There is a conflict between allowing your teen total privacy and completely invading it. Somewhere there is an acceptable balance between the too worlds. I don’t want to give my children the impression that I don’t trust them, yet I don’t want to be naive enough to assume that they are without imperfection. “Perfect”, they are not.
I had always told BoBo that computers captured a record of all activities (chats, websites, and the like), but I had never given it much attention. His comfort in my lack of parent-spy activities must have been huge. He was crushed in discovering that I recently started reading his chats.
He was probably asking himself, What did he do so that my own Mother doesn’t trust me?
The answer is nothing. It isn’t what he did that worries me; it’s teens these day, even some of his friends, are doing. I don’t want to have to explain why I wasn’t properly parently my child if something horrible where to happen. Guilt is hard to live with and I already feel a little guilty for not catching the silent cancer that grew in Tom. I am a nurse after all.
For me, the issue with arbitrarily picking a few chats to read is that you can take a few statements out of context. Alcohal? What? Without the whole picture the joke wasn’t funny; had I read more, I might have noticed the pattern of him giving his chat-ee a hard time for drugs and alcohal. Instead, I was sent into total fear and my actions were not the least bit rational. All that I could think of was the loads of alcohal (left over from the funeral reception) that was stored in our garage. I “downed” it. Every last bit of it was sent right down the drain.
I’m not saying that I regret reading his chats. I do regret my actions that followed. The message that I sent was a clear “I don’t trust you.” But he never did give me a reason for that. I love my son. He may tell the occasional lie, omit important details, or come up with ill-thought ideas for having fun. But he is “decent,” “considerate,” and “good.” And I want to retain a good relationship with him.