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.
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?