Debunking Teen Privacy

Our kids have more chutzpah than common sense. Barge in.

Question: Should parents barge into their teenage kids’ rooms without warning?

The real question, coming from this father of four (for whom a sense of humor is a must), is this: If you have teenage children, why would you ever want to go in their rooms in the first place?

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Sure, the kid may say, “It’s my room,” but last time I checked, my kids don’t pay rent. Or utilities.

My sons have the same attitude toward organization that I had when I was their age: There’s a place for everything, and that place is the floor.

My room, when I was a teen, was in such a state that you could eat off the floor if you wanted to. That’s because there was food everywhere.

I once heard that you can’t discipline your kids for anything you didn’t do right. In reality, I exaggerate – I kept my room fairly clean. And I expect my kids to do likewise.

Related: Tips for Parenting Your Teens

Okay, let’s get real.

As a sign of respect, I try not to enter my kids’ rooms without asking permission first. That is my personal view. 

It’s a simple courtesy that acknowledges their personhood. They are teenagers now, after all. 

What would I be searching for, anyway? Smokes, drugs? If my kids were into these things, I’m afraid they’d be better at hiding them than I would be at finding them.

Playboy magazines? Oh, please. Compared to what’s easily accessed online today, Playboy is about as provocative as Psychology Today. And now Playboy won’t have nudity anymore anyway. (Pity all those suddenly unemployed airbrush artists.)

So what am I looking for?

Related: Kids’ Safety on Social Media

Evidence to prove a surmise on my part that a massive lapse of judgment has occurred.

Teens, especially teen boys, have far more courage than common sense.

They need to learn from their own mistakes. In today’s world, though, sometimes, if the mistakes are egregious, the punishment they’ll face for getting caught can scar them for life.

If I sense the possibility of an error in judgment with outsized consequences, something perhaps related to sex, drugs, or violence, I’m going in.

From a legal standpoint, your kid’s room is your room, as is every other room in the house.

The courteous thing, however, is to recognize that everyone is entitled to privacy. Even your deeply annoying teenagers.

Related: Supervising Tweens and Teens

Unless they’re headed for more trouble than they bargained for — in which case, here comes dear old Dad.

If you truly suspect that something wrong is going on relating to any of the scourges of teenage life — alcohol, drugs, weapons — then ignore my previous point. Knock down the door if you have to.

Just remember that keeping things neat isn’t exactly a high priority for teens, and probably wasn’t a priority when you were their age.

And if you must go in, especially if they’ve reached the later, perilous high-school years, heed my advice.

Don’t go in alone. You may never be seen again.

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