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Teenagers and Privacy


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A good parent doesn't just teach their kids right and wrong, good and bad, or health and fitness. A good parent also teaches them respect for other people. And teaching your children to respect other people, requires that you respect your children too.

When children become adolescents, a natural part of growing up, is to seek greater separateness, distance and independence from their parents. Ironically, this is also the time when parents have the biggest concerns about their child's safety as they venture out into the world on their own.

Teenage years are a difficult time for most parents. You may find yourself frustrated because your child is no longer as close as they once were, but you may also be unable to resist the desire to keep pushing to know more about what going on in your child's life. It's a catch-22 scenario; you can not be close as you want, yet you feel that you need to be close in order to keep them safe. It can be tricky to balance your desire to know all the details, with your son or daughter's right for privacy, and the respect that is implied when you acknowledge that right.

The first thing to realize is that being a nosy parent won't help - it will simply drive your kids underground. And that is the exact opposite result of what successful parents are looking for. Spend some hard-thinking time considering what privacy means in your own life. Think about how you like to be respected, both as an adult today, and how you wish your parents had treated you when you were a child. In short, try to look at things from your child's point of view: respect your child and respect their privacy.

- Do not go digging through your teenager's belongings

- Never try to listen in on conversations

- Don't try to keep your kids away from friends

- Think very carefully before trying to restrict any of your kid's activities

Why is privacy important for teenagers? It's natural part of growing-up to want to have more psychological and physical space from parents. Teenagers want to have private conversations with their friends that their parents do not hear. Teenagers want to able to have time by themselves, and to think about things in their own ways. They want to be able to keep a private journal without worrying whether their parents will sneak in and read it. They want their own room and their own space, even if you consider it untidy and messy. They want to be able to shut the door and have time alone, when they feel like it.

Of course, when you put your nosiness behind you, it doesn't mean you should abandon your common sense – you can still be cautious and watchful. Just be careful not to drive your kids away from you.

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