Does your child have a phone? an ipod that they text from? access to a computer or ipad? Do you as the parent regularly check their text messages? Time and time again parents tell me that they read their child’s texts but the child does not know about it. Then comes the dreaded day when something in the text is of concern. Then what…..How do you talk to your child about something that they do not know you know about? Kids should be told from the beginning that everything that they do on any device can and will be checked at any time. Why wouldn’t it be this way? You as the parent most likely pay the monthly data plan fees. Will your child like this? Most likely not. Kids need to know that there is someone monitoring them with their devices until they learn to do this themselves. Tell them it is for their protection and that it will provide a way for the parent to help them navigate difficult situations that come up. Many kids will be relieved, however, do not expect them to tell you that they are relieved. They will most likely act as if they are insulted. This is okay too. Get comfortable with your child being upset with your decisions. This is a normal part of development.
Parents are often swayed in their decision making. Some of this comes from the discomfort of being “at odds” with your child. Some of it is really internalized pressure as parents judge and rate themselves based on how they perceive other parents are handling their teens. None of us wants to feel like we are “the heavy” or the uncool parent but this is just part of the job. Someone needs to set limits. Teens will tell you they do not want rules and structure but they do make better decisions when there is structure and when there are consequences.