Giving Kids Privacy, How Much is too Much

This post is an extension of my thoughts after reading Mail4Rosey: There’s a Fine Line blog post.

Giving your child privacy, what level is okay

Growing up I felt that I didn’t have much privacy, if any at all. I wasn’t allowed to have my door shut very often, I wasn’t allowed to have privacy on the phone, I basically felt as if I wasn’t ever allowed to think for myself and develop my own thoughts about who I am and what I want to be. I felt sheltered, too crowded and given too many expectations of who I should become and how I should behave. With that being said, I turned out just fine, sure there were some heavy bumps and road blocks along the path to adult hood, but I made it and am here today writing about children and privacy from a parents perspective.

I honestly think that no matter how much privacy you give your child, they will always seem to think that you do not give them enough. I am thankful more often than not that my oldest doesn’t seem to feel that way, however, I worked hard to be proactive in what type of boundaries I would set in my parental world to ensure that 1) my daughter and I would have respect for each other and 2) we would be close enough so that privacy wouldn’t really be a monumental issue as she grew older. Not all parents will have a child who feels that the privacy levels, if any set, are sufficient.

Personally I feel that you should give your child space to have privacy, a child needs to learn to think and make some decisions on their own. Setting boundaries between you and your child in regards to phone calls, journals, bedroom doors, going out with friends, being on the Internet and so forth, is really all about being consistent and upfront. Let your child know that they can have privacy and they will have privacy, however, at the end of the day YOU ARE THE PARENT and THEY ARE THE CHILD, this means that their privacy can be revoked at ANY GIVEN TIME if their behavior, attitude or any other similar situation arises that deems it necessary to snoop {the term most use for breaking privacy}.

My daughter understands that she can grab the house phone, text from her cell phone and surf the internet playing her games without me sitting over her shoulder 24/7 monitoring her every move and every word made. My daughter also knows that I respect her privacy with “girl talk”, that means when she has a sleep over, I don’t need to know every single little conversation that goes on privately with her girlfriends. It’s none of my business when it comes to the typical tween girl talk about school, boys and make up or whatever. It is my business when that conversation goes into topics that are just inappropriate; sex, drugs, alcohol, you know things like that.

Maybe because I have a really close relationship with my daughter where we can effectively communicate any concerns, issues and scares no matter what – it can be regarding me, my parenting style, a parenting decision I made or something as small as the latest tween drama at school. My daughter knows and trusts in me to 1) speak to her at a level, respectful tone in response to her feelings and 2) treat her as an individual, even if she is a child, she is still her own individual person.

Have there been times, as a parent, I want to snoop around and read her journal? Yes. Would I do that without telling her? No. At this time in her life there isn’t any red flags in her tween world regarding her friends, school and home life here that make me feel it necessary to break that trust we have worked hard to maintain. I honestly think that it depends on the parent and the child as to how much privacy you give in your household.

The decision to give a child various levels of privacy is dependent upon a few key scenarios:

  • What levels you are comfortable with as a parent; you are the parent to your child, it’s all about what your comfortable with.
  • How your child’s behavior is in general; are they a communicative, trusting child to begin with that normally makes good decisions?
  • How large your family is; the bigger the family, quite possibly, the less room you have for privacy.
  • What type of relationship you have with your child; if you have raised your child proactively to build a strong bond then giving more privacy would seem reasonable for you.
  • Are you willing to let your child make mistakes; part of maturing is learning from our mistakes, are you the parent who is willing to give some privacy in order to allow your child to make mistakes and learn from them while you are still guiding them.

There is a lot to think about when you are seeking to formulate a decision on what level of privacy you will give your children. I am curious what you all give your own children for privacy? What type of boundaries have been set in your household to encourage trust and privacy?


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1 Comment

  1. My privacy when I was growing up was nil so I’m pretty liberal. I have zero qualms stepping in when I feel it’s needed to say something’s not appropriate, but there’s a healthy balance going on. I think privacy and respect go hand in hand, and unless there’s a reason to step in (and there sometimes are, that’s our job and we do it when we need to) I keep things pretty mild in the house.

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