Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Privacy: the state of being free from intrusion or disturbance in one's private life or affairs: the right to privacy.



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.

13 comments:

Meadowlark said...

Good food for thought. :)

Mine are 22 & 24 now. When they were younger I always told them they had privacy unless they began to make dangerous choices and then all bets were off. They still think that was a fair deal.

And as far as the cleanliness of their rooms? As long as there was a "fire trail" (a path to the door) it wasn't my problem. No food in their rooms, but messy? Not my issue... that worked well.

:)

Pam said...

I'm so happy to read this today. My girls are both teens, and like you, I respect their privacy. I've never been tempted to snoop their things. I hope that this will pay off in the future, they way it has with you and your children.

LC said...

Words of wisdom. Great post!

Eva Gallant said...

I respected my sons' privacy, also. They are now grown with children of their own and I hope are doing the same.

bettyl said...

I am all for privacy, but like you said, if they have suspicious behavior, they should probably not be trusted to make good decisions.

That's why they have parents--to help them make good decisions.

Louise said...

Nice post. I don't think my mother ever snooped, and I'll try not to when my kids get old enough to have secrets. But I can see that if I was terribly worried that they were getting into something they couldn't handle, I'd be tempted...Greetings from Italy via BPOTW.

hummer said...

Wonderful thoughts from a wonderful mother.

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

Yes, I agree. My mother read my diary. Mind you, I had absolutely nothing to hide, but it was an intrusion anyway, and I was very hurt. We never snooped on my stepdaughter, and she lived up to the trust.

SOULBLOGGER said...

i am 20 and along with my brother 18 we are to brothers who live in an orthodox family
just a few days ago my dad read my brothers inbox and bashed him for some of the messages send by one of his friends
parents really need to understand this privacy thing but believe me very few do .

Ronnica said...

We had an open-door policy in our house, and it wasn't a problem for me. Really the only thing that I wanted to keep private was my journal. I will never read my daughter's journal unless I think it's absolutely necessary, and then I'll read it with her.

Brenda said...

I think those of us who don't snoop probably don't manipulate either. Snoopers are often manipulators or worriers who think they can fix someones problem. You just have to let people be.

Visiting from BPOTW

Anita said...

Well said. My mother never snooped, but I'm sure there were times she wanted too...lol. My two girls are as different as night and day, one shares, one is more private. I try to respect their personalities, and I'm open to them being themselves and a bit imperfect at times, as we all are.

2busy said...

This is really great advice. I am the parent of an 18, 17 and 12 year old. I am trying to incorporate this parenting style....