We got in a pretty heated discussion during a meeting the other day. The topic: parents spying on kids. One of our iMOM writers had written about three ways she spied on her children. We debated whether it was parental monitoring or an invasion of privacy. I spoke up because I had my own story to share. One of my children went through a tough time in high school. I could tell this child was struggling, but I had no idea to what extent until God dropped a gift right into my lap. For some unknown reason, all of my child’s texts started showing up on my phone. Did I run to my child and announce it? “Hey! Your texts are showing up on my phone!” No—I did not. I read the texts, lots of them. And I learned a lot of things that, as a parent, I needed to know. I learned that this child was in a very bad spot and I used the information I gathered to guide my child to safety.
Then, after about three weeks, those texts stopped just as suddenly as they started. But I had seen what I needed to. I pray all the time for God to show me how to parent my children and sometimes He literally shows me! Through that experience, I learned these 3 lessons that ensured me that parents spying on kids is just fine.
1. We need to do what it takes to keep them safe.
One of our primary jobs as moms is to keep our children safe. That goes above our child’s “right to privacy.” Think about a mom who’s lost her child to drugs, or found out too late her child was sneaking around with someone who would eventually harm her, or discovered that her son is addicted to pornography. Would a mom in that situation ever say that “I might not have known what was going on, but at least I respected my child’s privacy?”
Jesus said, “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit?” Kids may think they can take care of themselves, but in reality, they need lots of help navigating this world.
2. Children are immature.
Even the most intelligent child can be emotionally immature. Kids don’t think about the long-term effects of posting a compromising photo or sending an angry text. When we don’t check on our children’s texts and posts, we are expecting too much of them. We’re expecting them to maturely handle freedom they’re not ready for.
It’s natural for kids to act like kids. That’s why they have parents to teach them along the way. If you don’t know what they are doing, you won’t know what they need to learn.
3. They need the truth.
A friend of mine was talking to her young teenager about vaping. During the course of their conversation, she learned that her son had gone online to research the dangers of vaping. “It’s really not bad, Mom,” he said, “as long as it doesn’t have nicotine in it.” My friend went on to guide him to the right information online that taught the risks. Now, why did my friend even bring up vaping to her son? She had read a group text of her son’s in which some boys were talking about it. She didn’t want him to get guidance from 13-year-olds; she wanted to be the one to guide him.
Still not sold on parents spying on kids?
Your child might call it spying, but it’s time to reframe the way we look at it. Our kids are living their lives online instead of in our back yards and living rooms. So this isn’t spying—it’s parenting. Be forthcoming with your kids from the outset. When you give them phones, tell them you’ll monitor them. Remind your kids they can come to you with problems and that you’ll love them through whatever they struggle with.Our kids are living their lives online instead of in our back yards and living rooms. So this isn't spying—it's parenting. Click To Tweet
What are your thoughts on parents spying on kids? Is it parental monitoring or an invasion of privacy?