There comes a time in every parent and teen relationship where the line between sending them to their room and wanting to know what is going on in there are bound to cross. You may want their bad attitude and sassy lip to be out of your presence for a while. However, most parents will usually agree that teens and closed doors are not always a good thing.
Finding the balance between being a good parent and giving your teen a measure of privacy can be difficult. Teens need privacy to learn responsible behavior when left to their own devices. Too much of this alone time for many teens results in more problems than the average parent can handle. How to find the right mix of parenting and privacy is tricky.
As a parent, it is important to realize that privacy is a privilege and not a right for teens. Privacy is like driving a car. The teen must learn the rules and consistently obey them or privacy goes away for a while. Most teens seem to figure this out without a lot of prodding from parents. For those parents whose children abuse their private time, the nightmare of fights and social issues can seem endless.
Parents can reward teens for good behavior by granting them the power to determine their own schedules as long as the parent is informed. If the teen continues to demonstrate the ability to have self-control and maturity, more privacy can be given. If the trust is betrayed, private time must be removed for a period. Set the rules from the beginning and let the teen know the length of the punishment when it is assigned. This way, the teen will have a goal to maintain good behavior during this time or know that it will be extended.
Even closing their bedroom door when friends visit should be restricted. This is based on how well you know the visitors and how your child has been behaving. If your teen insists on shutting the door when you have said no, remove it and store it until he or she has established a maturity level that deserves the privacy of a door. This may seem harsh to some, but some teens simply will not cooperate until it becomes obvious that they cannot win.
Teens will threaten parents at times with running away or reporting them to Family Services. These teens need to know that such behavior (even the threats) is not appropriate. This is assuming that there is no sexual or physical abuse being inflicted by the parent. You simply have to explain to the teen what the consequences of running away or report you will be. Law enforcement and Family Services do not have very much flexibility. They will often remove the child from the parents.
Depending on the state and the severity of the charge, the teen could end up in foster care until high school is over. This means a risk of being placed with families that will not treat them like family, but like customers or slaves. The second option is that the teen will be placed in a juvenile home under lock and key like a prisoner. Most teens will not find either option too appealing. Both of these potential outcomes will guarantee a near zero privacy arrangement for the teen.
As a general rule, teens who demand privacy loud and long are looking for opportunities to engage in unsuitable activities. Wise parents will monitor this closely. If privacy is granted, the parent is obligated to build in measures to allow for checking on the integrity of the teen regularly during this time. If all goes well, give a sigh of relief and get ready to do it again next time.
A teen’s right to privacy ends when the parent’s right to inspect is rejected. If a teen is doing something that he or she wants hidden, the parent should assume that trouble is on the horizon. However, since people do better when they are watched, it is a good idea for parents to build in additional eyes and ears in the community to give them reports on what their child is doing.
This way, the teen will not know the inspecting is happening. The teen will be happy believing that he or she is functioning privately with parents. The parents can feel a measure of comfort knowing that if the teen goes in a wrong direction, they will be informed. Unless the teen steps out of bounds, everyone is thrilled.