19 Jun
To Snoop or Not To Snoop?

Dear TMH,

The other day, my 12 year old daughter was upset and wouldn’t tell me what was bothering her. Later that night, I saw her writing away in her diary. Do I read it? I know that privacy is important, but as her mother, shouldn’t I know if something’s wrong?

Signed,

Should I Take a Peek?

______________________________________________

Dear Should I Take a Peek?,

The answer is no. Respecting a child’s privacy is incredibly important and in doing so, you’ll teach her to respect the privacy of others. Hey are you listening to me? Please stop reading that diary. I’m trying to teach you something important here about respecting your child.

Trying not to read your daughter’s diary will take a lot of self control. Take it from someone who never hesitated to comb through my boyfriend’s apartment, the moment he left for work. And when I say “boyfriend,” I mean, random guy I’d been dating a couple weeks.

Of course, I’d find a bunch of snapshots of him with some super cute girl with shiny, bouncy hair and I’d be seething about the details of their relationship. But I couldn’t talk to him about the chick because how do casually bring up, “So I was ransacking your apartment the other day, sifting through all your personal pictures and I’m just wondering who the hell is the whore with the awesome hair?”

So my point is – it would be better to not read the diary. Instead, give your daughter a couple days and then approach her again and ask, “Honey, what were you so upset about the other day?” Maybe she’ll be more ready to open up.

But in the end, you need to trust your own instincts. If you feel like something is really bothering your daughter and she could be in trouble, then maybe it’s worth violating her privacy to find out. Just realize, that if she discovers that you read her journal, she might just invest in one with a lock.

Good luck.

Love,

Kelcey, TMH

13 Responses to “To Snoop or Not To Snoop?”

06.19.09#1

Comment by wendi.

And if you DO happen to sneak a peek at her diary, make sure you haven’t been eating chocolate beforehand because you may leave incriminating fingerprints. I don’t want to say how I know this…

06.19.09#2

Comment by Inna.

I used to write in code in my diary… but that was to keep away my sister, never thought my mom would be reading it.

06.19.09#3

Comment by Aludra.

When I was around that age and I was upset, I always needed some space like your daughter seems to. But if you’re still worried about this event on Monday, you could just ask her “Hey, you had a rough day last week. Do you want to talk about it?” And your daughter will either really appreciate the listening ear, or she’ll say “no.” But she’ll know you cared and that you didn’t snoop. Both good things to know at that age.

06.19.09#4

Comment by Andrea's Sweet Life.

Don’t you DARE read that fucking diary!

06.19.09#5

Comment by Marinka.

Definitely, trust your instincts. And my instincts are telling me to read Andrea’s diary.

06.19.09#6

Comment by christy.

I think the motto here is: NEVER write in a diary; just start a blog already!

06.19.09#7

Comment by looneytunes.

Fabulous question and answer.

P.S. I totally want to read Andrea’s diary, too.

06.19.09#8

Comment by Sophie, Inzaburbs.

Andrea has a diary? When you have finished, can you pass it on to me?

Seriously, do not read the diary. I say this as someone whose teenage diaries read “went to school, came home” every single day, so as not to give the slightest satisfaction to the person reading it. What a waste…

06.20.09#9

Comment by Coco.

Okay. I say do NOT respect their privacy. They are too young to have a need for that kind of privacy in my opinion. Kids get online and get stalked by pervs. Other kids play mean and cruel tricks on them. I don’t think they are emotional equipped to handle these situations.

If she won’t talk read the diary. If it is something that is a concern for her safety and well being then bring it up. If it is nothing then keep your mouth shut.

It is our job as parents to keep them safe. I wouldn’t want to respect their privacy and then find them hanging from a rope in the closet. While that is extreme it has happened.

I always asked my girls to be honest. If they were there was not punishment. When my youngest got drunk at a party I didn’t have to punish her. She felt like total crap all on her own and the hangover was plenty of punishment and a good lesson.

06.20.09#10

Comment by tmanettas.

I believe in teaching your kids how to keep secrets. Like the secret of not telling anyone you read that diary. If they want privacy they should get a rental unit.

06.20.09#11

Comment by zelzee.

Very difficult dilemma.

Diary begging to be read………mom feeling she need privacy…….

Wait! Whose house does daughter live in?

07.01.09#12

Comment by alex.

Hey Coco, I definitely understand your perspective, but you’re saying that twelve is too young to develop trust. You’re suggesting that kids don’t have a right to trust their parents, or be treated with respect. You’re teaching them a shitty lesson by snooping. Inevitably, they’ll find out you snooped. If you want to wage a silent, psychological war against your kid – one that he or she will figure out and retaliate against, be my guest. But as the kid who hid a bottle of water in a private drawer to trap my step mother who couldn’t help but snoop, take my word: don’t go down that road.

It’s hard to trust your kids, especially when they do dumb shit. But part of being a parent isn’t creating a gilded cage to protect them from themselves and the big bad world, but giving them the tools to face that world and empowering them to make their own choices – consequences and all. Tragedies happen. We do everything we can to prevent them and protect the ones we love from them. You can’t save your children from the world, no matter how hard you try.

You can prepare them for that world and give them the tools to handle challenges, overcome obstacles, and be successful, responsible people. Be that parent, Coco. Reward honesty not just by not grounding your kids, but with trust. Trust them to be honest with you, and they’ll trust you not to invade their privacy.

07.12.12#13

Comment by I Want To Be My Daughter's Facebook Friend Again | The Mouthy Housewives.

[…] I was a kid, my mother had an incredible respect for my privacy. She never combed through my diary, rifled though my drawers or looked at notes from my classmates. (NOTE: For those of you born after […]

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