When I was a teenager there wasn't anything I valued more and protected more than my privacy. And I was blessed to have a mother and father who respected not only mine but the privacy of my three brothers as well.
When do we parents overstep those bounds? When does 'concern' become 'invasion'? I had friends...my daughter had friends...whose mothers felt it was their right to snoop thru drawers and closets, between the mattress and box springs, under beds, in pockets and purses. My mother never did that to me and I never did that to my daughter -- or my son. Some aspects of our lives really do belong to us as individuals, even when we're 10 or 15 or 18. How do we teach them to trust when we don't respect their privacy?
I was not and still am not a perfect parent. My two children are both in their early 30's now. I've made mistakes and I've admitted to them and apologized for them. But I don't think either one of them will tell you that I've ever pried in to their personal business. As teenagers, when their bedrooms became impossibly messy, I always asked and was given permission to go in and straighten things up. I never looked at anything. Seriously. My mission was to clean and that's what I did. I practiced the same respect for privacy when I cleaned people's houses, too. You shuffle papers together in a neat stack, keep your eyes averted, and set them down when you're done. Whatever is private is private. When my son got married I had a talk with my daughter-in-law and told her I would never pry, that he was hers now and I was 'handing him over'. And I meant it. And I have. He is my son but he is her husband.
I reap what I've sown, too. Do they come and talk to me, seek my advice at times? Yes. Do they sometimes confide? Yes.
I guess what I'm trying to say to some of you younger mothers who are in the middle of mothering preteens and teens is: How you treat them now is going to be the foundation your adult relationship with them is based upon. They do grow up. And if you're really blessed and lucky, they evolve into some very special friends in your life, not just your kids. You have to trust them; they need to know they can trust you.