Parenting: How Much Privacy Should I Afford my Teenager?

As children enter young adulthood, one of their most significant interests will become their personal privacy. They crave time and space to themselves without the interference of their parents. Regrettably, this doesn’t always lead to the most wholesome behavior; these days, internet security is a hot button issue for this reason. Cyber-bullying is one of the most common issues surrounding negative online activity, and one that rarely goes reported to the proper authorities.

Two Common Mistakes Parents Make

There are two common mistakes that parents tend to make when it comes to the privacy of their teens: abandonment and overprotection. Abandonment occurs when the child is allowed far too much freedom far too early in their development, and they don’t receive lessons in internet safety. Overprotection can be just as damaging, and occurs when the parent can’t let go of control over their child, which often leads to rebellion and doesn’t allow the child to develop proper judgment skills on their own. Both of these mistakes can be avoided with some simple guidelines.

Deciding on the Right Amount of Leniency

Most parents find it easiest to start by simply observing the child’s behavior; how have they acted over the most recent few years? Children who have generally made good decisions on their own are less likely to begin straying down a dangerous path on their own. However, it is always important to remain alert and determine if issues arise that need some parental intervention.

Some children, on the other hand, develop different scales of judgment, and may need a little extra supervision (without being overbearing of course!) Children that tend to enjoy staying out late or making sketchy plans with unspecific groups of individuals may need more strict boundaries. In some cases, especially where withdrawal from social functions or falling grades begins to occur, parents should address these issues with their child. While this may seem like an invasion of privacy, the child’s health is the most important concern. Poor discipline can have disastrous effects early on, and often leads to a cycle that can become impossible to break.

Communicate Effectively with Your Teenager

With time, as the teen develops their own moral compass, parents can relax the restraints and allow their child more freedoms. It’s important to discuss these issues openly with teenagers; often they will understand your actions and behaviors if the situation is fully explained to them. As always, remain as open and honest with your child; good communication is key!

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