Teens and Privacy | What’s the Issue?

Teens and Privacy – Desire and Discipline

teens and privacy

Our Current Issue with Teens and Privacy

I have a 13 year old son.  He’s growing up and needing space.  I don’t like it.  I guess that is always the case as our kids grow.  It’s hard to relax and start to release them to become who God intended them to be.  But it’s what we have to do if we want them living to their full potential.  If we want them to be happy we have to let them go. It’s true, no matter how difficult it is.

So, when it comes to teens and privacy, where do we draw lines?  If my son had his way, he’s be holed up in his room playing video games and not socializing or being a part of the world in general.  I remember being in this stage.  Nobody understood me and I felt like there was not one soul that cared to try.  I was wrong, of course.  I have great parents.  Parenting teens is difficult, and I am only getting started!

Teens and privacy is something I wasn’t prepared, fully, to deal with.  I was a teen girl and we are raising a teen son.  NOT the same.  Some issues are similar but not all.  The hormones are different, the desires are different and boys and girls are different…in case you didn’t  know.

So, what do we do with teens and privacy?  I refuse to let my son become a recluse and just emerge at some later point.  That’s quite a visual, though.  I also refuse to just let him run wild and free.  There’s not exactly a fine line but, rather, a gray area.  I hate gray areas.  They are dangerous.  Not fully light but not fully dark.  I’m a person who likes black and white.  I like to be in control and that’s not possible right now.  Maybe God is using this time to improve my patience and decision making.

Teens & Privacy – Questions for Parents

What teens want and what they need are very different.  The privacy they desire and the privacy we are willing to give are also very different.  That can lead to conflict if not handled carefully.  We know that but how do we deal?  Where do we draw lines?  Do we allow gray areas?

teens and privacy

I have said, more than once, that if you live in my house and are under 18 (or over and not paying bills or attending college) then you have no right to privacy.  Now, that my son is 13 I have changed my views…a little.  Let me give you MY answers to the above questions.

How do we deal?  We just do.  We have no choice.  Teens and privacy is a battle for the ages.  Support is necessary.  It helps to have a supportive partner or other person that you can turn to.  Just having someone you can vent your frustrations to, is a huge relief.  If you don’t have someone, find someone.  Look online for parenting sites, groups on Facebook or message boards for parents of teens.  YOU NEED SUPPORT!  So does your teen!

Where do we draw lines?  I don’t have a certain answer for that.  Just make sure you draw them in pencil!  Because, I guarantee, you will have to retract statements and change where the lines are.  Just be willing to admit mistakes and openly discuss all options with your teen.  Making them a part of the decision-making process will show that you value their opinion and will help to promote trust.

Do we allow gray areas?  Yes.  You have to.  Well, gray areas…just…are.  They happen with teens and privacy and in every other area we wish they didn’t.  There is not always a black or white, a yes or no, a do or don’t.  Sometimes (most times) it’s a case of trying one thing but having an option in case the first plan doesn’t work.  Again, involve your teen.  Let them know what the second option or backup plan is.  Don’t catch them off guard if plan A fails.  They will feel like you have pulled the rug out from under them and it will destroy trust.

 How We Are Dealing With Teens and Privacy

My son has wanted to move downstairs, to the room off of the rec room, since we moved here.  It’s been two years and now he is 13 and has an ever-growing desire for privacy.  However, we have dealt with some issues that have broken trust with him and we were very hesitant to give in to his request on any level.  But we knew that we had to allow him the chance to repair the trust and to show that we hear what he is saying.

This past weekend we moved him downstairs and relocated my  office to his old room.  It seems like a bigger deal that it really  is.  Yes, he’s only 13 and yes he has the potential to spend hours in isolation.  But he won’t.  Why?  Because he loves his family and wants to spend time with us.  Also, we removed all electronic entertainment from the rec room. There is no phone, no cable, no video games and no TV.

We took away all of the things that would make him want to stay down in his new domain.  Chores and other responsibilities have to be met before time can be spent on electronics.  We are teaching them that responsibilities are a part of life and that rewards don’t come without being deserved.  Yes, we are strict.  Yes, we expect the best from our children.  Do we always get it, no.  But they are only human after all.  This will not be the final discussion on teens and privacy, I know.

teens and privacy

So, what’s the secret?  Honesty and communication.  Both are a MUST!  Our door and minds are always open and we have ongoing communication about sex, drugs, alcohol, relationships, school and whatever else comes up.  We leave many things open-ended.  The kids know our expectations.  They know where we stand on issues of faith, abstinence, drug use, drinking, and more.  They also know that we understand that mistakes will be made.  That’s where we have to remain patient but vigilant.  We have to support each other and our children and never leave them wondering what if.

I have learned many things from my kids.  I continue to learn and grow with each year.  I know that the issue of teens and privacy is one that I will be dealing with for years to come.  I will also have to remind myself of this article and that lines should be drawn in pencil and not Sharpie!

What are your opinions on teens and privacy?

Comment below with the issues  you have faced, the worries or concerns you have and especially prayer requests.  Iron sharpens iron and we want to help you help yourself in all areas, including teens and privacy!


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  1. My oldest daughter just turned 14, so I know I have to walk into those grey areas slowly. She’s a good kid and isn’t shy about saying things like Mom! Come look at this, or read this text. I’m still included, and hopefully that won’t change too much as we move into the teen years. Great post!

  2. I will have 4 teenagers at the same time (2 boys and 2 girls) soon enough, so I found your article thought-provoking in that it discusses the balance between having teens and respecting their privacy. I agree with you that having been a teen girl, I think that it will take a little more work on my part to understand my sons’ needs for privacy when the time comes. Thanks for sharing your experiences with us!

  3. Going through the same thing with my 13 yr old son. He’s not so bad yet but it’s hard to get some things out of him. It’s more training us to remember to ask him a lot of questions after he’s been with friends…what did you do, what did you watch, what did you listen to, etc. He’s a good boy and we have to let him have his space but also need to have the conversations with him when things do come up. It is tough dealing with teens and privacy but it’s something that we have to go through so we have to deal with it.

  4. CarolSue Baird says:

    Thank You , for a well written article. I have a 15 year old daughter and vigilence is needed. She has broken our trust and must earn it back, but she is a great young person.

  5. Well said….guess you just gotta give teens their privacy. Scary, but there is that trust factor.

  6. I don’t have any kids, but I remember how big of a deal privacy was for me as a teen. With all the current tech, I think I would allow my kids privacy as long as they seemed to remain open and not like they were hiding things, but make it clear that I would look at any time if I felt like I needed to.

  7. I think it’s ok to allow your teen to have a little bit of privacy, however too much privacy can get a teen into trouble, in my opinion.

  8. I guess I am just lucky that I have parents who gave me enough privacy growing up but at the same time they also make it a point to let us know that they are there when we need them and talk about any thing. They never allow us to be recluse, there’s private time but there’s also family bonding time and eating together every day. I guess teens and privacy is a bigger issue now with social media , cellphones and stuff but I think going back to the basics is important, always have an open communication and family time every day.

    • Crystal says:

      I totally agree, Dee! We have family dinners at the table (or sometimes with pizza and a movie) but no other electronics are allowed. No cell phone or tablets, etc at the table! We do a family Bible study after dinner. It’s very important to us to have family time together so that communication keeps flowing.

  9. I have a 13 year old daughter so I loved reading about teens and privacy. I don’t feel the need to read through all my daughter’s facebook postings and text messages, but I let her know that I could at any time. I try to keep the communication open and ask her about everything that is going on. It is hard, because they get so secretive at this age and think that we just don’t understand!