not be the last teenager who is upset at the ‘cyber stalking’ that their parents are committing against them. It was when I heard a younger client (15) say that they were being ‘framed’ by the efforts put forth (drug testing & text and call monitoring) that I thought I should address what every parent must battle in raising a teenager.
So what is the best policy? How do you trust a child who is emerging into a quasi adult without a fully developed brain? They are impulsive, easily manipulated, and often overwhelmed by the pressure of peers to make decisions against what they know is right versus wrong. The visit to my office is often too late, the damage done. Most devastating, what they call ‘sexting’ with images and comments about things and places that they wouldn’t dare discuss in person. They fail to consider the one person they trust to send the information to will undoubtedly send or share with at least 2-3 others, that share with others and it goes on and on. A parent’s trust is shattered and the child, ill equipped to make amends, is online slots on thin ice to find redemption with both peers and family.
The question: “What would you do you doctor?” Do you or don’t you track messaging, location, and test for the presence of drugs. There are no easy answers, but the best is to have the conversation before you are in this position of reacting to a known violation of trust. Honesty is what we are looking for as a parent, we want to trust our teens, we want to be able to go about our days without the worry and concern they will make mistakes. This is not realistic. Teens are working without the benefit of life, without wisdom and without all the tools of long term thinking bring. I promise you that your teen will let you down. The magnitude of how far is the question.
The tools are out there, programs that do all the work for you. The question is whether we track our kids and what message this relays to them. Teens argue they aren’t trusted, their parents aren’t committed to seeing them as adults. The parents argue that they are making mistakes and this step provides assurance they can step in as needed before things get too bad. This time, there is no answer to provide solace, no assurances on whether your decision is right. It is a personal choice, one that reflects your position as a parent of a teenager – stranded in the world of what comes next …
So what do you do is the question, because no matter what your friends are doing, this is your life, your child and they have you to lead them to success in life. Share, support and post the tough questions. This is how we grow as individuals, parents, and children.