Growing up, I did everything I could think of to hide my diary from my mother, short of carrying it with me everywhere I went. I chose to leave it at home because I couldn’t risk anyone finding it. A lot of my entries were written about how unfair I believed my mom to be, but she wasn’t the only person I was writing about. I wrote about everyone and everything, and I wanted to keep my thoughts private.
There’s an inconsistency between what I believed then and what I believe now. Or is there? Today, I actually advise parents and guardians to obtain access to their teens’ cell phones and technological devices. I know that daughters everywhere are wondering why I’ve betrayed them because never, in a million years, would I have wanted my mom to spy on my text message threads, favorite YouTube videos, or posts on the Snap. I do it because I’m an advocate: an advocate for safety, an advocate for protection, an advocate for exciting futures and fulfilled potential.
I still believe tween and teens should enjoy greater levels of independence the older they get. Boundaries make all of us feel safe and teens are no exception. Nonetheless, they should also know that their moms (and dads) care enough to keep them safe and THAT’S the difference. I still believe diaries should be kept private because they’re a safe choice we can all use to enjoy free expression and it’s dangerous to intimidate your child from using one out of fear that you’ll read it. Diaries are not going to endanger us like social media can because there are few ways to communicate with strangers and expose yourself to harmful influences (if any) through the use of them. Technological devices can expose us to predators, stalkers, and potentially addictive habits and it’s our job to keep those who are entrusted to our care safe.
Need additional ways to mantain boundaries? Try one of these:
- Agree to allow your teen to use an app that doesn’t connect to cellular data to log her thoughts which you will not open when you check her devices if she doesn’t like to write in a diary.
- Require them to “friend” a family member or trusted mentor so that you can keep up with them and allow them privacy if there’s an adult YOU trust who is willing to step up.
- Converse about trust often and consider ways you can build trust together. Remember, checking technology is an issue of safety, not trust.
I’d like to invite you to M.A.D. Conversations on April 2, 2018 at 1:00PM. You can register at www.colorfullycandid.eventbrite.com. My mom and I will be sharing tips for you to begin seeing the other’s point of view because healthy relationships are worth fighting for! Do you have any tips that I omitted that you feel may help someone? Can you drop it below?