too, know quite a few tricks and ploys myself, so it would be hard for mine to get away with too much.

    Lebowski – Having kids can definitely be a challenge at times, but most of the time it’s pretty damn good. But to each his own.

  39. I hear stories like this and seriously, I just want to sit in a corner and cry silently. I don’t look forward to the days that lie ahead. I know how teenage girls are – I was one!

    That said, my husband believes in the following policy: openess on all fronts. We can read their messages/go through their rooms and they can read our messages/go through our rooms. I’m really not sure that will work. My parents didn’t have a computer, but I highly doubt I’d have given two hoots about anything they had written on there.

  40. wow. i hope that the mother of this girl is capable of helping her, or getting help b/c the girl is screaming (i need help!) but without those direct words.

    i have personal experience with this and now that i’m on the other side of it, i’m still not sure how to answer should you or shouldn’t you? i think factors like can you trust the child, has the child been in trouble, etc.

    we were advised by law enforcement to go through everything, and we did and it was painful.

  41. Kimberly- I don’t think it has to be a 2-way street like that. You’re the parents, the grown-ups. There may be times when you need to go through their stuff, but there’s never a reason for them to go through yours (unless you’re dead and they need to find the insurance papers). And you’re right, my daughter never reads my blog — it’s right there, easily accessed, but she’s never even curious. Afterall, what could a boring old fart like me possibly have to say that would be of interest to her? If only she knew….mwah ha ha

    DP – I think you’re right. Carly had a lot of freedom (too much in my opinion) and I think all this acting out is a demand for some sort of boundary. Freedom sounds good in theory, but imagine if you were suddenly told you could do anything you wanted to and given all the money in the world with which to do it and there would never be any consequences. Some people might be grounded enough to set their own boundaries, but most people I think would go right off the rails — look what happens when people win big in a lottery.

  42. There seem to be a lot of parents posting in the comments, and I think it’s time for a different perspective. I’m eighteen, have lived in my parents houses up until this September, when I moved to Halifax to live in residence and go to University. Just so you know what perspective I’m coming from.

    There’s a distinct difference between boundaries and privacy. If I found out that my mother went through my MSN/Text Messages/Phone Messages/etc, I would freak. Yes, we’re minors, yes, we live under our parents’ roofs, yes, we owe them honesty, and yes, they have a right to know what’s going on in our lives.

    But ultimately, snooping leads to a damaged, poisoned relationship. If you have to snoop through your daughter’s e-mails to find out she’s had sexual intercourse, there is something fundamentally wrong with your relationship, and it needs work.

    My advice to parents, having gone through a phase wilder than most, and have a very healthy relationship with my mother, is to make sure that you stress the importance of honesty. Make sure that you can have adult conversations – there is nothing more annoying to a sixteen year old who thinks they know everything (because, to them, they know all they need to know) than to be talked to as a child. If you end up finding something in their rooms, or accidentally over-hear something that disturbs you, you should have an honest, adult conversation with them.

    Essentially what I’m saying is this: snooping is wrong, and has extremely negative consequences, far beyond whatever trouble your kid is getting into.

  43. Davis – Thank you very much for your perspective. There was one other young person/non-parent who commented here, too and I think had similarly sensible advice. I think most parents would agree with that. I do. I wouldn’t snoop through my daughter’s stuff just for the heck of it. If she seemed to be in some sort of trouble and if, after talking to her I get the feeling she is unable to tell me something which would worry me even more, only then would I try to find a clue elsewhere. There have only been a couple of times when that happened and both times I think we averted something that would have escalated had I not intervened. Thanks again and please pop in again some time.

  44. Pingback: De la viña ajena [semana 50 de 2008] | Los Ziegler en Canada

  45. I just popped back to this one. I love how you respond to everyone!

    I did not mean to defend my parents style, I think they were damn lucky I was not getting myself into all sorts of trouble. And Todd’s parents, well, they are lucky he did not get into more mischief than he did! So passive, too passive.

    Reading back I do not think I made a point! Poor response, done while I was doing two things at once. sigh. Thanks for reading it anyway!

    I think where I was going was: Todd and I had been discussing what we would do differently and so far we had knowing friends and their parents whenever possible- to not let our child frolic off without me being engaged, unlike our parents, who were not engaged. Maybe that was my point? That parents should be engaged in their pre-teen’s life and the pre-teen earns freedoms like more privacy by behaving well and respecting boundaries and rules.

    I certainly do not know the best way to parent a teen, or any child for that matter. I mean, our cat is terribly spoiled!

    Bigger sigh!

  46. I have had some experience in this lately, from the other end of the stick. My mom has caught me on some things I lied about, but mostly so far I have been getting away with things.

    The more you restrict teenagers, the more they will rebel, regardless of if you will find out or what the consequences will be. The more you are “cool with” the things they do, the more they will tell you. It depends if your priorities lie in knowing what they do or preventing “bad” doings. The more you talk with them, the more likely they will not do it out of communication and a little more common sense. The only reason they do not inform you, is because they don’t want to be in trouble, they don’t want you to prevent them from doing as they wish. If the most you punish them is talking with them, they are more apt to tell you than if the punishment is shackles.

    Snooping… and here’s where the teenager part of me unleashes.. I would kill my parents if they put my privacy at risk like that. I would be so pissed that I would never EVER tell them anything. I would feel as if whatever I do they will have problems with so I might as well do the worst, might as well make them regret ever snooping and finding out things they did not want to know. And that’s not what we want… you need communication with your child, and if they get away with things under that emotional radar, then kudos to them. It’s a two way street… parents regard themselves as the law, and when they realize the law is not being enforced in an effective way they go tyrannic on your ass. That leads to overthrow…more crime…and if you do manage to break their spirit, you have a bitter, drone of a child, even moreso than before.

    So the answer to your question? Snoop all you like until you find something slightly offsetting. Allude to knowing it and have them confess, tell them it’s OK, and then stop snooping. Just stop.

  47. Missy – I think you learn to parent your teen by first parenting your infant and then your toddler, your child and your pre-teen. If you’ve been engaged all along, you’ll know what to do when your child hits the teens. And each child really is different and needs different things. Thanks for coming back and clearing that up.

    Aziza – Sigh… Interesting perspective because I think you’re about my daughter’s age. Her friend, Carly’s mom is VERY cool. She’s the coolest mom around because she’s very young and dresses and looks very much like a teenager herself. All the kids think she’s awesome. She gave Carly freedom and respect — her own private space in the basement. Carly has the best bedroom EVER. She has the whole downstairs of the house with a couple of beds and a sofa and a big TV, her own computer and a little fridge of her own. It was a great place to hang out — she could have anyone over anytime. She could go wherever she wanted. Her mom never checked up on her In fact, she was the only mom who wouldn’t call if their kid was sleeping over at our house. Sooooo Carly’s mom was totally freaked out to find out that Carly had been abusing her freedom and privileges like that. She’s feeling like the worst mom in the world for not being in Carly’s business more thoroughly and constantly. I remember what it was like being 15, 16, 17. There’s a lot of important stuff going on in your life — stuff you don’t want your parents involved in or knowing about. But now that I’m waaaaaaay older than 15,16,17 and have a child, I also realize that there’s a lot of important stuff going on in her life. Some of that stuff is so important that she might not be ready to cope with it even though she thinks she is. I want her to learn to cope with all the important stuff in her life, but I also want to have her back in case she gets into trouble. That’s what a parent is for. And I’ll only know if she’s in trouble if I keep an eye on her – not shackles, not random snooping — just conversation, making sure I know where she is and who she’s with, setting some limits and boundaries. And, if I feel something’s wrong and she’s not talking, I may have to take it further and investigate. It’s not an adversarial thing — parents/teens. We love our children so damn much and want the best stuff in the world for them. We don’t want to tie them to us forever — we want them to make good lives for themselves. But we will always feel an instinct to protect them from hurt and trouble. That will never go away whether they’re teens or adults or senior citizens.

  48. We are raising three grandsons who were abused by their mother and step-father. We were given the oldest one. His mother said he was dangerous to the other children. What he was is dangerous to her. He was getting fed up with what was going on. He is 22 now, the next is 19 and the youngest 16.

    We told them, when they moved in that we would never go through their rooms, diaries, whatever UNLESS we suspected they had drugs or weapons in their room. Then, all bets to privacy were off.

    The only dialup hook up is in the dining room, so they knew that we were keeping an eye on that. We talked about the pitfalls and I know there were a lot of playboy type searching but I figured, when I was young, boys hid their magazines, so we discussed what was appropriate and the “you know that women don’t really look like that” and they seem to have a good handle on real women. (Boy, that’s a leading sentence)

    Since they see a clinical psychologist, the middle boy keeps diaries. We have never opened or touched that, however, we did make him open his locked chest, etc when he took alcohol to school. Turns out he was not drinking it, but was stupid about knowing when other kids are conning him. This is a drawback of homeschooling for him.

    He has gotten in every little trouble you can think of, but we have not had to search his room. He knows we will do that though and that’s a biggie. Sticking to your word.

    We talk to them constantly. First rule of the house is, no matter why, if you are somewhere and need a ride home because you are drunk, your friend is drunk, someone is doing something you don’t like, the party is getting wild, you are to call us to pick you up, any time day or night, and we will not say a word that night. We will not yell at you the next day, but we will sit down and talk about it and what needs to be done about it, but the most important thing is their safety. We have gotten some late night calls.

    It’s been rough, with kids who have never been out in the real world before. Who were homeschooled, home churched and beaten and locked in closets. Their is a whole world out there and each of them have handled it differently.

    The middle boy has tried it all and admitted it. The second time he got in trouble, again protecting someone else, the principal just shook his head. This is an A- student. But, he’s stupid about people. He has tried pot, alcohol, and cigarettes but he has told us and we did not jump down his throat. We did discuss it with him and ground him and laid out guidelines. He was given, by his step-father alcohol and chewing tobacco, so tobacco has been a problem for him, and he went to cigarettes but has now stopped, after patches and gum, and all kinds of help.

  49. wonderful words, xup. Cool parents are an interesting breed… I have a friend who’s parents are literally hippies and live up to their label. Her house is a very fun place to go if i want to have safe rule breaking.

    Important stuff, yes. Everything that happens is important at her age, it determines how she will deal with similar situations (which there are no doubt going to be) later on in her life.

    Parenting will be pretty nerve racking later on, I’m not going to lie.