The latest episode of Longest Shortest Time talks about parents who spy (intentionally and unintentionally) on their children. It’s a really great episode. Hillary talks to her cousin, Rob, who actively spies on his teen daughter. And she talks to a mother who accidentally intercepted some text messages between her daughter and another girl who was selling her daughter some weed.
It’s so great and I love the mother-daughter story so much.
But it does raise some questions for me. Is it appropriate to spy on your children? If so, to what extent or under what circumstances?
My view of parenthood is that parents are stewards of their children until their children’s good sense grows in. The law says that happens at age 18, but observations lead me to believe it doesn’t really happen for most people until somewhere around age 28. I’m willing to go with the law on this one.
I am also inclined to think that there is some reasonable amount of “spying” (I prefer to call it “monitoring”) of your child’s activities in order to help them make good decisions and cope with what they’re seeing.
NOTE: Outside of some rather uncommon scenarios involving personal safety, high crimes, and misdemeanors, I do not think parents should intercede in their children’s lives to prevent them from making bad decisions. I think parents can just offer good advice about what SHOULD be done and the child has to make their choices and deal with the outcomes.
I do also think that the monitoring of children’s activities should be limited in some way and it should probably stop after a certain point in the child’s maturity — unless perhaps one has reason to believe there are seriously bad things happening.
I’ve given a small amount of thought to how I could monitor network traffic on our home wifi so that I can see what they’re doing online. I’m sure in the future, my options will be much broader. And I’ve thought a little about how conversations about sex and drugs might go.
But I don’t know what the guiding principle is here. I don’t know that there even IS a set rule that would apply to all children and parents on this one.
Anyone with any thoughts on this?