Do not enter signs on the children's bedroom doors Issues Beyond Palo Alto, posted by Wondering, a resident of the Charleston Meadows neighborhood, on Oct 26, 2006 at 2:39 pm
I have been reading this newgroup on a regular basis and there is a wealth of information that gets exchange. Occassionally discussions go down the 'flame' path - but most of the times the honest opinions reveal a lot more. So, here is a question that I have had for a long time - and please, don't take this on the wrong path. I am not passing any judgement - just want to know when thing started changing and what do parents /grandparents think about it.
A few years ago, there was news about a teenager collecting ammunition in his bedroom and wanting to blow up some part of DeAnza college. What surprised me the most was that the mother was not aware of the amount of ammunition the kid had in his bedroom. They were not talking about one or two guns - they found a good chunk of stuff, enough to blow up a section of a building. I think the kid got caught since some clerk at a photo development place was vigilant and called the cops (don't recall the details). What surprised me was the mother's comment - she said that the son had "Do not enter"; "Keep away" type of signs on his bedroom door and didn't like anyone comng into his room. So she wanted to respect his opinion and value his privacy and hence never went into the bedroom ... I could never fathom this part.
Recently a collegue mentioned that her sister's kid was doing drugs in his bedroom .. the sister didn't know and was not aware, since the kid would not let anyone enter his room.
I grew up in an Asian country - in a city where space was a premium. We had a two bedroom apartment and had grandparents staying with us. We were three kids. All the rooms were open to anyone and everyone ... when it was time to study or if we needed a moment on our own, we found some comfortable chair or plopped a cushion in the corner of a room -- and it worked just fine. I fondly recall relatives/extended family showing up at our door step (unannounced) and the letter announcing their arrival reaching on the following day (LOL). The whole thing about needing privacy, not wanting to share what was going on with the others in the family was never even an issue.
My parents didn't snoop into our things, but they were aware of what was going on. Each one of us kids had hidden treasures (candies) and diaries placed in strategic locations in the house - but thats as far as it went.
Recently I was talking with our elderly neighbor, who said "things were not this way" when she was growing up( 70+ yrs ) ! She grew up in Palo Alto and had one of those track three bedroom homes. They were two sisters sharing a room and parent walked in anytime. She was very upset with the "younger generation of these days and their attitudes :)"
When did the things change - what do parents on this group feel about the "do not enter" type of signs on the doors and how do you handle if your kid asks you to keep out of his/her room ?
Posted by Mom, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Oct 26, 2006 at 3:15 pm
This may not be the expected answer, but I tell my kids that they can have privacy when they are in the room, provided it is tidy. However, if I find the room stinks from dirty clothes, uneaten food, etc. then the privilege goes. I also tell them that unless they want to do their own laundry, prepare their own food and get no allowance, then their rooms are not their own private place except for times when they are there. We have had huge ant problems due to half eaten candy, maggots from uneaten lunches left in backpacks and dreadful smells from (dare I say it) rotting sanitary pads hidden under beds, that my kids get the picture. This scenario happens even when I do go into their rooms on a daily basis just to take in piles of clean laundry, help find missing library books/homework/sports equipment, so I have no idea what would happen if I didn't. If a teenager lives at home then their room is part of the home and any privacy is a privilege. It certainly doesn't mean their room is out of bounds and if I saw any of my kids trying that one on, then I know it would be time to search the room to see what was being hidden. I don't think I would expect bombs or drugs, but perhaps cigarettes, porn or condoms. But who knows, maybe finding these sort of things would prevent anything worse being found later on. It comes down to communication and trust with a sense of responsibility on both sides.
Posted by parent of teenagers, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Nov 1, 2006 at 12:59 pm
As is obvious from the teenage party thread, I am legally responsible for my teenagers' behavior. I will not give them the luxury of uninvaded privacy while this is so, either in their rooms or online. They're very sensible kids and it's never been an issue, but if they demanded that I never enter their room (what, not even to talk to them?), I would think that it was because they were trying to hide something. At the very least, they would be treating our shared family home as a hotel set up for their convenience - another behaviour I oppose.
Posted by Paly Parent, a member of the Palo Alto High School community, on Nov 1, 2006 at 1:05 pm
I agree wholeheartedly. If the parents of the teens at the party had invaded their child's bedroom, or questioned them about their plans for the evening, much of the problems at the party would have been eliminated. As parents of teenagers, it is each of us our responsibility for the behavior of our children. Respecting their space and privacy are only something they can earn and ony goes so far. How do any of us know whether our teens are hiding alcohol or drugs? I for one would rather find out before they are driving drunk or high. A row with your child at home is far better than grieving over a hospital bed or coffin.
Posted by mike naar, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Nov 1, 2006 at 5:19 pm
This is such a great question.
For me, it goes to the heart of the issue of what our ultimate responsibilities are as parents.
We all strive to maintain good relationships with our kids but when push comes to shove, our foremost role as a parent is to be just that - a parent - and if that creates some discomfort at times, then so be it. That's the price of admission. There are tons of peers who can befriend our kids but only a couple of us who can parent them.
"You don't trust me" is a rallying cry of many teens. Or "you don't trust my friends".
My kids have heard me say an ad-nauseum number of times, "I do trust you. I trust your judgment in friends, and by extension I trust your friends. I don't, however, trust GROUPS. Particularly unsupervised groups -- even of college age." (Some of you may remember the tragic outcome a few years ago of a party on Tennyson Avenue near Middlefield in which a young man was killed).
The adverse effects of group behavior are well-documented and should be a surprise to no-one. The recent teen drinking party cited above is just the most recent example.
But I digress from the question asked about privacy. The hardest part I find is how to negotiate the delicate balance between providing greater age-appropriate allowances for teen growth, independence and development while not shirking our role as parents.
My wife and I decided the internet connection stays in the family room, and while it's never been an issue for us, the only ones who would be allowed to post a "do not enter sign" would be the two of us.
Posted by Leslie, a resident of the Palo Verde neighborhood, on Nov 2, 2006 at 6:05 am
The nod to privacy that my kids get is a knock before entering and that only if they are in there. They have been raised to understand that I have to know what is going on in their rooms and in their lives. We also have a reputation among thier friends for being the strict parents. Even with with that I have been at times sadly surprised. What I can say is that as I approach the finish line (mine are mostly grown), being strict and very nosy has mostly worked for me.