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Do not enter signs on the children's bedroom doors

Original post made by Wondering, Charleston Meadows, on Oct 26, 2006

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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.


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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.


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Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
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.


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Posted by mike naar
a resident of Barron Park
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.


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Posted by Leslie
a resident of Palo Verde
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.