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Snooping around Your Teen's Stuff

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Eva Maria
Eva Maria
Photo credits: The Times of India

I remember the very first Parenting Teens article I ever read. This was around the time when I was writing my first book ‘You Shut Up!’ that was giving parents a true insight into the world of teenagers of the 21st century, and after reading many existing parenting books, this article seemed to push me over the edge to get the book out there as soon as possible to help people find out about the teen perspective. Perhaps I was coming at it from a highly emotional place, and it was a statement I could not believe was being published as sincere, proven methods of parenting teens.

Among other tips, the one that screamed out ‘No! Wrong!’ was stated as ‘Snoop around your teenager’s room when they’re away’.

How could a person in their right mind EVER come up with such a suggestion to parents out there who may already be facing many issues with their already emotional teenager?

Here’s my take on it:

You as a parent always have their best interests at heart, and obviously, would have, and are still parenting in a way to keep them safe. Keeping them safe also means you must trust their decisions they make sometimes – for the good or bad, they do learn from mistakes…even if it’s for the 64th time. But they learn! Snooping is an un-necessary practice, if you’ve parented them in the best way possible (which you would have, being a parent). If you find the need to snoop, are you declaring defeat? Are you trying to say that you raised them to be human beings who cannot be trusted?

A teenager’s diary, room, or bag is a sacred thing. Their entire life is contained within these few (or perhaps many) things. If you are in a trusted relationship with your teen, is there things you cannot talk to them about? If you are concerned why not strike a conversation with them.

Snooping is a bad idea. First of all, if found (and you will get found – how else would you know about some particular event in their life that they have no disclosed to you?), you are ultimately teaching them that snooping is the right way to parent.

Secondly, your sources or conclusion may not be correct. A found lighter in a teenager’s room may not necessarily mean they are smoking on a crack pipe between classes at school. Seriously.

Thirdly you’ll be breeding a really good liar. I mean, what would you do? Say you find a packet of cigarettes in your 16 year old’s drawer in their bedroom. You confront them, they get angry for your snooping, a yelling match follows and you send them to their room, or they leave through the front door, slamming it in your face – whatever comes first. What is the lesson learned? Hide the cigarettes better next time, because forced talking from mis-trust won’t work. And then, unfortunately, this will stem into other areas of their life. Bad move.

But you know, maybe something good COULD come out of it. What do you think? Have you had a good experience with snooping around your teen’s stuff?

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