"MY TEENAGER IS UPSET BECAUSE I LOOKED IN HER CELLPHONE"
Q: I have one daughter - a 14 year old. She is constantly on her cell phone. One day, her phone went off and I picked it up from the table to see who the message was from. The message was innocent and my daughter cried because she felt like I didn't trust her and I evaded her privacy. Afterwards, I felt bad and told her that I do trust her. How do I protect my child and maintain the relationship she and I have without her thinking I am a snoop? A: Evaded her privacy? Teens shouldn't have privacy until their name is on a lease or deed! That's how they EARN the right to privacy! I don't know about you, but I haven't had an ounce of privacy since my children were born! From them bursting in the bathroom to creeping into my bedroom in the middle of the night! Parent's don't have privacy from their children, so they surely shouldn't get privacy from us! She felt like you didn't trust her? DON'T TRUST HER! Being 14 in 2017 is completely different from being 14 many years ago. Constantly in the news, there are stories of children (and teens) living secret lives via social media and their cell phones that allow them access to any and everybody on Earth. Evade her privacy, mom. Check every text, call, browsing history, under the mattress, pants pockets, shoe boxes, need I go on? Now is not the time to be her FRIEND. It is more important in this regard to see what she is doing, who she is talking to, ect. There are ways to make this period of life easier on both you and your daughter, Mom. Explain to your teen the reasons you have to be so protective over her and her technology. Sit together and search the stories of teens chatting with pedophiles via social media apps and cell phones and show her the danger they found themselves in. Teens sometimes live in a "immediate zone" - so if it hasn't happened to them or one of their friends, in their minds, it is not reality. Open the lines of communication about the cell phone. Set expectations. You don't have to sneak or secretly look through your child's cellphone or computer. Make sure they know that it will be done. Make sure they know that they are not allowed to delete messages or call history (this can be cross checked through detail billing through your service provider - I am a private investigator like that). Let the child know that you will see their call history and that it is better to be open and honest than to sneak and hide texts, calls, apps, ect. Limit when, where, and how the child may use their devices. Put desktop computers in a common area of the home, not the bedroom. Limit the use of cellphones and tablets in the bedroom. Make it a rule to only use such devices in common areas of your home. Sure, they can still browse places they shouldn't, but them being in an area without closed doors or physical privacy may lessen the chances of such. Limit the times of phone usage. This can even be done with major carriers - setting the times when data and text can be used. Don't view snooping as a sign of lack in trust. Don't use snooping as tool to confront issues that you may disagree with, but rather use it to gather information for your peace of mind that your child is okay. Parenting is hard. And we have to do what we can as parents to protect our children while we can. Teach them right from wrong and hope it sticks with them when they are of age. But for now. Snoop on, Mama.